If you know a bit about Internet in China, you probably know or use WeChat. But unless you are an avid WeChat user, you would probably not know the existence of WeChat subscription accounts.
What is WeChat subscription account?
Simply put, it is one of the two types of official accounts on WeChat. The other being the service account (also quite interesting, but would be topic for another day).
By having an subscription account, you can post articles on the account. And whoever that subscribes to your account on WeChat would see the updates in a separate thread called “Subscription Accounts” in WeChat messaging interface.
Is it popular?
Yes, extremely popular, but probably less well-known than Weibo. You cannot really escape from it if you use WeChat reguarly, as there is a social element to it.
How does it work?
Basically it is like WordPress.com. Any WeChat user, be it an individual or an organization, can register a subscription account (subjected to some conditions of course).
So you will have individuals running personal blogs, independent writers and analysts giving their opinions, news media publishing articles, and government organizations issuing announcements. All within the WeChat subscription account model.
The way a subscription account grows is by sharing. WeChat has its own social media feature (topic for another day) called Moments, and you can easily share a piece of article from a subscription account to your timeline on Moments (optionally adding your comments). If your friend is interested in the title and the content, he or she can also subscribe to the account (basically like Facebook).
The way a subscription account makes money (if any) is by sponsorship of content, or donation system. The donation system (not clear if built-in or by third-party) allows users to tip the author very easily from their WeChat wallet balance, which takes a few seconds with very little friction, as compared to credit cards.
The sample size from my social circle is pretty small, whereas there are probably more than a few thousand subscription accounts out there with huge audience. But here are some examples of subscription accounts that I found interesting:
Current Affair / Politics
顾子明政事堂 has 110 original articles, with 100k+ views on recent ones.
(The content is obviously in Chinese, so you will need Google Translate)
China and the United States have the same path
Taiwanese female spy color seduce anti-mainland students, hidden actions behind
Notice that these are just normal web pages, embedded into WeChat native apps. But once they are loaded on WeChat, additional features like follow and tip will show up.
杜绍斐 has 1059 original articles, with close to 100k views on recent ones.
Recent articles on fashion:
To participate in the ex-girlfriend wedding, how can I wear it to make her regret? |Basic
Past interesting articles in the True Story series:
Beijing CBD poor people: I came here to peek into the lady who tried on famous shoes | true story (No. 75 in the True Story series)
另维和Yellow has 148 original articles, with about a few thousand views on recent ones.
Recent articles on having full-time job as a traveler:
Traveler with an annual salary of one million
Shanghaiist‘s WeChat subscription account
轻课 has a few subscription accounts, one of them is 轻课小伙伴
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Office, enough said.
Did I miss anything important? Interested to know more details on any specific area?
Leave a comment below.