When promoting a product or a service, be careful to respect WeChat rules and restrictions (and more generally the social media marketing law) they put in place in order to avoid penalties
These rules & regulations are applying to any promotion & marketing content that is published via an Official Account, an advertising campaign, an H5 or a Mini Program.
1. Main regulations applicable from the social media marketing law
- WeChat regulation updates | October 2019 [Official]
- Tencent’s Acceptable Use Policies [Official]
- WeChat issues new rules for user privacy | May 2018 [Technode]
- Get famous or get blocked: the rules of WeChat viral marketing |
The regulation has 2 mains objectives:
- improve end-user experience
- protect user’s privacy
2. Rules on content with externals links
As part of their policy, WeChat block links from third-party platforms and enforcing strict rules about how and where external links can be placed.
Several types of content with external links that may be blocked on WeChat:
- Content that forces or entices users to share something (e.g. a WeChat article) in order to proceed to the next step, like getting information, winning a prize or taking part in a campaign; sometimes with benefits provided, including but not limited to cash, coupons, discounts and prizes
- Content that forces or entices users to follow an official account in order to proceed to the next step, like getting information, winning a prize or taking part in a campaign
- H5 games and tests that entice users for interactions, including friend Q&A, personality tests, online fortune telling or prediction games, etc.
- Fraudulent content, including fake red packets or campaigns, and content that imitates the style and domain name of other WeChat articles and accounts and may cause confusion
- Rumors or false information that may cause harm to individuals, corporations, or other institutions
- Spam, ads, and junk content, including information about counterfeit goods, ads making fraudulent claims, ads for cryptocurrencies, etc.
- Content with sensational, exaggerated, or misleading headlines that don’t match the content as well as pornographic, erotic, and vulgar content
- Content designed for the collection of users’ personal data or information (phone number, open ID, Chinese ID, date of birth, etc.) without the user’s knowledge or consent
- Content designed for the collection of users’ personal data or information (phone number, open ID, Chinese ID, date of birth, etc.) without explicit purpose
- Content soliciting donations to religious organizations
- Content offering payment for votes
- Content with an incentive program (including but not limited to red envelopes, coupons, vouchers, points, credits, data, content) that entices users to perform an action on WeChat (share, like, read, comment, download app, etc.)
- Content with an incentive program (including but not limited to red envelopes, coupons, vouchers, points, credits, data, content) that entices users to share their products on WeChat’s Moments by offering them rewards (Source: WeChat Cracks Down on Accounts Offering Incentives to Share | May 2019 [CX Live])
- Content with an incentive program that entices users to claim outside of WeChat
- Content that forces or entices users to invite clicks from contacts to avoid spamming contact (Source: WeChat bans external links asking users to spam contacts | October 2019 [Technode])
- Content that entices users to invite friends on WeChat group to participate in the campaign in order to bring down the price (eg. Pinduoduo campaign)
- Content with an incentive program (including but not limited to red envelopes, coupons, vouchers, points, credits, data, content) that entices users to download an APP
- Content with the user’s profile picture or name in order to increase conversion
According to WeChat Marketing restriction, once found, these external links will be blocked immediately and the related official account may also be sanctioned. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to a permanent ban.
Source: A Comprehensive Guide to External Links on WeChat | May 2018 [Jing Daily]
3. Keywords to avoid in WeChat rules
Due to the “Great Firewall” of China, multinational companies in China have encountered many problems in both internal and international communication. Now, the most popular communication tool, WeChat, is also said to be monitored by the government.
Recently, WeChat messages that violated the government policy in the online publication have disappeared without notice. On June 8, many WeChat public accounts were even shut down by WeChat because they were spreading too much celebrity gossip.
To avoid the being detected by keywords censorship on WeChat, Xinhua Media – a Chinese state-owned publication – has released some guidelines for brands on how to adjust their contents. According to the guidelines, such extreme keywords as “the best”, “the most famous, “movie king, etc. must not be included.
Words to avoid on WeChat Advertising content are:
- 100 percent
- Number one
- the best
- one hundred percent
- most advanced
Source: What Sensitive Keywords On WeChat Could Mean for Brands | November 2017 [Jing Daily]
4. Group Buying
The WeChat terms to regulate group-buying forbid:
- False or misleading information in order to entice the group members to purchase
- Group purchase events with lottery nature
- Group purchase events with no clear and definite rules
5. Example of penalties after a violation of the WeChat Marketing restrictions
When the WeChat Marketing policy has been broken, the WeChat Account Owner is penalized.
Sanctions for violating the WeChat terms
- Block the website or IP address
- Limit or block the traffic to content on WeChat Moments
- Partially or fully limit the features of the Official Account
- Temporarily block or event permanently delete the account
- Ban the company from using the WeChat system
Beyond penalty and damage on the WeChat side (reputation & interruption of operation), double punishment can take place according to China’s commercial and advertising law.
Sanctions for violating the commercial and advertising law in China
Depending on the type of violation and outcome:
- fine ranges from 10,000RMB to 1 million RMB
- suspension of the business license
So given the penalities, the companies should pay close attention to WeChat terms and avoid playing with fire.
6. Updates and timeline on WeChat rules
|WDate||Updates||Source / more details|
|February 2019||WeChat said it has closed thousands of official accounts as part of its ongoing effort to clean up content||South China Morning Post|
WeChat rules and regulations are based on the commercial and advertising law in China. So the other social media are subject to similar policies.