Have you ever met a Chinese national without WeChat (微信 wēi xìn)?
The answer is likely no.
The use of WeChat is so prevalent in China that it has become an essential means of communication at work.
Scroll along to find out how you can impress your Chinese co-workers and use WeChat like a pro!
1.【添加朋友 tiān jiā péng yǒu】Adding a Friend
You can simply add a contact by typing in their Weixin ID/phone number or scanning each other’s QR codes.
Your Weixin ID is different from your display name. It is your unique identifier which can be found under the ‘Me’ page and can only be changed once per year. If you tap the little arrow to the right of your Weixin ID, there’s your WeChat QR code.
Press the little ‘+’ sign on the top right corner of your ‘Chats’ page, select ‘Add Contacts’, and enter one’s Weixin ID or WeChat-linked phone number to add them.
Alternatively, press ‘Scan’ to read someone’s WeChat QR code, or show your own QR code for scanning. It is usually more polite to take the initiative to scan as it gives the other party the option to accept or decline your friend request at their convenience.
Just like many other messenger apps, WeChat possesses all the basic chat functions such as file sharing and video and voice calls. On top of that, you can start a group chat with the people physically around you within seconds, even if you’ve just met each other.
Again, press the ‘+’ sign on the top right corner of your ‘Chats’ page, this time select ‘New Chat’ and ‘Join Private Group’. Enter any 4-digit number and share it with the others who are joining the group. Anyone within a 500-metre radius will be able to join the group instantly with the right code. Note that the code expires in 3 minutes.
This is known as “face to face group formation” (面对面建群 miàn duì miàn jiàn qún) to the Chinese. It is a good way to grow your network as you can always reach out to individuals whom you did not have a chance to talk to after an event, so long as a WeChat group is set up during the event.
There are also many minor functions that are useful to know while conversing using WeChat.
First, you may translate text messages from Chinese to English by long pressing the message, so don’t fret if you are working with a Chinese counterpart and are still improving your business Chinese communication skills! Second, you may reply directly to a particular message by long pressing and selecting ‘Quote’.
Thirdly, you may ask WeChat to remind you of a certain message by tapping on ‘Reminder’.
Lastly, you may convert both English and Chinese voice messages into text by tapping the ‘Convert’ button next to the message.
Beware that it is commonly regarded as rude to send voice messages to a Chinese co-worker as it takes a longer time to listen than to read messages. Therefore, type down your messages as much as possible to show consideration.
Apart from messaging, WeChat also combined social elements similar to Facebook. You can share posts known as ‘moments’ or comment and like others’ posts in the Wechat friends’ circle.
To post a moment, go to the ‘Discover’ page and click into ‘Moments’. Tap on the camera sign on the top right corner of the page if you wish to include images in your post, if not, press and hold the sign to post text only.
Moments or friends’ circle can be a valuable source of information. It provides an insight into the lives of those living in China who need a VPN to access many other social media platforms.
Similarly, WeChat ‘Subscriptions’ or ‘Push Notifications’ comprise an enormous amount of information. You will practically be able to find articles on any topic and subscribe to the account that produced them. Many companies make use of this platform to publicise themselves in China.
Now, basic functions aside, WeChat also encompasses many exciting, less noticed functions that one might make use at work.
The group owner or admin of each WeChat group may issue group notice or highlight a certain message in a group.
The group owner is the one who creates the group, by pressing the three dots on the top right corner of the group chat page, he or she can transfer ownership and/or appoint up to 3 admins under the ‘Manage Group’ segment. Right above ‘Manage Group’ is the segment ‘Group Notice’, where both the group owner and the admins can enter to type down a message. Every group member will be alerted to this message even if they had muted the group.
Once the group notice is sent, you may further set it as a ‘Group To-Do’ to track the people who have actually read the message. This function notifies you whenever a group member opens the notice.
Nonetheless, if you prefer to tone things down a little, disseminate a message more subtly, you may first message the group, then long press the message to select ‘Sticky on Top’. This way, everyone entering the group chat page will see the message pinned to the top of the screen without being alerted.
Another less known function of WeChat is the list creator. It comes in handy when you wish to collate information from a group, for instance, gauging the attendance of a particular event or buying milk tea for an entire department.
Simply type ‘#接龙 jiē lóng’ in the text box and select ‘Group Note’ to start a list. Another way to do so is to click on the ‘+’ button next to the typing box and find ‘Group Note’. You may explain what the list is for in the heading or remark section. You can also set a format for people to follow while filling the list. This list prevents people from editing others’ responses and keep the replies neat.
What to do when you were half way through a WeChat subscription article and someone sends you a message? Quit the article to reply and spend a long time finding the article and scrolling to where you left it? If this is you, you have been missing out on the easy way out. Wechat’s floating window allows users to store and revisit their progress on other pages opened through WeChat.
Just click on the three dots on the top right corner of whatever page you are on and choose ‘floating’ to do so. However, only a maximum of 5 floating windows are allowed at once. You can find these windows by swiping right from the left edge of your screen.
Hooray! Now you are ready to try out WeChat!