News and Case Studies

April 8, 2024 in Blog

WeChat Essentials: Understanding WeChat Mini-Programs

Using WeChat to connect with the Chinese customer.

WeChat Mini Programs are small, lightweight applications that run like a standalone mobile app and operate within the WeChat ecosystem. Accessible via a OR code or a simple search within the WeChat app, they are designed to be fast, convenient and easy to use. They provide users with access to a range of everyday services (e.g. ordering food, buying cinema tickets or even booking medical appointments) and are especially popular in China, with an estimated 4.3 million Mini-Programs available, attracting around 928 million daily active users (@May 2023)1. The popularity of Mini Programs in China now means that most businesses no longer see the need to create standalone apps, recognising that Mini-Programs can perform the services their customers need in one place.

WeChat Mini-Programs vs Phone Apps: A comparison

WeChat Mini-Programs have some similarities with traditional mobile apps whilst also boasting distinctive differences:


  • User Interface:
    Mini-programs and mobile apps have a similar user interface, with buttons and menus that users can easily recognise and interact with.
  • Functionality:
    Whether it’s ordering food, booking flights or gaming, Mini-Programs and phone apps can provide a wide variety of functions.


  • Integration:
    Mini-Programs are integrated into the WeChat ecosystem and users access them without leaving the WeChat app. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are separate apps that users need to download and install and can be used within their individual environment.
  • Size:
    Mini-Programs are small and lightweight, with a maximum size of 10 MB. On the other hand, mobile apps can be much larger, with some apps exceeding 1 GB.

How STM Publishers and Academic Author are using Mini-Programs:

As the academic landscape in China flourishes, WeChat Mini-Programs have evolved to accommodate the needs of researchers, publishers, and users of research.
The benefits of Mini-Programs for Publishers include:

  • Tagging:
    Publishers can tag their Mini-Program users, creating a comprehensive database of users and a deeper understanding of the Chinese publishing market. This database forms the basis for publishers to segment, tailor and localise their messaging for each journal.
  • Data integration:
    Data collected through WeChat Mini-Programs can be extracted and integrated with data collected from other external sources and platforms. This cross-platform data integration enhances user data analysis and its relevance across various online platforms.
    For Academics:
  • Effortless access:?
    Researchers enjoy the convenience of one-click access to real-time updates on the status of their academic papers, ensuring they remain informed without unnecessary delays.
  • Multiple Account Management:
    The Mini-Program allows researchers to link multiple journal accounts, providing quick access to the status of their articles across these accounts.
  • Payment Convenience:
    Mini-Program aligns with WeChat’s secure payment system, simplifying and securing transactions related to academic research activities.
  • Enhanced Interactivity:
    WeChat Mini-Program supports powerful social functions, such as allowing researchers to share details of their publication success with their colleagues. It increases the participation of researchers and improves the interactivity and dissemination of the Mini-Program.

In conclusion, WeChat Mini-Programs have changed the way businesses operate within China, offering a seamless and efficient platform for various services. Beyond business, the integration of academic and publishing endeavours within Mini-Programs serves as a testament to their versatility. Mini-Programs provide a dynamic, real-time and interactive environment for researchers, publishers and users, supporting the vision of Tencent – one super-app to provide all services and the use of technology for social good.

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