WeChat for Academia: Understanding Subscription and Service Accounts
Characterized as the national social media platform in China, WeChat has 1.28 billion monthly active users across the world. In Chinese academia, WeChat is even more important, serving as a bonding tool amongst researchers. Besides the basic messaging services, Chinese researchers also use WeChat to circulate and acquire information, for example, organizing academic conferences, recruiting PhD students and postdocs, or announcing funding opportunities. The most primary and fundamental way of circulating information in WeChat is through public accounts.
What are public accounts? How many types of public accounts are there?
Two types of public accounts are available on WeChat: subscription accounts and service accounts. The features are summarized as follows:
How are subscription and service accounts used to interact with Chinese academia?
Since most social media platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.) are banned in China, WeChat has evolved into an all-in-one and multi-purpose giant platform. Chinese researchers actively use WeChat public accounts for academic purposes. For example, laboratories use subscription accounts to recruit PhD students or postdocs, announce funding opportunities, share their latest publication and findings, etc. Academic societies and journal publishers use subscription accounts to organize conferences and announce special issues. They use service accounts to answer author queries regarding manuscript submissions and conference registration as well as for online payments.
Through WeChat, individual researchers in China connect with each other and form a community. The two types of accounts provide a highly efficient way for research publishers and societies to engage with Chinese researchers and disseminate content among Chinese academia.
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