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Your first step is simply to download the WeChat app from their website, the Google Play store or Apple App Store. Note that WeChat also has a computer app, but this still requires you to have WeChat installed on your phone first (their computer app requires you to log in via your phone).

This section of the tutorial video works you through setting up, verifying and optimising your WeChat account, including useful screenshots relating to the steps outlined below:

Setting up your account

To create your account, you simply need to sign up with your name and phone number. WeChat will text you a code to confirm your phone number, and you will also need to set a password for logging in.

Why does WeChat require verification?

However, the more complicated step comes next – you need to find someone to verify your account by scanning a QR code on your screen. This is because WeChat used to have many issues with spam bots registered under international phone numbers, so they now require new accounts to be verified to prove that you are indeed a real person.

Who is eligible to verify my account?

In order to verify your account, your verifier must meet the following criteria:

  • Signed up for WeChat over one month ago (international users) or six months ago (Chinese mainland users)
  • Not verified any other users in the past month
  • Hasn’t been blocked by WeChat in the past month
  • Has activated WeChat pay (Chinese mainland users)

In theory, WeChat requires that the person verifying your account knows you as a real person, and they should (in theory…) be doing the QR code verification process in-person.

How can I find someone to verify my account?

Your first point of call should be any Chinese friends or colleagues, as they are highly likely to have WeChat installed in order to keep in touch with friends back home (WeChat is the primary mode of communication in China). If you do not know any personal contacts with WeChat, you could also try:

  • Asking Chinese members of your community, e.g. at the local Chinese takeaway or supermarket
  • Asking in Facebook groups for online ESL teachers, international teachers in China, Chinese learning, etc.
  • Paying for someone to verify your account on platforms such as Fiverr

What issues do people encounter?

One common approach used is to send a screenshot of your QR code to a friend to then scan. However, this sometimes fails due to:

  • The QR code expiring (five minutes after being generated)
  • WeChat detecting that the other user is in a different geographic location, e.g. another country
  • The QR code being cancelled (this happens only on some phone models – if WeChat detects that you have closed the app, e.g. in order to send the screenshot elsewhere, it will automatically invalidate the QR code)

Usually, the easiest way to resolve these issues is to arrange a live video call with your verifier, who will then scan your QR code over the camera. If this fails, you may need to find another person to verify your account. In my experience, there are fewer issues if the person is in the same country as you or is registered as a mainland Chinese user of WeChat (as they have gone through an additional ID verification process).

Optimising your WeChat profile

Once you have successfully created your WeChat account, I would recommend making the following edits to your profile:

  • Change your WeChat ID to something more memorable. If you already teach with another platform, use your teacher ID for your WeChat ID so your students can easily find you.
  • Set your name to something simple, e.g. just your first name or nickname.
  • Set your region to your hometown/ nearest well known city.
  • Set your “whats up” to include a super short (30 character) bio promoting you (e.g. “qualified British ESL teacher”) – translate into Chinese if you can, it also means you can write a lot more.
  • Choose a suitable profile picture, for example you with your fun teaching background.

You should also add some friends, create some moments posts and start familiarising yourself with the app, ideally before you add some real students / potential customers. Bear in mind also that WeChat tracks your activity and looks for anything suspicious such as new accounts suddenly joining loads of groups. Try and become a “normal” WeChat user to reduce the risk of any issues!

Task: Once you’ve set up your WeChat account, find a teacher-in-need online (e.g. in our facebook group) and help them out verifying their account. Pay it forward – support another teacher and they’ll be there for you in the future!

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