What are the most-read blogs on China's WeChat?
Data reveal the fields of interest, preferences of topics, and the varied tastes of more than 1.3 billion WeChat users.
WeChat Blog, otherwise known as WeChat Official Account, is a Chinese social media interface where registered individuals or companies can send service notifications, publish targeted content, and seek out potential business partners. The blogs and articles are directly sent into a user's message feed, which is a simple and not-so-technical process friendly to startup content creators.
It is noteworthy that Substack, a self-publishing newsletter site where you read Ginger River Review (GRR) and other personal newsletters, also took inspiration from China's WeChat, according to its founders.
Your Ginger River believes that there are many valuable contents worth reporting from the Chinese language world to the outside world, and it has continued to look for high-quality content from many types of Chinese media and social media platforms, with WeChat serving as one of its key sources.
Today's piece is an article introducing the top 10 WeChat blogs that produced the most original articles with over 100,000 views and the top 10 most-liked original articles with over 100,000 reads on WeChat blogs in 2022, with their links. It also includes an analysis of the WeChat Blog's "content ecosystem" with data and some thoughtful notes.
The piece was originally published on 新榜 Newrank on Jan. 15, a WeChat blog focusing on new media and e-commerce. A comprehensive demonstration of major WeChat blogs is drawn from the daily monitor of Newrank.
Here are some highlights:
The top 10 blogs that produced the most original articles with over 100,000 views in 2022 had one thing in common: they paid great attention to current affairs including international topics from China-US relations to the Russia-Ukraine conflicts, social hotspots from Bing Dwen Dwen to the lockdown in Shanghai due to the COVID epidemic.
It is also worth noting that individual blogs occupy the majority compared to company-run blogs and official accounts of local governments. And blogs that won a lot of popularity always delivered their articles in concise language and well-argued with adequate evidence.
The top 10 most-liked original articles with 100,000 reads in 2022 include the popularity of the Beijing Winter Olympic mascot "Bing Dwen Dwen", the calling for justice from the indignation of Tangshan restaurant attack event, the impact that COVID-19 and its prevention measures have on people's lives, and Chinese standpoints in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
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In 2022, WeChat Blog turned 10 years old.
Challenged by late movers such as Douyin, Kuaishou, Bilibili, Xiaohongshu, and Jinri Toutiao, WeChat Blog perhaps has lost some momentum, but it remains one of the most influential content platforms on the Chinese internet.
Newrank, a provider of social media content monitoring and ranking services, monitors WeChat blogs with more than 1 million followers on a daily basis. According to a sample database monitored by Newrank, WeChat blogs created at least 398 million articles from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, that is to say, more than 1,092,700 new articles are sent to users every day.
1. Top 10 WeChat blogs that have contributed most to the top 1,000 original articles with over 100,000 reads in 2022：
1 Youlieryoumian 有理儿有面
An individual blog registered in 2019 with a primary focus on political commentaries [one blogger on Zhihu, the Chinese equivalent of Quora, claims that it is under the auspices of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC)]. It features editorials on geopolitical shifts related to the Chinese government and society, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Taiwan question, and China-US relations. As an avid promoter of Chinese interests and values, it often reports the economic achievements and international presence of China with simple and engaging language, and offers its own suggestions as to the future track of development.
2 Jushixilun 局势析论
A young blog of less than 12 months almost entirely dedicated to COVID origin stories. It advocates that COVID and even monckeypox were created in American labs and identifies Fort Detrick Biological Laboratory in Frederick, Maryland as the likeliest place of origin. The articles are supported by quotes from the media and personal surmises based on suspicious events.
3 Dongjian 洞见
A collection of elegantly-written essays offering life advice. Using literary quotes and uplifting life stories, it promotes the philosophy of peace, balance, and care, as is often seen in traditional Chinese culture. The blog is updated daily to provide constant remedies for the mind.
4 Zhanhao 占豪
The name of the blog “占豪” Zhanhao, a homophone for “战壕” "trenches", pinpoints the main theme of its contents - war and politics. Writing entirely from the Chinese perspective, the articles delineate the gains and challenges China will be facing in light of geopolitical turns. The author writes with patriotic ardour in a colloquial style, often addressing the readers directly.
5 Shijuezhi (Vision Zone) 视觉志
An enterprise-run blog that provides up-to-date summaries and analyses of entertainment hotspots and social issues. Professionally written articles with sensational titles and plenty of pictures have helped gather more than 3 million followers on WeChat.
6 Yuanfangqingmu 远方青木
A company-run blog registered in 2018 with the slogan of acquiring new knowledge every day. The blog covers a wide range of content from the perspective of history, culture, politics, technology and so on. The account updates quality articles on a daily basis and has many faithful followers. However, it was once alleged plagiarizing articles from another blog and once criticized by China Central Television (CCTV) for spreading malicious rumors about the rationing of the electricity supply in December 2021.
7 Zhongyuan Shield 中原盾
An official account of the Political and Legal Committee of the CPC Henan Provincial Committee. Since its registration in 2016, it has always adhered to the correct political orientation and properly guided public opinion, upholding the concept of "telling good stories, spreading positivity and promoting the main theme of politics and law" and has organized various publicity activities online. It ranks among the most influential WeChat accounts for political and legal systems in China since 2021.
8 Shiyi 拾遗
An individual blog providing analysis on social hotspots and entertainment stars in a storytelling tone. The articles headlines are always short and sensational, attracting readers for a closer look. Some readers love its emotional language and thought-provoking interpretation, while some criticize it for biased arguments and lack of supporting evidence.
9 Yanshulou 燕梳楼
An individual blog dedicated to critical commentary on social issues. The author claims to speak out for people and justice and he was called "Hero Yan" by lots of readers. But there are also netizens who think his viewpoints are too idealized to make practical sense.
10 Jiubian 九边
An individual blog registered in 2018 focuses on knowledge sharing in politics, economy and history. Based on the author's extensive reading, the articles are quite reader-friendly and can explain complicated things in a brief and interesting way, so readers are more willing to like and repost them. [Check a GRR's previous post of Jiubian's story: How China prepared for potential invasion from Soviet Union with mankind’s largest doomsday project]
Covering international topics from China-U.S. relations to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, 有理儿有面 Youlieryoumian and 局势析论 Jushixilun became the two most prolific blogs in terms of original articles that amassed over 100,000 views. The article titled “What we can learn from the refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine” published by Youlieryoumian received over 16,000 likes and was flagged by 83,000 as a top story that can be seen by WeChat friends.
Of all the international topics in 2022, the Russia-Ukraine conflict might be the most talked-about subject. The topic appeared in original articles of blogs like 占豪 "Zhanhao" and 拾遗 "Shiyi", and won over 100,000 views for many of them.
Due to the complexity of the topic, however, those blogs didn’t convert the huge readership into as significant economic value as blogs that covered a specific segment, such as makeup and automobiles.
2. The 10 most-liked articles from the top 1,000 original articles with over 100,000 reads in 2022
[Notes: The first 4 articles have the same number of likes as 100,001 because it is very likely that they all reached the upper limit of the number of “likes”.]
1 Why is the Olympic mascot "Bing Dwen Dwen" so popular? Exclusive story from its designer [published by 央视新闻 CCTV News Center] 100,001 likes
CCTV News Center unveiled the birth story behind the Olympic mascot "Bing Dwen Dwen" on Feb. 6, 2022. The article explored why "Bing Dwen Dwen" has gained so much popularity and responded to the question by introducing its ingenious design and painstaking effort from a design team led by Cao Xue, a professor of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.
2 30 reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic [published by 拾遗 Shi Yi] 100,001 likes
The article makes 30 concise remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic situation in China on Dec. 7, 2022. It talks about the likely co-existence of the virus and humans in the long term and how the public can view reasonably China's new COVID-19 control measures and offers insights about other hot issues related to the pandemic, such as vaccination for the aged and deficiency of medical resources.
3 "People first" is not "COVID control first" [published by 浙江宣传 Zhejiang Publicity] 100,001 likes
Zhejiang Publicity, the official account of the Publicity Department of the Party’s Zhejiang Provincial Committee, published an article on China's COVID-19 control on Nov. 29, 2022. It stressed the importance of staying true to the original intention of the pandemic response and always putting people's lives first, as power abuse in epidemic prevention have brought difficulties for the masses such as the interruption of normal production and living order. The article also calls for more time and trust given to China's pandemic response and adjustment to disease control measures with the minimum impact on the economy and people's lives. One week later, on Dec. 7, China further adjusted and optimized COVID response by releasing 10 new measures.
4 Criminal records are found behind two suspects in Tangshan restaurant attack event [published by 任易 Renyi] 100,001 likes
Judging from the practiced and skillful fighting behavior of the two suspects involved in the case, Renyi, the author of an individual blog sharing work experience and analyzing public opinion, inferred that they must have committed crimes more than once. And he has found out that from online records and written verdicts, the two suspects have managed to get away with the deserved punishment after many crimes. The article's well-founded reasoning and detailed evidence attracted great attention and heated discussion on Chinese social media.
5 Moral indignation is a call for justice [published by 罗翔说刑法 Luo Xiang talks about criminal law] 99,591 likes
The author Luo Xiang, a Chinese law professor famous for his thorough interpretations on the National Judicial Examination of the Chinese mainland, first analyzes the recent Tangshan case about seven people allegedly assaulting four women at a barbecue restaurant from the perspective of Chinese criminal law. The author points out that public indignation comes out of both sympathy and empathy, and it calls for justice of the law, as well as self-disciplined morality to respect other people. The article resonated with lots of readers and received many thought-provoking comments.
6 Tonight WeChat Moments of Shanghai residents can be called a 315 Gala [published by V姐来了 Vjielaile] 97,879 likes
A sardonic review on the provisions for Shanghai residents under lockdown - mouldy meat from unknown manufacturers, counterfeit oil with apparently faulty production information, and antigen test kits labeled to be have been produced at a future date. The author speaks from her own experiences and compares the outburst of complaints to the 315 Gala, a popular annual exposition of consumer rights abuses. The article was received with heart-felt indignation for its insinuation of appalling corruption in the municipal supply chains.
7 The funniest joke: an anti-war person is not anti-America [published by 拾遗 shiyi] 94,644 likes
The author explains why the Chinese people have every right to side with Russia in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, through a prose-like narrative of similar threats facing China and Russia. The hegemony of the United States, the author writes, is the bane of suffering not only in Ukraine, but also in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, etc., and the root of geopolitical tensions surrounding Russia and China. It is the reason why no peace shall fall without steadfast opposition to the U.S. government.
8 What Shanghai residents are really afraid of in the face of COVID-19 [published by 科学有故事 kexueyougushi] 93,719 likes
A science writer interviews two doctors who have first-hand information regarding the Shanghai pandemic, in the hope of mitigating panic and fear among Shanghai residents. The key takeaways are that Omicron infections have mostly mild symptoms, that Shanghai has had zero deaths from the outbreak, and that home quarantine is strongly recommended. The article serves as a piece of consolation against the backdrop of overrun hospitals and uncoordinated quarantine measures.
9 What it would mean for China if Russia lost [published by 燕梳楼 yanshulou] 71,641 likes
A strong appeal for support for Russia, warning that China would be vulnerable to attacks from all sides should Russia lose its battle. The article states that Ukraine means as much to Russia as Taiwan means to China [China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies relevance between the two], and that Ukraine is far from innocent in fawning on the US. Russia is therefore defending its own interests by all accounts. China, under the imminent threat of the American military scheme, should side with Russia so as to defend our sovereignty and independence.
10 Dialogue with ‘the most difficult Chinese in COVID-19 epidemiological investigations’: He came to Beijing to search for his missing son, and worked at construction sites until midnight to support family [published by 中国新闻周刊 China News Weekly] 71,244 likes
China News Weekly interviews Yue, who came under intensive attention when his miseries were known through epidemiological investigation. Doing manual labor all through the night and living in a crude hovel in Beijing suburbs, Yue's sole purpose in life is to find his missing son and support his family. He is seen as a noble toiler and father, and is met with respect and sympathy. Things took a different turn, however, when the police disclosed more information concerning Yue's missing son, who had been confirmed dead.
Flagging an article as a top story that can be seen by WeChat friends means the reader is willing to share an article to his WeChat friends.
The editorial office also selected the 10 most-flagged articles from the top 1,000 original articles with over 100,000 reads in 2022. These articles talked about some topics readers were willing to share the most last year.
Worth noting is only two articles amassed over 100,000 reads, flags, and likes simultaneously in 2022. The two articles were “Why is the Olympic mascot "Bing Dwen Dwen" so popular? Exclusive story from its designer” from CCTV News Center and “The patience of Shanghai residents has been pushed to the limit” from individual account "moyefuren". The two articles brought home the two sides of public emotion.
The former revealed the pride of Chinese people in their country, while the latter reflected their helplessness and confusion during the pandemic.
3. Some numbers
398 million articles, only 78,000 original articles with more than over 100,000 reads
The output of total articles and hot stories on WeChat Blog didn’t change a lot in the past few years.
Statistics from Newrank showed WeChat Blog totally produced 398 million articles in 2022. In 2020, the figure was 387 million.
In 2022, 78,000 original creations on WeChat Blog got over 100,000 views, equivalent to 213.79 articles on average each day. In August 2019, the number was 248.4.
Hot stories were still hard to come by, while amassing fewer than 10,000 views was the norm for most creators.
Among the 398 million articles, those with over 100,000 reads accounted for less than 0.09 percent, while articles with fewer than 10,000 views made up over 98.62 percent. In other words, for every 10,000 articles, only nine got over 100,000 reads while more than 9,862 were read less than 10,000 times. (Related: 90 percent original articles are read less than 10,000 times every day | WeChat Official Account Article Data Report 2.0)
Non-original creations still represented the overwhelming majority. But the larger the view count, the higher the share of original articles.
Only 4.92 percent of the 398 million articles were original, but as much as 21.41 percent of the 364,300 articles read over 100,000 times were original.
The content creation ecosystem of WeChat Blog has entered a relatively stable state. Dark horse blogs across various sectors have been rare in the past few years.
4 .Hot topics pushed views above over 100,000, is “argument” the first secret to traffic?
The original articles with over 100,000 reads on WeChat Blog witnessed some of the most-discussed trending topics in 2022.
For the headlines of those original articles with over 100,000 reads in 2022, the top 50 words with the most frequency can be seen in the picture above. Among them, the top five most frequent words are pandemic, Russia, Ukraine, Putin and COVID-19, which indicates heated discussion on Russia-Ukraine conflict and the long-lasting epidemic.
Creators posted numerous articles read over 100,000 times by covering trending topics, from sports and entertainment topics such as Bing Dwen Dwen at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and a war of words between Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu and her ex-husband Wangxiaofei, and current affairs like the Russia-Ukraine conflict and China-U.S. relations, to social problems including “toxic” textbooks, tragic suicide of 15-year-old Liu Xuezhou suffering cyber violence, Tangshan restaurant attack, Wu Aping who commemorated Buddhist memorial tablets of Japanese war criminals in Nanjing, and nucleic acid testing.
These topics were rarely one-sided. In early 2022, the Russia-Ukraine conflict became a debating battleground between pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia netizens. The WeChat blog Yuanfangqingmu directly confronted BJNews and China News Weekly, claiming some media outlets focused solely on getting a lot of traffic without obeying the code of ethics. The article “A 15-year-old boy hounded to his death by big, black-hearted media” got 29,000 likes and were flagged by 18,000 as a top story that can be seen by WeChat friends.
Those debates have generated a great number of articles with over 100,000 views. But unfortunately, readers still find it very hard to understand which side represents “truth and justice”. In the internet era, we still lack the luxury of making the truth clearer through debates. Articles, such as “Chinese language has perhaps, indeed been dead”, that can cause the readers to think and spread among them, are becoming fewer and fewer.
Of course, not all the original articles read over 100,000 times followed trending topics. “We worked as food delivery riders, made undercover calls, looked through 1,907 judgments, and finally figured out the evolution of food delivery platforms” from the blog "yixiclub" added more details to “Food delivery riders, trapped in the system”, a popular article in 2021.
On the whole, WeChat Blog did not see much change in the number of articles and creators from 2021 to 2022. The 10-year-old business is developing quite steadily. And thanks to the social function of WeChat, WeChat Blog still enjoys an advantage in fermenting and communicating social emotions. Quite a lot of trending events in 2022 were discussed on WeChat Blog.
For creators, despite ongoing discussions over declining hits and views, the fundamentals of WeChat Blog were still there.
How much value unspent is left in WeChat Blog? This may be a question worth constant reflection.