There are three types of people in social media: people who are all business, people who share everything ten times a day, and people who are in between. The anti-social, anti-sharing, and anti-media people don’t count.
People who are all business have a social media strategy and operate like corporations. They have multiple accounts, often creating fake Facebook accounts for themselves while keeping their personal one private and unsearchable. They apply the same strategy to WeChat, creating one, two, maybe even three accounts. These days, you need to attach your WeChat to a phone number, so these are the people who walk around carrying three iPhone 6 pluses that look exactly the same. You probably never noticed that they have more than one phone.
People who share everything ten times a day? We all have at least one of such people in our friend circles (I hide their moments for the sake my sanity), but they’re the ones who post a good morning post, a photo of their coffee, a quote or song that inspired them on the way to work, a photo of their lunch with a location tag, a photo of their gym workout gear, photos of dinner with location and people tags, and don’t forget all the interesting links and articles they managed to find in between all their other posts. These people don’t usually filter their posts, but just post spontaneously when they feel like it. Later, they might regret their post and delete it, or change the privacy settings (not possible on WeChat, yet), so if you see something interesting, take a screenshot of it before it disappears!
The people who are in-between these two extremes are probably the most “normal”. Being in between doesn’t mean you don’t post at all, or that you never post any promotional posts for your company or friends, it just means that you pace your posts or target specific people (who might actually be interested in what you’re sharing). What this means is that if you have kids, you would limit sharing a kid-post to everyone about once a week to everyone (public) or at least to the people who don’t have kids. You could, however, share more posts about your children to a specific group of people who you know have children as well, or family, or close friends.
You could do the same for work related posts, event related posts (only posting events that would interest a specific group of people), and personal commentaries (e.g., political opinions). You have to decide what criteria you use to categorize your contact list so that you can properly set your privacy settings, though, which is usually the most difficult part.
“Don’t Share Moments”
When I first began using WeChat, I didn’t set up tiered privacy settings. I lived in a black and white world where I had friends, and then I had people I didn’t really know (acquaintances). With my simple way of thinking, I thought I could just hide my moments from the people who were not my friends. Naturally, those people would then block me from seeing their moments (or just put me in a red group). Eventually, we would just delete one another because we never talked and had nothing to share with each other. Don’t be like I was. Never hide your moments unless you suspect the person adding you is a scammer or something. Sometimes, you think you’ll never see that person again, but just by occasionally seeing their updates you can get to know them better, realize you have mutual acquaintances, the same political beliefs, or share the a favorite restaurant. You might comment when they need assistance, or have a question, and they might help you–and then, guess what? You’ll make a friend.
You should still have a different levels of privacy set up on WeChat, though. WeChat is a social networking platform, but just as you wouldn’t go about making friends with everyone the same way, you should also control how you’re presenting yourself on WeChat. It might take some trial and error, but here we show you the key ideas to get you started.
Step 1: What are tags?
Tags are a categorization tool that help you search for contacts in your list and allow you to send a message to an entire group, e.g., “work”. However, for the purposes of this guide, a tag is a tool for managing privacy settings by grouping your contacts. For example, you can create traffic light colors: “red”, “green”, “yellow” or you can create tags that are more straight-forward, such as “work safe”, “public”, or “classmates”.
You can give each contact as many labels as you want, but this will complicate your privacy settings as it will make it more difficult to prevent them from seeing things. My recommendation is to only give each contact one single tag to make it more manageable.
However, this method will cause most contacts to have more than one tag as no one fits well into a single box, which complicates your privacy settings. Hence, I recommend categorizing your contacts another way, and using the tags for grouping for privacy instead.
Step 2: What tags shall I use?
For beginners, I would recommend a system a friend told me about. He said that in addition to the separate work WeChat he has, he utilizes a tiered privacy system like a traffic light: red, yellow, green.
Red: “Stop and think before you post!”
The highest privacy where you only share things that you wouldn’t mind broadcasting publicly (like a blog). This is especially the case if you have public moments set up (where everyone can see your last 10 publicly shared moments). If you have to stop and consider who can see what you share, what consequences may come out of it, and whether someone will be offended–then you should choose red for high security. Tag people you barely want to share moments with as red.
Yellow: “Wait, and think about what you can post!”
A medium setting where you might share dinner outings or selected updates with your colleagues, for example. If you feel like sharing more with these people, but still don’t know them well enough, or feel comfortable enough, sharing everything with them, tag them as yellow.
Green: “Go for it!”
The most public setting where you share anything you feel like sharing, usually only open to people who are less “picky”. Tag your best friends as green!
Note: you might be tempted to post “green” content to “public” (untagged groups), but here’s two reasons why you shouldn’t:
- Non-grouped content will go into your public moments, if enabled.
- Sometimes WeChat will glitch and new contacts will not be tagged when you accept them, or your changes will not be saved immediately (especially with data), in which case they can see everything that you’ve shared in “green”.
Step 3: Decide who gets which tag
The key to grouping for privacy is consistency. Not only do you want acquaintances who are mutual friends to be in the same group (under the same tag), so that they will see the same set of moments, but you also want to share the right content to the right group, consistently. People will find out if you share more with certain friends and less with others. You’d be surprised how often someone will message someone else behind someone’s back with “did you see what she posted?!”…Don’t give them reason to talk.
In addition, it’s a good idea to have certain networks, such as a company network, under the same tag for the same reason.
Step 4: Remember to select a tagged group when posting on moments
It takes a while to make it habitual, but until you do, just delete moments that you forgot to privatize.
How long does it take to change the privacy settings for all your WeChat contacts?
Depends on how many contacts you have.
Does every contact have to be tagged? Can’t some contacts just see everything?
No, and yes, but if you leave certain contacts untagged, then when you post, you have to remember to select exceptions (“Share with everyone except”) rather than inclusions (“Share with these groups”).
For example, if you have a significant other who is not in any of your groups, and then you share a photo taken at a work function with your work group (“yellow”), then your significant other won’t be able to see it. Instead, share to everyone except certain groups (select “red”, etc.), then just ensure that every single contact is tagged in a group.
What if I never feel like posting to my “red” group?
It’s understandable to wonder why you should ever post in this group, but people who never post, or only post a link once every few months, have obviously grouped others. If you have no moments, or very few moments, your contacts know what you’ve done and will either return the favor or end up deleting you (in other words, failed networking). You want to share a good mixture of links, useful things, events, food, and maybe even family. Remember to post just often enough for them to remember you exist, but not so much that they tire of your updates and opt to hide your moments.
What if I change someone from yellow to red? Will they know?
When you change someone’s tag/group, it won’t affect past posts, but it will affect future posts. Your contact will not suddenly be unable to see something you had previously shared with them, but they will not be able to see new updates for that group. So, whether they notice they’ve changed levels depends on how well you manage what you share and how much they care.