WeChat, also called Weixin in China, is an instant-messaging app that also includes social functionalities such as a microblog. If you are familiar with the popular instant messaging app that was recently acquired by Facebook for $19 billion, then you can think of WeChat as WhatsApp plus Twitter/Facebook. TechCrunch has also recently written an article titled “If WhatsApp Is Worth $19B, Then WeChat’s Worth “At Least $60B” Says CLSA“.
WeChat was launched in early 2011 by one of China’s biggest tech company called Tencent. Within 15 months of launch, it received 100 million registered users. As of September 2013, WeChat had 271.9 million active monthly users worldwide, up 124% from the previous year.
WeChat was also a popular topic at SXSW (South by South West) 2014. Justin Tsang, Partner at Pacific Technology Ventures, mentioned that WeChat has 600 million registered users and 100 million users abroad, and will be the first truly global Chinese product. In addition, Tara Hirebet said that WeChat is an all-in-one app inspired by the people living overcrowded Asian cities who are used to hyper-tasking.
The WeChat Appeal
The appeal of WeChat is its combination of instant messaging (texts as well voice messages) and the built-in microblog feature. One key difference between WeChat and Weibo is that all of the updates that you post in WeChat are shared to only your personal WeChat instant messaging contacts , making it more private than Weibo and thus prompting more personal updates to be shared.
Brands and WeChat
Seeing the rapid growth of WeChat both locally and internationally, brands are quick to utilize WeChat’s verified company account functionality. Once users add the brand as a contact, they are able to receive updates from them. For example, I’m interested in traveling to Australia (this might be new to my bosses), so I’ve added Tourism Australia to my contacts which means I now receive their updates on things to do and any special promotions that they may be offering, such as flights or hotel deals.
From a marketing perspective, if you’d like to reach and interact with your Chinese target market via mobile, WeChat should definitely be considered. I will be talking about the different types of verified brand accounts in my next post, so stay tuned!
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