WeChat – mobile communication, mobile business

Tablets and smartphones have conquered the Chinese market. There are over 970 million smartphone and 460 million tablet users in China. There is a lot of potential in the Chinese mobile apps market. Tencent Holding, which developed popular QQ messenger software, is well aware of it. Thus WeChat was created.

WeChat – top messenger app in China

WeChat, known in China as Weixin (微信), is a mobile text and voice messaging communication software similar to WhatsApp. The user can communicate with his friends using text or voice messages. This is not everything: Moments is an embedded personal space, which looks very much like Facebook’s News Feed, allowing the users to publish pictures and statuses and interact with each other.

The app is available for download on the App Store and Android devices. There are also desktop versions.

WeChat app

How many people use WeChat?

This software, released in 2011, hit 50 million users the same year. Now, it has reached an awe-inspiring number of over 1.2 billion users. There are 811 million WeChat users in China, accounting for 57.9% of the total population. It is used by 78% of 16-64-year-olds in China.

Functions on WeChat

  • chatting: text, photo, voice, video, location sharing, and more (billions of messages a day)
  • group: up to 500 members
  • voice and video calls, group calls of up to 9 people
  • moments: post photos, videos, and more
  • status: post your status to capture your mood
  • sticker gallery and customs stickers to use in posts and messages
  • sharing real-time location
  • paying with Pay and Wallet features in certain regions
  • WeChat out: calling mobile phones and landlines worldwide (feature available in certain areas)
  • games
  • language support
  • additional Weixin services: Activate Channels, Official Accounts, Mini Programs
  • etc.

How can companies make use of WeChat?

WeChat is the first Chinese mobile app successful worldwide. Its development potential is so huge that it has already been noticed by big corporations and used in their marketing campaigns. Companies can use a special version of WeChat called Enterprise WeChat (Qiye Weixin, 企业微信) that has additional features. Over 30% of WeChat Official Account owners say that the app helps to cut costs by one-third.

For example, Starbucks has launched a successful social media campaign called #naturally awake#. The users could send random emoticons to the official account, and they got a link to the song, which reflected their mood in response. Cadillac had organized the photography contest called “Discover Route 66”. Both of those campaigns have employed the key features of WeChat: it is easy to use, it is easy to get in touch with a particular customer, and it is easy to reach specific audiences.

Is WeChat safe?

If you want to use WeChat, you should know that it operates in China under Chinese law, meaning strong censorship provisions and interception protocols. WeChat shares your data – messages, location, photos, contact books – with the Chinese government. For that reason, WeChat and 58 other Chinese apps were banned in India. If you want to keep your privacy, reconsider making a WeChat account.

What is the difference between WeChat and QQ?

QQ is a big Chinese communication app, just like WeChat, developed by Tencent. You can send messages, call, play games and meet new friends. To register on WeChat, you are obliged to use your registered phone number linked to your real name, but on QQ, you can be anonymous. QQ mainly targets the Chinese market; therefore, the international version is limited. It is more popular among teenagers and younger audiences.

QQ app

Mobile apps market

Mobile applications are the perfect platform for data-sharing for users around the world. As you may know, many Chinese entrepreneurs use QQ in their daily business conversation, in many cases even more often than e-mails. WeChat would not substitute QQ, but those two can certainly co-exist.

If you are planning an international marketing campaign, don’t forget about the vast opportunities offered by WeChat. If you are a software developer, remember to localize your apps to Chinese and provide Chinese-language support – it will certainly pay back, maybe even sooner than you think.