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WeChat is a messaging and calling application (app) that allows users to send messages, make voice and video calls, play games, conduct financial transactions, and share photos with their family and friends across different regions in the world (Ding & Xu, 2014). It is an app that has been widely embraced by online merchants as well as people who like to connect with family and friends through social media. It has received widespread recognition because it is free, and anyone interested in using it can download it to their Smartphone. Moreover, it has been described as the largest solo messaging app that attracts the largest number of users every month (Jing, 2014).
It was developed by Tencent in China and was officially launched in 2011. Its compatibility with different operating systems ensures that it serves many people. It is compatible with Android, iPhone, Windows, Blackberry, and Symbian mobile phones, among others (Ding & Xu, 2014). According to statistics released in 2015, WeChat has 468 million active users around the world (Leading Social Networks Worldwide, 2015). Even though the largest percentage of users is located in China, more than 70 million users are in other countries around the world. Users have the option of registering with their Facebook accounts or mobile phone numbers.
Reasons why WeChat is a good marketing tool
WeChat is a good marketing tool because of its many features that promote connections and communication among users. The app supports messaging in the form of texts, images, voice, and broadcast (Jing, 2014). This means that users can communicate, share videos and photographs, and exchange videos, thus creating a platform that is highly effective for use as a marketing tool. Another feature that supports this purpose is the option that allows users to integrate it with other social networking services (Jing, 2014). Online marketing is a successful niche because of social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and MySpace. This feature makes the app more valuable and useful because it can connect users in different social network services and thus increase the number of people it can reach (Ding & Xu, 2014).
The app also provides an option for users to create captions to accompany photographs. This feature is common among established social network platforms that are favored by marketers. When the app was launched in 2011, critics argued that it would not expand beyond china because the language is used. However, later improvements led to the addition of a machine translation service that translates messages into languages such as English (Jing, 2014). This service has expanded its impact and use. The app also allows users to send gift cards, name cards, and coupons to other users (Gonzalez, 2014). These features are important for marketers who use coupons to promote their products and services. Messages can be sent to individuals or groups. In addition, users can create group chats of up to 500 people and interact without fear because the app provides users with great control over their privacy.
Audiences are well engaged because statistics have shown that users check the app every six minutes on average (Jing, 2014). Marketers can take advantage of the high level of activity to promote products and services. Additionally, the app has a feature that allows users to generate individual QR codes that people can scan and use to become followers. Companies and businesses can subscribe to the service and get followers. This is an effective and efficient way for businesses and individuals to offer products and services to communicate with people in their target markets (Gonzalez, 2014). Another benefit of the app is the high number of subscribers that use it across the world. As mentioned earlier, the service has more than 480 million active users across the world, with the largest percentage located in china.
The service is attracting more subscribers because its language support feature has been customized to operate in 20 different languages (Jing, 2014). In addition, its machine translation service can translate messages from one language to another for effective communication. Features such as Friend Radar, Shake, and people nearby allow users to make new friends, which is an important feature for marketers (Gonzalez, 2014).
One of the most effective features of the app that can serve marketers efficiently is “Moment.” This feature allows users to post messages and read updates from their friends. For marketing purposes, merchants can post pictures of their products and add captions that provide additional information to their followers. This is an effective advertisement and marketing strategy. Users can also share this information with other users as individuals or groups (Gonzalez, 2014). The app also allows users to register under the public account option that allows them to send feeds to subscribers and communicate easily. WeChat can be used by merchants to send feeds regarding specific products to their followers and friends.
WeChat has an advanced payment platform that allows users to transact online and either buy or pay for merchandise (Rein, 2014). The service allows users to connect their bank accounts with their WeChat account and transfer money to their friends (Millward, 2014). However, the service is only applicable to users in China who have connected their credit or debit card to the app. Merchants can take advantage of this feature to conduct ecommerce.
WeChat launched the feature as part of its strategy to grow from a conventional text messaging service into a mobile wallet service. The money transfer service includes other services such as ecommerce, online taxi booking, online payments, purchase of movie tickets, purchase of coupons, and online personal finance fund (Millward, 2014). WeChat is competing with other online payment services such as Alibaba’s Alipay that has boosted the growth of the company significantly. The money transfer option is flexible because a user can either transfer money from their card to a WeChat wallet user or from one user’s WeChat wallet to another user’s wallet (Millward, 2014).
WeChat has grown its user base significantly since its launch in 2011. It is among the 10 most used social network services in the world. The table below shows how it compares to other social network services.
|Services||Number of users (millions)|
|1, 415, 000, 000|
|700, 000, 000|
|Qzone||629, 000, 000|
|Facebook Messenger||500, 000, 000|
|468, 000, 000|
|Skype , Instagram, and Google+||300, 000, 000|
|Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, LINE||Less than 300 million|
Table 1: Number of active users in millions as of march 2015 (Leading Social Networks Worldwide, 2015).
These statistics are proof that WeChat had grown rapidly since its founding four years ago. It has grown fast, primarily due to the high population of China. Currently, it is trying to extend its influence into the United States by using strategies such as gift cards and coupons (Rein, 2014). It is encouraging users to synchronize their Google and WeChat accounts in order to enjoy their various services. The expansion plan has been met with numerous obstacles because of the influence of other services such as LINE, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Research has established that the US market does not embrace instant messaging services as much as it embraces other services (Rein, 2014). Other instant messaging services that operate in the US have fewer subscribers compared to those in European and Asian countries. Despite this challenge, the app has a wide and growing market in Asia and Europe.
WeChat has a bright future because of its expansion plan that is targeting the American market. Its rapid growth in the past four years is proof enough that it is a preference among users around the world. It offers several features that attract people of all ages. For instance, its money transfer option is an effective way of sending money through its WeChat wallet or through a bank. The application is an effective marketing tool that has been very successful, as evident from its number of users. In terms of active users, it is rivaled by a few services that have been in existence more years than WeChat has.
It is highly likely that it will surpass all other social network services in the next five years if it succeeds in implementing its expansion plan, especially in the United States. Its success can be attributed to the high population of China that accounts for more than 400 million of its current active users. WeChat’s success and fame will soar after the introduction of its services to other markets around the world.
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Ding, M., & Xu, J. (2014). The Chinese Way. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Gonzalez, F. (2014). WeChat 33 Success Secrets: 33 Most Asked Questions on WeChat-What You Need to Know. New York, NY: History Ink Books. Web.
Jing, Y. (2014). WeChat Aims to Grow in US Despite Obstacles. Web.
Leading Social Networks Worldwide as of March 2015, Ranked by Number of Active Users (in Millions). (2015). Web.
Millward, S. (2014). WeChat Users in China can Now Transfer Money to Each Other. Web.
Rein, S. (2014). The End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation, and Individualism in Asia. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. Web.