Image how your life would be with no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and Google products? 1.3 billion Chinese have no choice but develop its own social media network and tools. You can find almost all the equivalent websites or platforms in China -- Weibo is Chinese Twitter, Youku/Tudou is the localized Youtube, Baidu dominates the search engine market. However, the social media giant is no doubt Wechat.
What's Wechat? It is a combination of Whatsapp, Skype, Instagram, Paypal, Uber and RSS. It has 889million active users and 10 million corporate accounts to push content and provide services.
If you download it for the first time, wechat is just another version of Whatsapp, which is commonly used in Asia predominately in China. You might drop Wechat after playing with it for an hour, and find no joy on exploring all the mysterious but hidden functions it has. But I can be your first wechat friend (xiniwei911) to chat about everything you wanna know about China.
After the personal level, you may start exploring official account by following DUBAIREN on Wechat (press “Plus” button on the right hand corner, then “add contacts”, choose “official accounts” and type “dubairen2009”, and ADD). Entering the official account, you will find it a mini-website/blog. You will receive daily articles in the “subscription” .
However, Wechat’s magic is far more than chatting and information consumption platform.
Magic QR Code
Wechat’s basic function of adding contacts is through QR Code. QR Code might be one of the most important tools to connect online and offline user experience, and an alternative way of exchanging business card in China.
Scan personal or corporate QR code and save as contacts. Scan the brand QR code to redeem the discount, visit the content, follow the official account or play the interactive game. Scan the QR code on the restaurant table for the electronic menu and pay the bill.
Red Pocket and Wechat Pay
Giving away red pocket has been an old tradition in China, when people celebrate the Spring Festival, big birthday, marriage and newborn baby. With Wechat-red-pocket function, those who are not physically there to give family and friends find a perfect solution.
More interestingly, the Wechat red-pocket introduces a mechanism for the group. You set a amount of red pocket and number of people to share it. The system will automatically split the money into random amounts. Those who “grab and open” the red pocket first will see his luck, i.e. you might get the least money among your friends even if you open the red-pocket first. But if you are too late, you might end up finding an empty red-pocket. (If you can’t manipulate the luck, train yourself to become fast-hand!)
Behind red-pocket is Wechat Pay. As another old tradition, Chinese like to keep and carry cash. Not even the introduction of credit card changes this mentality. However, Wechat pay successfully replaces the changes and small bills in the restaurants and food court. People no longer need to carry coins to visit food court, or ask waiter to split the bill. Everything can be done on Wechat with a QR-coding and 5s scanning.
How to use Wechat Pay is very likely your following question. One simple step: link your E-wallet to a Chinese debit or credit card...!
E-commerce and Monetization
There are a dozen of ways to make money on Wechat:
If the official account has a great quality follower base (over 5,000), it can sell the banner position for programmatic buy, similar as website banner ads. But it only gets paid if people click on the banner.
If the personal official account has a close community, he/she can encourage the readers to pay “awards” for the efforts.
Selling stuff on Wechat is another approach. Inspired by Alibaba, Wechat enables small business owners to set up a “mini-shop” and sell their products there. The product description, customer service and links to review or other products won’t be much less overwhelming than Taobao, however, it is a great channel to sell clothes, toys, travel products.
New York Times made a brilliant video last year on Wechat: How Wechat is in every piece of your life.
Enjoy it yourself, and we will talk about how to use Wechat as a brand soon, and Chinese social influencers' management.