WeChat has garnered a lot of attention in the US media lately, especially with Forbes’ recent article on how Tencent’s WeChat is about to overtake Facebook as the world’s No.1 social network. For those who are unfamiliar with WeChat, it is a multimedia mobile app that can handle all your instant message needs: text and video chat, video calling, push to talk, photo/video and location sharing, group messaging, broadcasting messaging, photo sharing and discovering new people around you via “look around”, “shake” and “drift a bottle” functions. In July 2013, Tencent launched WeChat 5.0 with new features such as payment capability, emoticon purchases, game center, “hold together” function to add friends nearby and much more.
Launched in January 2011, WeChat recently announced they have over 600 million users (that’s double the population of United States of America!). With increasing popularity in the Americas, Australia and Europe, WeChat’s overseas users has doubled from 50 million to 100 million since May 2013. Earlier this year, WeChat opened its research office in Palo Alto, CA. This demonstrates their interest to expand Tencent and WeChat internationally.
How does this impact brands in the US? For one, it’s a new marketing platform that brands can leverage to geo-target their community. It offers a niche social community that has a strong, closed intimate social circle with up to a 99% open rate for pushed content. Second, more and more people are signing up for WeChat because it’s a single app that can handle all of their multimedia messaging needs. Third, referring to my earlier point, this platform will soon have more active users than Facebook, which presents ample opportunities for marketers.
So why should brands consider WeChat in their marketing strategy? I’ll give you four reasons:
1. They have a large number of users (more than 600 million users and growing)
2. Precise positioning – they categorize people according to their location and gender
3. Personalized social CRM is tailored and targeted to individual’s needs.
4. Brands can apply for a public account. Once verified, they will receive an unique WR code where users can scan to follow the account and receive brand notifications.
As Tencent expands their operations in North America, it will be interesting to see how they maneuver future partnerships with US brands. WeChat is definitely on my radar for 2014. Is it on yours?