News and Case Studies

April 8, 2024 in Blog

WeChat Essentials: An Introduction to the Super App

Using WeChat to connect with the Chinese academic community.

Known as Weixin in China, WeChat was initially introduced by Tencent in 2011 as a messaging app. What started as a platform for text and voice messages soon transformed into an all-in-one super-app, encompassing a diverse range of functions within a single interface.

Understanding WeChat

WeChat’s rapid rise of over 1.67 billion active global users, can be attributed to its seamless integration of social networking, e-commerce, payment systems, and more. X (formerly Twitter) has taken inspiration from WeChat’s success and incorporated similar features to enhance user experience and drive engagement, with a desire to become the Western version of the super-app.
This highlights WeChat’s profound impact on the global tech landscape and its role as a trendsetter for other digital platforms

Key Features of WeChat

  • Messaging and Social Networking:
    At its core, WeChat remains a messaging app, enabling users to send text, voice, image and video messages. Every day, 45 billion messages are exchanged, and an additional 68 million videos are uploaded, positioning WeChat as a platform for online video content.
  • Mini Programs:
    WeChat’s Mini Programs are lightweight applications that operate within the app. They provide services ranging from shopping and gaming to utility apps, eliminating the need to download separate apps. Mini Programs have 614 million daily active users spending around 68.1 min on the Mini Programs.?This usage figure has grown year-on-year by 75 million users, which is an increase of 284% from 2017 to 2023.
  • Mobile Payments:
    WeChat Pay, an integrated payment solution, has 1.13 billion users and facilitates cashless transactions, money transfers and even bill splitting within the app. Capturing 84.3% of China’s mobile payment market share, it exceeds the number of Apple Pay users. We Chat Pay is recognised across 60 global markets and supports 17 currencies, with QR code-based payments becoming the norm.
  • E-commerce:
    WeChat users can shop for a wide variety of products and services within the app itself. Brands and businesses establish official accounts to showcase their offerings, creating a virtual mall experience.
  • Official Accounts:
    Celebrities, businesses and organisations can create official accounts to interact with followers, share updates and offer services, which means that WeChat incorporates the functionality of a marketing and customer engagement tool, as well. As of 2021, the number of WeChat official accounts had reached 3600 million. Account types include Subscription Account, Service Account, Mini Program and WeChat Work.
  • Voice and Video Calls:
    WeChat offers high-quality voice and video calls, bridging geographical gaps between users.

All-in-One Convenience:
WeChat’s diverse features consolidated into a single platform has made it an indispensable tool for users. From chatting with friends to paying utility bills, ordering food, arranging taxis and even accessing government services, WeChat offers unparalleled convenience, reducing the need for multiple apps, which explains why people in China spend over 30% of their time on the app.

Global Expansion
WeChat’s global expansion has made it an essential platform for businesses seeking to tap into the Chinese market. As of 2023, the number of WeChat users in India amounts to around 10 million, that in Japan 5.5 million and that in the United States 4 million. As the preferred platform for social interactions and e-commerce in China, it is important for brands to have a presence on WeChat.

WeChat for Publishers
For STM publishers looking to connect with Chinese researchers, leveraging the power of WeChat is essential. For publishers, WeChat serves as an invaluable platform that enables them to effectively reach and connect with their target audience in China. With its large user base and diverse functionalities, WeChat offers publishers a direct channel through which to promote publications and share valuable information about their journals and books with researchers.

Creating WeChat groups dedicated to specific research areas or academic interests allows publishers to foster engagement and interaction with the scholarly community.
Through these groups, publishers can seamlessly share their latest publications, important updates and noteworthy news, keeping researchers informed and connected.

Furthermore, WeChat’s real-time communication capabilities enable publishers to efficiently promote and organise events such as conferences, workshops and webinars.
By engaging with researchers directly on WeChat, publishers can facilitate meaningful conversations and strengthen their relationships within the Chinese research landscape.

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