Is WeChat The App We All Need?
For anyone who has ever taken an interest in Chinese social media you’ll probably’ve heard of WeChat. For those of us who haven’t looked beyond the realms of Western social media platforms, you’re probably thinking , eh? Well allow me to explain…
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT IT?
In China, many of the popular social media platforms do not exist. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and also no Google. Weird right? I mean how do they survive?! Well they do have some alternatives that pose as the Apps we know. Youtube is substituted for Youku and Twitter for Weibo, which is literally identical.
WeChat has all the basic social networking tools but with some added originality. From the app you can also, schedule hospital appointments, pay bills, order food and much more. WeChat was created by Chinese tech company Tencent and is now an integral part of many peoples lives, just like the likes of Facebook is for us. As of August 2016, the app has 800 million monthly active users and the most impressive thing about it is, that certain features are much more ahead of time than many popular western apps.
When you first open the app, it is quite fitting that there is a person’s silhouette standing in front of the Earth because a user is able to manage all digital aspects of their world from this app alone. A typical day’s usage of WeChat would consist of checking your “Moments”, very similar to Facebook’s News Feed but much more refined and targeted to you. See what your friends have been up to, maybe join in some group chats, and order your breakfast all on the go and without having to switch apps. If you were meeting a friend for lunch, you could arrange with them, book the table and even order your meals in advance all through WeChat. And when it comes to paying for your meal, obviously you can do this too, with WeChat Pay!
HOW WECHAT IS ASSISTING YOU AT WORK
WeChat also presents great opportunities in your professional life too. Say for instance you are in a meeting, WeChat will know that there are other people in the room connected and automatically make a group with those people to encourage discussions post-meeting. Shake your phone and it will tell you who is near. Scan a QR code and you have made a new friend. Need to do some last minute shopping? Pop onto one of the WeChat shops and reserve it to a locker in which WeChat will provide you with a code to open it. Struggling for a cab? WeChat. Didi, Chinese version of Uber, is available to order through the app.
The average user will return to the app 10 times per day because so much of your daily tasks can be accomplished through WeChat. There’s no wonder the app generated $1800 million in Q1 2016 in comparison to WhatsApp with $49m.
Hearing of WeChat, you would assume it is just a messaging app when it is actually so much more. You are able to set up a public account where you can post updates like blog posts etc, and colleagues or friends can engage with them. Even more impressive, WeChat will give you analytics of your posts, like Facebook Insights. The possibilities really are endless with this app. Employ some extra code and restaurants could allow customers to order food via the public account, hospitals could let patients schedule appointments ahead of time. For business, companies could use these accounts as chat bots for promotional content.
Another innovative aspect of WeChat is the finance functionality. The fact that you can pay for your purchases almost anywhere in China with an app, is amazing. Even the smaller shops and restaurants allow you to use the app for payments. WeChat makes it much easier to leave your wallet at home, therefore there is less risk of losing it along with other valuable items like credit cards.
You can use WeChat on almost all of your devices. The app is compatible with you smartphone, tablet and even your smartwatch. Available on iOS and Android. This isn’t always the case with social media apps. Often they do not work well when the device is changed, but of course, WeChat does.
SO, IS IT THE APP WE ALL NEED?
WeChat is by no means the perfect app, as there is no such thing as one size fits all. However, it is definitely going in the right direction with the selection of in-app integrations it hosts. The amount of daily tasks you can perform within WeChat is outstanding. You can literally plan your entire day within the app. Everything from communicating with the people you need to, to ordering your lunch, to booking transport to get you there, it really is the app of the future. When are you going to get a UK version? Anyone want to collaborate?