Messages are probably the easiest way to communicate with one another in this day and age. This is because you don’t have to disturb others when you say something to them. Not only that but it is also the cheapest way to communicate with someone instantly. You don’t have to call them to say something. All you have to do is simply leave a message so that they can read it afterward. Just a couple of decades ago you could not message anyone across the world instantly. You could only send SMSs through your mobile phone to someone from your mobile phone. However, you could not send instant messages to someone who was living on the other side of the world. But all of that changed when social networking sites made their entry. They have completely changed how people communicated and interacted with each other in the 21st century.
There is no doubt that social media platforms have made the world a smaller place. The distance between two people has become irrelevant and the borders have been blurred. You don’t have to spend lots of money if you want to communicate with others. All you need to do is connect with the other person using a social networking site. The only thing you needed was a computer and internet connection. But as technology became more sophisticated you could do all this through your mobile phone. This advancement has given rise to different types of social media platforms. Some of these were designed exclusively for messaging. In today’s world, you will hardly find someone who uses SMSs to communicate with others. There are lots of apps for messaging and today’s article is about one such application called WeChat. So let’s dive into the topic.
What is WeChat?
Most of the people who know about this application only know that this is a messaging app which is not wrong. Because when WeChat was initially released it was just a messaging app. But over the years it has gotten more features and became much more than a messaging application. What many people don’t know is that it is a Chinese social media application. This application is created by the company Tencent. Tencent has become quite popular in recent years because of the release of their hugely successful online battle royale game PUBG. The creation of the application was started in the year 2010. The initial version of the application was first released in the same year which was created by Allen Zhang. It was officially launched in the year 2011 and during this time it was known as Weixin. By 2012 the application had already reached 100 million users.
After this, the company wanted to introduce it to people around the world so they rebranded it. This is when the application was renamed Wechat for the global audience. After this, the popularity and user base started increasing rapidly. Soon it was competing with global giants like Facebook and WhatsApp. The great thing about this was it was not hard for it to attract users even though it had fierce competition. This is because the application offered a lot more features compared to other social media platforms. Most people know it only as messaging that allows them to send text messages or voice messages but it can do a lot more than that. You can create public accounts, make digital payments, post feed, create your own mini-apps, and much more. This offers more features than one could imagine from a social media platform. Let’s see how it works.
How does it work?
The main function of WeChat is sending messages. Once you download this application you have to register your account using your mobile number. After this, you will be able to send messages to people in your contact list who use WeChat. When it comes to messaging WeChat is quite similar to Whatsapp. You can not only send text messages or voice messages but you can also share pictures, files, videos, and contacts with your friends. It also allows you to create groups if you want to group chat. Similar to other major social media platforms WeChat also allows its users to post stories on their timeline. These stories or updates can be seen by your friends. Not only that but it also allows you to control who can see your posts. While this feature is for close friends but you can also make it public temporarily to connect with others.
The other thing which is similar to other social media platforms is the feature to send emojis. There is a wide range of emoticons you can use on WeChat to send messages. Other than the messaging feature you can also use it to make digital payments. WeChat also acts as a digital wallet so if you want to use it all you have to do is provide your bank details. After you do this you will be able to transfer money to others, order goods, pay bills, and avail of services. But it is not an instant money transfer as the time taken for the transaction depends on the method of payment chosen by you. There is also enterprise WeChat which can be used by companies for communication. They can use it to track the work of employees, expenses, and other things. The other exciting feature is its mini-program feature.
Business model of WeChat
WeChat is not like most of the social media platforms you use. It can do all the things that a social media platform can do much more. So there are so many more things that it has to take care of than just being a social media platform. Let’s look at the important aspects of its business model.
This is the primary feature that WeChat is known for. It has to have this feature if it wants to attract its user base. You have to remember that WeChat is an instant messaging application that allows you to make digital payments and not the other way around. It is the all in one platform for people in China. So it has to make sure that it always adapts to the changing desires of the people.
This is what makes it a social media platform. You can post stories called “moments” that can be seen by your friends. You can keep them updated with your everyday lifestyle. The great thing about this is that you will not be sharing with the people you don’t know. These moments can only be seen by the people in your contact list. Not only that but you can also connect with the people you don’t know using this feature. All you have to do is make your account temporarily public to connect with new people.
This is the feature that makes WeChat a complete social media platform. WeChat allows you to create official accounts. These accounts are similar to pages on Facebook. Using these accounts you can gather followers and show them your content. They can receive notifications if you post something new. Not only that but businesses can use these accounts to redirect users to their e-commerce websites.
Apps within WeChat
Not just for chatting but you can also use WeChat to do many other things. There are a lot of applications that are present inside the application which you can use. You don’t have to use other applications to make use of the internet as you can do everything on WeChat.
If you are a millennial then there is no need to tell you why this feature is so important for the application. Today more and more people are using digital wallets to make payments. This is because it is very easy eliminating the need to carry cash. People can make all kinds of payments using this feature. So if WeChat has this feature then people don’t have to install another application to make digital payments.
This feature allows you to create applications using WeChat. Business owners can use this application to create smaller applications that they can use to manage their businesses. This feature is very unit to WeChat which you may not find in any other application.
How does WeChat make money?
Since it offers various services there are many ways in which it earns money.
The emoticons on WeChat are very famous and there are lots of emotions on it. If you want to get a cool set of emotions then you have to pay for them. It charges $0.99 per set of emoticons.
Yes, you can also play games on WeChat. Unlike the western world, most of the people in China are only into mobile gaming. WeChat provides them with games that are developed by Tencent. It makes a good amount of money through mobile games.
This is the most popular and common way in which many social media platform makes money. WeChat also charges money for displaying ads on their application. There are various types of ads on WeChat like banner ads, moment ads, video ads, etc. Each type of advertisement has to pay a different amount of money to WeChat.
WeChat also charges its users for making payments through its application. It charges its users 0.01% of the total funds that are transferred.
Registration fee of official accounts
If you think that official accounts are for free then you are wrong. A person who wants an official account has to pay a registration fee to verify their accounts.
This is the business model of WeChat. Within a short period of time, it has gained over a billion users. It has features that you can find in multiple applications. But the only downside is that it shares its user information with the Chinese government for surveillance purposes. You can check out other business models like the business model of Costco here.