Brands that wish to connect with consumers in China simply must be active on WeChat, one of the most popular social media apps in the world. Owned by TenCent, WeChat is known as China’s “everything app”. With over one billion active users, it is used for work, play, shopping, and most other activities in between.

80% of social media users make social commerce purchases in China, according to Accenture. Needless to say, Meta is paying close attention and many of WeChat’s most popular live stream features will soon arrive on Western social networks.

All marketers should take an interest in WeChat and get an overview of how it works. Whether wishing to grow a brand in China or just hoping to stay ahead of social media trends, it is a rich resource for deciphering the future of the industry.

WeChat, like many other social media giants, has attracted controversy for its overreaching surveillance practices. Criticism of the government is censored on WeChat and the app tracks every aspect of the user’s life - down to their ‘faceprint’, as reported in this BBC report.

The more the app is ingrained in daily life, the more sensitive data it captures. And it is undeniable that WeChat has transformed the way the Chinese public socializes and shops.

But what exactly is WeChat? How does it work? And how can brands use WeChat for marketing?

We Chat Statistics

WeChat is the international name for the app known as Weixin within China. The two apps are very similar, albeit not identical. Weixin offers more video live streaming features, while WeChat provides cheap international voice calls, for example.

The vast majority of WeChat/Weixin users live in China. There are an estimated 100 million international WeChat users, many of whom use the app to communicate with family in China.

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Clark Boyd
Clark Boyd

Clark Boyd is CEO and founder of marketing simulations company Novela. He is also a digital strategy consultant, author, and trainer. Over the last 12 years, he has devised and implemented international marketing strategies for brands including American Express, Adidas, and General Motors.

Today, Clark works with business schools at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Columbia University to design and deliver their executive-education courses on data analytics and digital marketing. 

Clark is a certified Google trainer and runs Google workshops across Europe and the Middle East. This year, he has delivered keynote speeches at leadership events in Latin America, Europe, and the US. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Slideshare. He writes regularly on Medium and you can subscribe to his email newsletter, hi, tech.

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