WeChat is the latest social media phenomenon coming out of China.
The current numbers on WeChat are, as with everything in China, quite astounding. There are about 500 million users in China and an additional 100+ million outside of China.
Chris Baker, Founder of Totem Media, breaks down WeChat's social networking appeal for those who are just discovering this app from China.
''WeChat is poised to become China’s first true global media play, next to Alibaba, the first Chinese commercial global media entity,'' says Chris.
How Does WeChat Compare with US Social Networking Giants?
''If I was to describe WeChat to someone overseas who had only used WhatsApp or is just familiar with US social media, I would describe it as having a base of functions in terms of messaging, but it also includes sharing functions that are similar to Facebook updates. WeChat has a function called Moments, which allows users to take pictures and create a diary of things that occur in your life.''
''In the US it would be similar to something like Path, as a journal, so the Moments function of WeChat is very similar to that.''
''Tencent [the company behind WeChat] has also added an app store inside of WeChat, for things like ordering taxis. In the same way I might book an Uber car in San Francisco and it will arrive in a few minutes, i can do the same thing from inside of WeChat.''
The Secret Sauce: Seamless Bundling
''Tencent has done a really good job of managing its entire portfolio of online applications and businesses, and putting pieces of them inside of WeChat,'' added Chris.
''The core functions are messaging, really strong social function in terms of sharing information and updates, and the latest moves into e-commerce. It could be Groupon-type discounts. It is impressive.''
''The big Chinese companies like Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba, tend to start with one core function, but then quickly add in other functions. That is done because it is a really competitive environment among a few big players. There is also a sentiment from users that they are happy to have these functions bundled together.''
WeChat Could Not Have Come Out of the US
''Clearly WeChat is a phenomena that started in China. It was able to bundle these features together into one app, in a way that would not have likely occurred in the US. There is an inclination in the US to have much more streamlined apps that do one thing really well,'' says Chris.
''I do not think that something like WeChat could have started in the US, but I think that the combination of functions there is unique and powerful, something I think can grow well outside of China, and could rival Facebook.''