Best Messaging App WeChat: Why it’s Cool
The best messaging app is hard to define, so instead of trying to write about the pros and cons of each messaging app, I will focus on the one that you probably know the least about, but which is actually the most powerful and interesting. First I give a quick intro on how I use messaging apps and some context.
The messaging apps I use are Facebook Messenger, Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Line, WeChat, Slack, KIK, Telegram and Snapchat.
I use different messaging apps for friends, family and business. I use each app for different groups, some people fit into multiple groups. When I get a notification from Line I already know which group it is from and it’s level of importance. This also helps if you want to be invisible on other platforms and don’t want to reply immediately.
Different countries have their preference of messaging apps with Line from Japan and WeChat from China being far more prevalent in East Asia and not even heard of in the States. I find that Line and WeChat are actually better than Whatsapp and Viber as they offer more options.
The Best Messaging App is WeChat
China’s favourite with 650 million monthly active users, a social media app and a platform like an app store combined.
This is in part due to Facebook and Twitter being blocked in China along with all the other messaging services. However, in other countries, VoIP services (Skype, Whatsapp, Viber) are also blocked. This is done in many countries because the Governments don’t want to lose the money they get from mobile services.
The way around this is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which gives you secure access and masks your IP helping you avoid restrictions. So if you go to China or do business with China this is the first app you should get.
The second app is a VPN Review – Travel Essential
Video and Voice Calls Alternative
WeChat does great video calls like Skype.
Whatsapp doesn’t even have video chat. The quality of the video is better on WeChat than on Line and Viber.
WeChat also offers the same service like Skype Out where you can call phone numbers.
The WeChat Platform
As a platform, it offers over 10 million apps you can ‘enable’ on WeChat. Digest that for a moment, an app that has over 10 million apps designed to run on it.
Once you setup the WeChat payment wallet with card or bank details you can pay on any app in the ecosystem. Payments can even be used outside of mobile at brick and mortar stores with QR codes and barcodes. People have been paying for their Starbucks with WeChat for years in China.
Apps on WeChat
There are the popular apps that we in the West are familiar with, but there are also many others. These include apps to:
Book a Doctor’s appointment
Pay utility bills
Search for a book in the local library
Check in for a flight
Donate to charity
Food ordering services
Buy movie tickets
Send payments to friends
The list is endless, and as if that wasn’t enough WeChat is also a Social Network
A Simple Social Network
Called moments which is a simple network and incorporates the best of both Facebook and Twitter.
WeChat has a better privacy system than Facebook and twitter that enables comments to only be visible to the two parties and not visible to friends or the public. So if I post a picture and you comment on it, only I and any mutual friends see the comment, not all of my friends plus all of your friends. We can even restrict this to just you and me.
This feature is nice in a world where everything we write online remains on the internet indefinitely. It gives more freedom to speak your mind and build a closer relationship with me as you comment on my picture and it is our own private world. If another friend also comments on the picture that you don’t know, you wouldn’t see or get notified of his comment.
To top it off, it also enables you to meet new people nearby by turning on location sharing.
Unlike Tinder it doesn’t have to be about dating, it can be for finding new friends, or business. The important thing is you can stop sharing your location whenever you like.
Brands Interacting like Friends
Now think about a celebrity brand or a business, and see how attractive it is to get on WeChat and offer an app or create an official account so you can easily interact with your customers. Send them coupons if they are nearby, send them info the same as if they followed you on Twitter or Facebook, and do much more as well. It is easy to segregate your followers by demographics like age, sex or location and then send these segments custom messages.
This ability to interact with customers is a marketers dream, one click payments are a reality and easily insert QR codes in marketing material as all users have a built-in QR code scanner.
For a Chinese brand, it is more important to have a WeChat account than a web page, that is how drastically the game has changed. Instead of a search engine like Google being such a dominant player, the game could change completely if brands were operating more within ecosystems like Facebook.
Chinese startups are making new apps they release on the WeChat platform first as a way to beta test before launching in a traditional app store.
A business using WeChat well is a kinder garden that has an official account – which can be followed by parents. Once parents are added and white-listed they can see info the school publishes specifically for them like when their child is picked up they can be sent a picture of the person collecting their child.
This is easy for the kinder garden to set up, they don’t have to create an app. It is like a Slack channel with the benefit that payments can be sent and other apps can be used in the portal.
The Future of Messaging Apps
In summary, WeChat is an impressive platform that provides many opportunities. Although mostly used in China and the apps are in Chinese it is still the best messaging app. Because of all this functionality, WeChat users are opening the app more than we use any app.
Even if we don’t get something similar in the US/Europe, it shows how China’s Tencent (the owner of WeChat) is thinking differently. Tencent has a level of interaction and data Apple and Facebook dream about getting from their users. Platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are already heading in this direction and others will follow.