Over the past 8 years, WeChat has grown enormously to boast more than 1 billion users. On January 9, 2019, WeChat founder, Allen Zhang, gave a 4-hour presentation at the 2019 WeChat Open Course. He discussed WeChat’s past, present, and future, stating that his most critical priority is to make an effective product. Looking ahead, this means that:
- WeChat will keep pace with the times as a strong business, communication, and social tool.
- WeChat will help creators provide value.
In terms of what’s in store for WeChat marketing, Allen and his team advise that marketers can take cues on how best to reach their audience and where to put their efforts based on WeChat’s developmental direction—essentially, follow WeChat updates and new functions and get ready to embrace change and be progressive with your WeChat marketing strategies.
Today, based on Allen’s presentation and drawing insights from WeChat’s developmental direction, we’ll discuss the future of WeChat marketing, including mini programs, video content, B2B marketing, and social reading.
Mini Programs will become key life and business interfaces
Currently, WeChat Mini Programs cover more than 200 industries. Over the last year, Mini Programs have served more than 100 billion users in government and business. Annual transactions have grown by more than 600%, generating more than CNY ¥500 billion in business value. As of the end of December 2018, the daily usage frequency of smaller- scale programs increased by 54% compared with last year, and the retention of daily users for larger-scale programs increased from 34% to 54%.
What’s next for WeChat Mini Programs?
- Mini Programs will meet the needs of different users with diverse interests.
Mini Programs will go beyond business and government, embracing more diverse social interests, such as, dance groups, parent groups, community stores, etc.
- WeChat will release a satisfaction survey system and Mini Program quality index.
Mini Programs that meet the quality index and pass the satisfaction survey will benefit from increased exposure and grow faster. WeChat will also consider new discovery methods, new search methods, and new ‘nearby’ identifiers.
- WeChat will provide tools to make it easier for developers to create effective Mini Programs.
WeChat will provide services, such as plug-ins, cloud development, Mini Program assistance, logistics assistance, etc, to help creators develop the best possible Mini Programs.
- WeChat will also provide new commercial support.
This commercial support will cover features such as paid videos, personal Mini Program monetization, interstitial ads, etc.
- WeChat will help developers create value.
WeChat will build a knowledge-sharing platform and a B2B service platform that provides integrated services.
Short videos will allow users to share with particular audience groups
Recently, WeChat launched “Time Capsule,” a short video sharing function. Will Time Capsule replace Moments, texts, and pictures? No, explains Allen.
WeChat has become a high-pressure social app in China. Because a WeChat user’s follower base is a mix of friends, colleagues, community leaders, business partners, and relatives, people have become more reserved in what they will actually share to their public profile for everyone to see.
Therefore, WeChat created Time Capsule as a more private, independent platform. Similar to Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram Stories, users can share short videos that only last 24 hours.
We predict that users will also be able to set privacy restrictions like 1) who can view the video, such as only friends, colleagues, particular groups, etc.; 2) where the video will appear, such as profile, group chat, Mini Programs, etc.; and 3) on which platform the video will appear, such as Weishi, Time Capsule, WeChat Work, etc.
In terms of WeChat marketing, brands can create short videos to promote their products and build brand awareness. They can then share these videos on their Time Capsule and in a group chat with their customers.
WeChat Work will be an integrated B2B service platform
WeChat will strengthen developer relationships and help brands create value. Allen Zhang said that WeChat Work will help enterprises open source the sales process, while reducing internal operating costs and improving efficiency—WeChat Work is becoming a connection point for enterprises with a human touch.
What’s next for WeChat Work?
- WeChat will build a community knowledge-sharing platform.
- WeChat will integrate Mini Programs and other third-party applications with WeChat Work.
WeChat releases new functions to combine social with reading.
WeChat optimized its Top Stories with new Wow and Top News functions. Based on friends’ recommendations and the WeChat algorithm, users are now shown and can read high-quality content targeted to their interests. Previously, most users read untargeted articles from Moments or subscription accounts. While the new functions have yet to change users’ reading behaviors, Allen Zhang believes in the change. His goal is to combine social with reading, improving content quality for WeChat users.
We predict that the WeChat interface and UX might start to resemble more of an Instagram style, where users just slide the screen to view WeChat Moments, Top Stories, etc.