A Social Media Platform: WeChat

Four men showing a WeChat icon by ID:474537 from Rawpixel. Rawpixel License

WeChat has become one of the social communicational media platforms in the digital market of online interaction and connection between customers. It maintains the social relationship core chain and coordinates the strength through the social media platform. Some business cooperation, information consumption, mini-programs’ development, new social models and new technologies all worked through WeChat. While more users access into WeChat, it would advance the wealth, drive the associated employment and protect the relationships between users and users. The transformative effects of WeChat impact the development of social transformation. it also promotes the harmonious improvement of contemporary society.

This essay uses WeChat as a major entity to analyse its transformative effects in economic and social communication terms. The first part of this essay will supply an overview of WeChat operation. The second section will provide the history of WeChat and its development and how it owns transformative effects. The third section will examine the business model on WeChat. Social internet ecology will be examined with a referend of infographic diagram in the fourth part. The fifth section will address how WeChat transformed our using of social media use, online communication, and the innovation effects.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is the mobile social media platform which was launched in 2011 by the Chinese corporation named Chinese Internet company Tencent (Peng, 2017, p.265). As of September 17, 2012, the online users of WeChat have achieved 200 million in the first quarter of 2015; the number of active WeChat users reached 549 million 200 regions and countries; the number of public users on WeChat were 8 million (Xi, Wu, Zhang, Hu & Ni, 2017, p.415). From the searching data at the end of 2012 and the first quarter of 2015, it is obvious to see that the use of WeChat has developed rapidly in the social media industry. WeChat provides diverse social media services for users. It does not simply focus on texting and face-time, but also amalgamates a lot of convenient applications.

Mini Programs is one of the typical services on WeChat. It links with other programs which were used by WeChat users previously and WeChat saves the usage recordings for the conveniences of users. Mini Programs combine several types of online services. Such as games, online wallet and other public services.

Screenshot of Mini Programs

The Third-Party Operator as an innovation method in WeChat brings lots of convenience to users’ daily life. The basic third-party operator includes entertainment activities, booking hotels, bike share, food delivery and so on.

Screenshot of Third-Party Operator

History of WeChat development & transformative effects

With the rapid development of WeChat from 2011, WeChat has become one of the most popular social communication platforms in China or even around the world. The prominent development of WeChat has occurred in April 2012. The founder of the Chinese Internet company Tencent is Ma Huateng. One of the senior officials proposed that the primary product of Chinese Internet company could launch the communicational tool (Harwit, 2017, p. 314). After that, Tencent launched the mobile media application which was called in an initial label ‘Weixin’ (WeChat) (Harwit, 2017, p. 314). Harwit, (2017, p. 314) examined that ‘Wexin’ (WeChat) was retitled as ‘WeChat’ internationally in April 2012. CNNIC, (2014) founded that “84.5 percent of WeChat users used voice chat, 77 percent used moment, and 83.3 percent used texts chat.

The transformative effects of WeChat were published through the digital economy and the new phase of the internet. The digital economy will not stay static forever. Whatever the new or old corporations likely must to transform themselves to improve the flexibility, agility, speed, and significance in the digital economic market (Wargin & Dobiey, 2010). WeChat accomplishes the transformative effects from its continuous innovation in WeChat features and functions. WeChat features of experiencing by users were improved after the first months when WeChat was published into the social media market. WeChat added the diverse types of functions. In July 2011, it added extra “Look Around” which permit the experiences to find their friends or make new friends nearby (Harwit, 2017, p. 315). The “Look Around” feature provides the news and sends their locations to other WeChat users during their public settings of location is allowed. Another specific development of WeChat is the voice function. Voice function in WeChat is too convenient for the illiterate people who are not adept at typing the words on smartphones. In WeChat, the users might use voice messages to talk with others. In the middle time of 2013, the amount of active monthly users of WeChat achieved 200 million (Harwit, 2017, p. 316).

The latest phase of the internet plays the core role in the industry of digital economy. In the other words, the internet is the basic element for the digital world. The internet leads the big data and digital economy to access the modern stage.

Business model on WeChat

As scholars Nair, Paulose, Palacios, and Tafur (2013, p.959) proposed the term of the business model is the fundamental logic of a company by which it creates the value. The business model in one firm captures the wealth and value from its innovation or development. The business model is the concept of finding the new economical method to do business and that will break the existing competitive rules, and it will also guide the development on new business (Zott & Amit, 2008). WeChat built a collaborative digital economic relationship in the social media market. Such as the WeChat public platforms, official accounts, enterprise WeChat accounts, and official subscriptions.

Screenshot of official accounts on WeChat

Screenshots of following official account  (BBCnews & Australia News)

WeChat combines several business models to together. It greatly helped WeChat users and other distinctive social corporations to establish digital communication. WeChat business functions also succeed the online network cooperation.

The users own WeChat due to they are the essential factor to operate it. WeChat set up the digital, intelligent, social communicational environment for WeChat users. WeChat integrates the social services with the digital economy. The based platform for this association is the internet. The strategy of WeChat focused on four concepts. The primary concept is the range of information, the second concept is the shortcut of information publicity, the third one is the popularization of product or applications and final concept is the interactive interaction (Zhang, 2015, p.475).

In WeChat users’ interface, users could chat with their friends, colleagues, family members or even strangers. If the WeChat users follow any official accounts, it is their own ability to choose to receive the notifications from them or abandon their news feed. The social news sharing on WeChat is performed in friend circle, while the users access their WeChat interface, click the ‘Discover’ button, the top logo ‘Moment’ is the major way for users to collect the news feed from friends. Users are allowed to post the maximum nine photos and 10 seconds video to moments.

Screenshot of WeChat ‘Discover’ interface

WeChat is an interactive marketing as well. If the popular media, celebrity, and firms own WeChat account and open the public and sharing functions in ‘Moments’. The news feed of ‘Moments’ has made WeChat be a kind of marketing channel in mobile internet environment (Zhang, 2015, p.476).

The business model of WeChat made the achievement from its non-limitation. The users download WeChat application from an online store. The using method of WeChat is easy to use as well. The users register the new account by relating and identification of their mobile number or E-mail address. There are not too much boundaries for registering and signing in the WeChat accounts. Another core advantage of WeChat is the interactive connection between individual users. By using voice chat, text messages, video & voice call, and news sharing, the WeChat users experience conveniently. The final successful concept of WeChat business model is the online marketing business. The online distance will be reduced on products information and official articles attachment. WeChat influences the digital environment more dynamic and promotes social communicational relationships.

Social Internet Ecology & Infographic Diagram of WeChat

WeChat is a social media platform, it is the most useful communicational tool for people to keep in touch. The internet ecology aspect for WeChat is based on social media and social communication. Lum, (2000, p.1) voiced that “media ecology is a term that has been variously used to highlight the intricate relationship through media and other numerous media level in society. Media ecology is defined as the global hyper-connecting media field that rises more diverse localized media regulation, such as social media surveillance, journalistic culture and the emergent social media (Trevisan, Hokskins, Oates & Mahlouly, 2018, p. 112).

WeChat as the cooperating agent in the internet environment, and it even monopolizes the social internet market in the global world.

Messaging APPs’ monthly worldwide users by Motley Fool, TechCrunch, China Channel, Tech in Asia, Statista at HubSpot Research

From the above bar chart, it is obvious to observe that WeChat is the top three worldwide messaging application. The number of WeChat monthly users is 889 million. The top app is WhatsApp and following by Messenger. Tencent QQ ranked ninth communicational app which just behind Twitter in 2012 and ranked the second one in China (Ma & Au, 2014, p. 219). Tencent QQ is the biggest competitor for WeChat. Tencent QQ is another communicational tool for most of Chinese. The function of it is quite like WeChat. Tencent QQ involves the text message, voice & video call and the news feed from friends as well. However, Tencent QQ does not own the complete official subscriptions and most official accounts on it is not as full as WeChat. Sino Weibo is one of the typical social media platforms in China also plays the role as the competitor for WeChat. Weibo is simply using for online news sharing. Users post the live photos, images or videos to obtain the likes and comments.

WeChat ecosystem

screenshot of WeChat ecosystem

Innovation of WeChat and its effects

WeChat has improved the way that people relate socially. It breaks the boundaries of traditional communication. WeChat provides the new media approach for users to contact friends, colleagues, and family. WeChat transformed our using of the internet by achieved the innovation on social media. Innovation is the common term of challenging the present order and a recombination of previous ideas (Larsen, 1993, p.156).

Innovation in WeChat entity is performed in two concepts. The primary concept is digital innovation. WeChat achieved online communication so that it is recognized as the communicational tool for people. The second specific concept of WeChat innovation is digital intelligence. Firstly, the news sharing between users and users. Secondly, lots of small programs such as games and wallet. Users could link with their bank accounts’ cards to spend or make savings on WeChat. Other functions of WeChat are medical treatment, transportations, friend circle of news sharing, book restaurants or hotels, informal online learning from official accounts and so on. Online WeChat market also supplies product contact to users. Thirdly, WeChat reached the traffic consumption as well. WeChat collaborates with telecom operators to success win-win benefits. It promoted the principal reduction fees, stabilized the values and WeChat helped transform the industry’s traffic. In terms of WeChat scale, it gradually improved the social media information, literature, entertainment, and other developed contents. The transformation of WeChat increased the demand for traffic usage by active users and motivated the prospective of traffic consumption.

a person on phone by Adrianna Calvo at Pexels. Pexels License

WeChat transformed the social relations by users, equipment, products, and services. The high technology, especially the internet transformed the creativity to improve social communications, stimulate the increase of internet culture and prevent internet security risk. WeChat transformed the lifestyles as well. The specific feature is payment habit, WeChat payment inspires users to experience offline consumption by connecting bank cards. WeChat drove the development of the technological strategy to stimulate the innovation implements.

A final note

In general, WeChat is a communicational entity in the online business model. It accomplishes the innovative way for people to connect with friends, officials, and society. WeChat refuses the traditional communication and continues to innovate. By improving the functions and small programs to achieve the highest level of internet platform. WeChat promoted the interpersonal relations, stimulated the traffic consumption and performed the creativity.



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