If you happen to see me speaking to my phone (not talking on the phone), don’t worry that graduate school is driving me crazy. I am just using the new social media app, WeChat. It is not popular in the US now, but I believe that if it keeps its high growth rate, we may have it for Tool Presentation in Social Media class next year.
According to the definition on Wikipedia, WeChat is a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, first released in January 2011, and now is going to international market with 15 languages. It’s something like a better WhatsApp, which provides multimedia communication with text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, photo/video sharing, location sharing, and contact information exchange. It also support social networking by having a platform called “Moment” which is similar with Instagram, and by location-based social plug-ins ("Shake", "Look Around", and "Drift Bottle") to chat with and connect with local and international WeChat users.
This will be a new social media power that cannot be ignored. In October 2013, WeChat have already had more than 600 million users, with more than 400 million users in China and more than 100 million users overseas. The number is amazing, for it is now close to the number of users of Twitter and Weibo (Chinese Twitter). If we define Twitter as a more “open” social media that people can express their idea to the public, WeChat will be a more “closed” social media that focus on information transferring between individuals or organizations. It is not a substitute to Twitter or Weibo, but a new way for individuals, private sectors or government to provide more targeted information and services.
More and more Chinese government agents are using WeChat as a tool to communicate with the public and provide public service, which I will tell more in my next post.