Life after Facebook.

If we’ve learnt anything from social media history (albeit short), it’s that many social platforms have their time in the sun before making way for newer, trendier ways for people to connect.

Is Facebook dominant enough to resist the same fate? Or could WeChat – a social media App most popular in China (400 million active users) with aspirations for global growth – be the next social empire?

What makes WeChat special?

WeChat allows social to inhabit the center of more online interactions than ever before. It’s the first App to combine features like text, voice/video calling, photo sharing (plus filters), voice messages (walkie talkie), live group chat and geolocation ‘friend finder’ into one App. Chinese users also use it for gaming, mobile payments and to browse ecommerce stores.

How are marketers using WeChat?

Brands like Nike, Adidas, Coach and even Harrods have experimented with WeChat in China. The App allows a user to engage with brands in the same way they might interact with a friend e.g. through the text platform. See how Burberry has also delivered personalised content to users in China.

The geolocation ‘friend finder’ feature “Shake” is quite interesting. While other social networks focus on connecting you with people you already know offline,  “Shake” enables users to search for new friends via the App based on their geographic proximity, by simply shaking their phone. It enables strangers to meet online – and these friendships can more easily extend into offline friendships because of the close geographical proximity. Not surprisingly, it’s being used as an online dating tool in China.

WeChat’s ambition to grow outside of China is clear.

The App recently launched a global campaign leveraging international sports superstars LeBron James and Lionel Messi as ambassadors. One question remains: will Facebook adapt and incorporate similar functionality to maintain its dominant position? Or will WeChat win over the West before Facebook can react?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Author: Virginia Bashford, Senior Account Manager