WeChat, known as Weixin of its Chinese app name and owned by Tencent, is the top mobile app by total MAUs and engagement in China, with over 1.2 billion monthly active users. Check out CIW Dossier for detailed WeChat statistics.

WeChat Ecosystem

Key components: Official Accounts, WeChat Pay, Mini Programs

WeChat Official Accounts

Companies can use WeChat Official Accounts to attract followers on WeChat and reach target audiences.

WeChat Official Account refers to both Subscription Account, Service Account or any other accounts that WeChat offer under the WeChat Official Account Admin Platform Service. This Service is a cooperative promotion business for individual or enterprise users launched by WeChat.

The User, after registering for a WeChat account, may conduct brand promotion activities through the WeChat Official Account Admin Platform. A WeChat user shall, after subscribing to a WeChat Official Account, become a subscriber of that WeChat Official Account.

The WeChat Official Account may release information to and interact with its subscribers through the WeChat Official Account Admin Platform.

WeChat Pay

One of the top two payment apps in China, in addition to Alibaba’s affiliated Alipay, provides instant payment solutions in China.

Bank cards from mainland China can be linked to WeChat Pay by verifying the registered mobile number. Only credit cards may be linked to users outside mainland China.

WeChat Mini-Program

WeChat Mini-Program are light programs that do not require download or installation; users can access the apps anytime and anywhere. Users can scan a QR code to launch and use the application although search capability is added but limited. Users can simply leave the application after use without the need to uninstall. More here →

WeChat Features

It’s China’s super app covering instant messaging, social networking (in WeChat Moments), e-commerce, mobile payment (WeChat Pay), content network (Official Accounts), gaming, digital banking, etc.

WeChat interface features a prominent section “Top Stories“, where users can access trending articles and videos from the Tencent content network.

How to Set Up and Register WeChat

WeChat can be downloaded free here. After downloading and installing WeChat, open the app and select “Sign Up”, enter your mobile number as instructed. 4. An SMS verification code will be sent to your phone (for free!); enter the code into WeChat to verify your mobile number to register successfully.

Creating a WeChat account requires a mobile phone number. WeChat no longer accepts registration via email address, QQ number, or Facebook account.

An SMS verification code will be sent to your phone; enter the code into WeChat to verify your mobile number to register successfully. Registering a WeChat account requires a mobile phone number.

After registration, you can set a WeChat ID as your unique identifier, bind an email address to WeChat for your account security, and set a password to avoid logging in via SMS verification every time.

wechat-add-friends

You can then add friends from your phone’s address book, manually entering phone numbers or WeChat IDs, searching for people nearby and Message in a Bottle, or use Friend Radar.

Main Features

Drift Bottle was totally live up to its name. It could push information to people randomly. This is removed.

Location Signature just like the street signs and people could hardly ignore them. You can just put the advertising information in your signature and users will see it when they use the funny function called “Shake”.

QR code is quite efficient to start a relationship with consumers. Users could just scan the QR code via their phone and they will be a member.

Open Platform enables the synchronization between WeChat and websites. Contents on WeChat could be shared from the website or contents on website could be shared from WeChat.

Voice Message is quite similar with PodCast and is being developed into customer service hotline.  Users may be quite thrilled if they receive an interesting voice message.

Official Account Platform is similar with authentic account on Weibo or brand webpage or minisite. 

WeChat Marketing

Content marketing is quite common with targeted quality articles distributed on WeChat utilizing both owned and third-party (advertorial) WeChat Official Accounts. Companies also develop HTML5 based landing pages for certain campaigns to drive up the engagement.

Advertising opportunities include display ads on WeChat Official Accounts and WeChat Moments. Companies can also utilize “WeChat Index” to monitor the brand trends on WeChat.

Marketing and advertising opportunities on WeChat Moments

Insights on WeChat Official Accounts

Case Studies on WeChat Marketing

China social media users compared: Weibo vs WeChat vs Momo

Marketing and advertising opportunities on WeChat Moments

Insights on WeChat Official Accounts

Case Studies on WeChat Marketing

China social media users compared: Weibo vs WeChat vs Momo

WeChat Mini Programs

WeChat is not the only platform supporting the instant-launch light applications, which is widely known as mini-programs.

Leading Chinese internet companies are building their own ecosystem with Tencent’s WeChat, Alibaba’s Alipay, and Baidu’s smart program in the leading positions.

CIW Subscribers can check this page for the latest data.

Another league of mini-programs worth mentioning is QuickApp, an application ecosystem launched by the nine major mobile phone vendors in China including Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo, ZTE, Gionee, Lenovo, Meizu, Nubia.

WeChat vs. Alipay vs. Baidu

WeChat Mini-Programs hit 470 million monthly users last year. Alipay’s mini-program saw MAU of 500 million as of April 2019. And, Baidu Smart Mini Program monthly active users reached 270 million in June 2019, up 49% QoQ.

For some companies, mini-program platforms have become the primary traffic driver, such as LY.com WeChat mini-program, Taobao Movies’s Alipay mini-program, and Baidu Wenku’s smart program.

Top WeChat Mini-Programs by MAU Groups

Counting all WeChat mini-programs with over 1 million MAU, games, utility, and living are the top 3 categories in Jun 2019.


Counting all WeChat mini-programs with over 5 million MAU, living, games, and shopping are the top three.

Check out latest Mini Program platform comparison →

WeChat History

WeChat Call UITencent launched WeChat in January 2011 as a free instant messaging mobile app, led and developed by Zhang Xiaolong in Guangzhou. It also has a web version.

WeChat Supported OS: iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android, Windows Phone, Nokia S40 Symbian, BlackBerry OS 5.0, BlackBerry OS 6.0 and above, Blackberry 10, Windows, MacOS, Web Browsers

WeChat app now offers users mobile contacts, free video and voice calls, games, stickers and text messages, group chats, social networking (under WeChat Moments), and mobile payment (WeChat Pay).

Users could also discover new friends through location-based services (LBS) or WeChat Shake (discontinued in 2019).

WeChat also has a VoIP feature called WeChat Out to help users call mobiles and landlines around the globe at low rates. It is only available for users outside Mainland China.

WeChat founder Allen Zhang

WeChat founder Allen Zhang (Zhang Xiaolong)

Read the full WeChat story here, told by its founder Zhang Xiaolong.

WeChat Trends & Insights

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