WeChat to add Office Version – LinkedIn watch out!

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Tencent has announced it will release an office version of WeChat.  Ultimately, LinkedIn will feel the heat from the super popular app’s latest extension into the lives of Chinese professionals.

Enterprise WeChat – or Qiye Weixin  – is due to be rolled out in the next few weeks (in beta currently).  In addition to offering a medium for collegues to communicate, WeChat’s office version will offer systems to more conveniently apply for leave and reimbursements – a mobile tool for office management.  Many analysts have be quick to see this as China’s version of Slack, but ultimately this could be Tencent’s play at a much bigger prize – becoming China’s LinkedIn.  Read on to find out why?

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LinkedIn has amassed 10 million users in China – but WeChat is lurking

WeChat is already used a lot in Chinese offices, this now makes it official  

Professionals in China are already using WeChat from everything to confirming meeting times, to sharing files, to connecting with new clients.  But currently private messages, feeds and work communication are all received on the same interface, creating a hectic rush of content, and potentially an embarrassing mistake, if a stray emoticon goes company-wide rather than to the intended friend or friends.  In acknowledgement of the popularity of the WeChat in the office, Tencent says the Enterprise version is designed to help users find a form of “work life balance”.

Looking to capture the same market, Tencent’s local competitor Alibaba launched DingTalk in February last year, reaching a fairly modest initial user group of one million by January this year.   Also local startups Eko and Teambition, have completed successful fund-raising, with a specific focus on how to coordinate workers for projects, on- and off-site.

The big prize for WeChat – creating China’s LinkedIn  

Arguably, this is the start of WeChat’s much wider engagement with the local professional world.

LinkedIn, one of the few international social networks that is not banned in China, has quietly amassed a user group of close to ten million.   Their users are primarily comfortable with English and working in businesses connected to a Western form of ‘networking’.

However a large majority of Chinese workers are engaged with enterprises who work primarily in Chinese and are focussed on the local form of business networking, known as guanxi.   Despite LinkedIn’s initial success, the need for a local network for professionals is emerging, and WeChat provides an easy way for local professionals to come together.

In this context, the office version of WeChat will quickly attract professional users from their existing base of 650 million WeChat-ers, establishing a substantial professional networking platform.   Within WeChat’s office version, local organisations can connect with potential clients, employees, head hunters and suppliers.  Ultimately this will also provides a powerful channel for brands offering professional services – thus, a powerful commercial opportunity for Tencent.

This is big, so we will keep you updated.

For more information on office-based digital in China, be sure to read our profile on local office app Teambition later this week!

About Author

Jerry Clode

Jerry Clode is Head of Digital & Social Insight at Resonance. He leads Resonance SMART, providing leading-edge research, strategy and naming for brands in China using bespoke methodologies. Jerry also produces Resonance's popular China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly publication covering modern marketing methods of the world's top brands.

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