WeChat, the most popular Chinese IM app overseas

Pony Ma, Tencent's founder.

Ma Huateng, Pony Ma, is a Chinese entrepreneur founding Tencent Inc., one of the largest internet companies in China.

WeChat (also known as Weixin) is a mobile text and voice messaging app developed by Tencent. Launched in 2011, WeChat now is one of the largest standalone instant messaging apps by MAU (monthly active users).

Company Profile

Name: WeChat
Website: www.wechat.com
Founder of Tencent: Pony Ma (WeChat lead developer: Zhang Xiaolong)
Core Business: instant messaging

Basic Information

  • In April 2012, Weixin re-branded itself as WeChat for the international market.
  • As of July 2014, 69% of WeChat revenue was from mobile ad sales.
  • From 2014, business accounts were required to have 100,000 followers in order to advertise on WeChat.
  • In 2015, the average daily time Chinese users spent on WeChat was over 40 minutes.
  • As of August 2015, WeChat had over a billion accounts, 600 million active users including 70 million outside of China.
  • The first major company to implement ecommerce on WeChat is McDonald’s.


Instant Messaging:

Wechat provides a number of ways to communicate, including text/voice messages, walkie talkies, and stickers. Users can send pictures and videos, online money, or current GPS locations. When users share their GPS locations to the brands’ official WeChat accounts, it tells the user where the brand’s nearest shops are.

Sharing locations to brands helps users know the closet stores.

WeChat allows users to share their locations to find the brand’s nearest shops.

Public Accounts:

WeChat allows brands to register as a public account (subscription & service account). This service enables brands to push feeds to their subscribers. By the end of 2014, the number of Wechat public accounts had reached 8 million.

WeChat public accounts comparison

WeChat public accounts comparison: subscription, enterprise, and service.


Wechat lets users transfer money into and out of its “Wallet” through any UnionPay bank card. Users can purchase group discounts for activities (similar to Groupon), pay for taxis, transfer money to friends, pay their utility bills, and recharge their mobile SIM card.

wechat wallet

WeChat Wallet allows users to transfer money to their contacts, pay taxis and utilities, and book railway tickets, etc.


Moments offers users a way to share their newsfeed to their contacts. It allows them to like and leave comments under shared news.

WeChat Moments to see contacts' newsfeed.

WeChat Moments allows users to share their newsfeed to their contacts.

Key Opinion Leaders

Key opinion leaders, or KOLs, play an important role in Chinese digital marketing strategies. Ranging from fashion bloggers to travel photographers, KOLs generally have a large and loyal audience due to their high-quality content and unique perspectives in a given category. With this combination of influence and reach, KOLs have become a favored marketing tool to amplify social awareness.

TongDaoDaShu, a popular WeChat influencer.

TongDaoDaShu, a popular WeChat KOL focusing on delivering star sign news.

Potential Threats

The world’s most popular messaging apps are mirror images of each other. Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook Messenger and Whatspp will now handle customer support queries similar to WeChat and LINE.

LINE, the fastest growing IM.

LINE is the fastest growing messaging app.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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