WeChat’s latest 2017 report on user data was revealed this yesterday. The usual tremor is created across the blogosphere as analysts, marketers, brands & businesses pour over the data.

The WeChat Data Report 2017 shows 902 million average daily logged in users in September 2017, up 17% year-over-year and 38 billion messages sent on WeChat everyday.

WeChat records 3.5 million monthly active Official Accounts in Q3 2017, up 14% YoY; and, 797 million monthly active users of WeChat Official Accounts, up 19% YoY.

Its important to note initially that WeChat produce the data, this is no independent or third party audit of the numbers. Having said this WeChat reports tend to be the most in-depth and qualified in China, purely because of the pivotal role & status of the platform with billions of eyes watching (quite literally).

So let’s dive in & dig out the key stats & trends derived from the report.

 

WeChat Tops 900 Million Users

Always take Chinese platform user stats with a pinch of salt (historically over-inflated) but regardless.. WeChat’s claim of 902 million daily users (based on data from September 2017) is undeniably important. WeChat’s user acquisition has been tremendous over the years as new features led to increased uptake.

The goal of the platform is well known.. to be the ‘One Stop Shop’ for Chinese citizens, it’s far more than just a social network, rather an integrated service platform that caters to the localised lifestyle of Chinese netizens. Consider the vast array of services ranging from e-commerce, messaging, photo sharing, ticket booking, geo location, mapping, DIDI taxi services, dating, finance, news (and this is the tip of the iceberg..)

What’s arguably more interesting is the number of senior users on the platform, 50 million MAU’s between 55-70 years old. This provides evidence of the highly socialised and increasingly digitally connected networks of elderly citizens (most often seen in China’s intriguing parks). WeChat has become more associated with slightly older demographic (22+) whilst Weibo & QQ still dominate in terms of younger audience engagement.

 

WeChat Pay Developments

WeChat pay is a pivotal part of the digital payment infrastructure in China, up 23% yoy social payment transactions are booming. WeChat have even started offering small financial incentives for users to pay with this method including small ‘cash back’ top-ups in the wallet as rewards for usage.

WeChat pay currently connects to a users bank but with the growth of WeBank there are interesting questions to be asked around the role of WeChat in facilitating customer service, could they in theory cut out traditional banking to some degree in China & control not only digital payment but also offer a digital banking service?

Offline commercial transactions has certainly skyrocketed with a 280% growth yoy.

 

 

Messaging Behaviour Shifts

The most telling stat for me is not the increase in daily users (reached 902 million in Sept 2017) but the increase in engagement & frequency of use.

Messages sent are up 25% to 38 billion daily messages. The Voice message function in particular sees growth of 26%, audio messaging allows users to relay a lot more info vs typing Pinyin text. (Particularly in private & small groups).

WeChat calls are the biggest winner at 106% yoy growth with improving WIFI infrastructure & 4g facilitating better & more convenient digital calling services.

 

 

The Growth of Video/Voice Calls

This is a key area of growth, WeChat was first & foremost an IM APP but developed call functionality. The most important take home, this is how users are speaking to each other, you need to adapt, Skype/zoom won’t cut it, local users will use Wechat calling services that they trust, particularly when  so much of their daily lives revolve around the platform.

Of course this hasn’t wholly replaced the traditional phone call but it’s a clear development that WeChat have a monopoly over. Remember you can add users via their Phone numbers on WC, so why not add them and then call for free in a WIFI hotspot/ via a cheaper 4G mobile plan.

19 monthly calls per user represents a 135% increase.

Video Becomes more important in WeChat Moments

This trend has been developing for sometime with advertisers leading the charge on video moments ads. In-line with this users are also sharing more video based content, that’s 68 million video based posts per day (22% yoy increase).

Video is the future for quality Chinese content as WeChat launch pre-video scrolling ads, an indication that demand is significant enough to monetise for ad space in terms of video views etc.

Watch this space.

WeRun Explodes in China

I’m a huge advocate of WeRun, largely because it fires up my competitive side and encourages me to climb mountains when pitted against my friends. WeRun is essentially a basic step counter that lists all your contacts step count as the day progresses, users can like the step count with the winner each day (in their own network) setting the cover photo.

A simple feature but one which grew to 115 million active WeRun Users Per Day, this represents a 117% increase yoy. It’s a reflection of the growing ‘keep fit’ movement across the nation.

 

 

Insights into International Travel 

Southeast Asia topped the list for travel on National Day followed by East Asia, China, US & Europe. This represented a yoy increase of 62%. WeChat tracked travel locations by the number of Mainland users logging into WeChat from abroad on this day.

WeChat has become an important platform to build reputation & branding for travel companies as savy travellers become more discerning and less reliant on group agency trips (particularly outside of the domestic market).

 

 

The Growth of Mini Programmes 

Mini-programmes now cover 20+ industries in terms of relevant programmes being implemented by companies (sector to sector). Sub industry categories have peaked at 200+ with the primary sectors being Transportation, E-Commerce, Utilities, Lifestyle & Tech.

Mini Programmes are essentially apps run within the WeChat eco-system, the ease of use, user functionality, the number of active users & promotion on the home page has facilitated their rise.

With WeChat’s goal of becoming a ‘one stop shop’ for consumer daily needs it is certainly logical to create their own App Store within this eco-system in the form of Mini Programmes.

 

 

 

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