WeChat’s Innovation Frenzy

Tencent, the giant behind WeChat, continues its ‘innovation frenzy’ by launching feature after feature.

True to the Chinese innovation spirit, lots of trial and error is happening at the Tencent drawing board. Often without big announcements, new features are launched to see whether they catch on.

Here are a few (sneaky) WeChat updates and announcements:

1.     E-Commerce integration

  • You can now purchase products straight through the search function.
  • Type in your desired product, select the one you fancy in the feed and you’ll automatically be directed to the mini-program.
  • It will be interesting to see how brands use this new listing and amalgamation of stores.
  • Chinese guide with pictures here

2.     Haowuquan 好物圈 (Goodies circle)

  • Currently hidden in the search function: type in “好物圈” and manually add it to your search section.
  • Similar to Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book / RED) you can like and collect products and share preferences with friends.
  • We believe this Social E-commerce function is to separate private life (WeChat’s original purpose) from consumption.
  • A predecessor version, ‘My Shopping List’, was launched last September.
  • Guide in Chinese here (hit the translate button)

3.     “Top Stories” (看一看)

  • This feature is similar to the ‘moments’ feed, but specifically for articles.
  • Others can see which articles you liked and what the top stories are.
  • We think it’s another feature to take separate content consumption from private life.

4.      New moments’ regulations

  • WeChat now prohibits the use of interest temptation to induce users to share and disseminate external content or WeChat public account articles.
  • Prohibited incentives include: cash rewards, physical objects prizes, virtual prizes (red envelopes, coupons, vouchers, points, phone bills, traffic, information, etc.), collecting praise, grouping, sharing can increase the chance of lottery, the probability of winning, induce users to share, click, point with points or money benefits like WeChat public account articles, etc.
  • Education platforms have already been prohibited from offering rewards on WeChat.
  • If this is enforced, social commerce platforms will take a hit.

5.     Boosting WeChat Work (企业微信)

  • WeChat Work, a separate application to WeChat, is like a Microsoft 365 for WeChat: you can send files, organise conference calls, and so on.
  • It was launched previously in a bid to drive work traffic away from WeChat, as too many people use WeChat for work.
  • According to Technode, Tencent recently announced that they have partnered with 17,000 companies to enhance the WeChat Work ecosystem.
  • We say: Great development. Watch this space.

6.     New voice trial for drivers

  • WeChat announced that a feature will be launched which reads messages to drivers and drivers can reply using their voice.
  • This can drastically improve road safety on China’s already busy roads.