10 years of WeChat history

Since 2011, WeChat has revolutionized the way Chinese people communicate and use digital devices. We want to celebrate a decade of WeChat influence with this EGGsist insight, which dives into the growth strategy that led to its milestones and aspirational achievements

Let’s check how this APP grew to be one of the most popular social media globally, scaling from 0 to more than over 1 billion users in just ten years!


And the story goes…

It all started with an email Allen Zhang 张小龙 sent to Tencent CEO, Pony Ma 马化腾… 

January 2011

A Social-tech Goliath is born!

On January 21st, 2011, Weixin 微信 was officially launched in China as a simple messaging and photo-sharing app. Can you guess how many engineers were involved in this “bold” project? Just seven! A few months after launch, it became an instant hit, and in the short span of 433 days, it reached over 100 million registered users!

A couple of months later, some features debuted online like optimized video clips sharing and the famous and highly discussed “shake” a.k.a. “find nearby”.

Just shake your smartphone and discover new friends around you can chat with!

April 2012: 

A new feature at the center stage: Moments 

From that “moment”, users could share their experiences, memories through messages, photos, and videos.

Tencent WeChat goes global

It is the exact time when the team realizes the importance of expanding their business internationally. By changing the name from Weixin to WeChat, this intention was quite explicit: now the APP is available in English, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Portuguese languages. 

July 2012:

Tencent opens up WeChat to brands accounts

In the same year, Wechat Official Account was launched. It was also a unique occasion for international businesses to leap on board and interact with a massive audience.

How could brands encourage new potential consumers to follow them? By scanning QR codes, of course. 

 After only 6 months, a 200 million registered user target was achieved. Its communication capabilities were enhanced by video and audio call features.

WeChat moments and Official Account

August 2013:

Welcome to a new era of digital payment!

In August, WeChat Pay finally debuted online: the mobile payments feature was launched, which turn WeChat into one of the biggest cashless payment apps!

At the end of the year, WeChat promoted the app worldwide with a big campaign with TV ads and out-of-home billboards, involving star system celebrities such as the famous football player Messi.

January 2014:

Digital Hongbaos gamble 

Alongside payment features, WeChat developers thought of a simple, yet effective way to rethink one of the oldest Chinese traditions: digital hongbao (red envelopes) straight on your smartphone! The first try skyrocketed: more than half a billion RMB worth of red envelopes were sent out.

May 2014:

Another big move for the Chinese tech giant: WeChat store

Another feature is about to rollout: it’s time for WeChat stores to shine. From May 2014, any brand account can open its built-in shop.

January 2015 

A new promotional form to compete for users attention

That year started with the launch of ads inside the Moments section: brands can now build promotions!

In March, WeChat reached the half a billion users milestone.

Fun fact: over 400 million people are using Mini programs daily by 2020. What is even more exceptional is that the annual transaction via mini-programs exceed US$ 240 billion 


Overseas, let’s scan and pay!

WeChat pay goes global: now Chinese tourists can scan QR codes and pay just as in their home country when traveling overseas.

January 2017

Did you say mini-programs?

Mini programs launched, this sophisticated and innovative feature transformed WeChat as OS per se. In just a few months, thousands of brands started building their mini-program. 2017 is also important because WeChat launched its search engine.


Can’t get enough of WeChat!

WeChat continues to improve, establish records and get over one billion monthly active users on the platform.

WeChat history part 1 from 2015 til 2021


The Super APP empowered moments with its new Instagram-like stories feature.

January 2020

Let’s make…a video with WeChat Channel

WeChat broadens its horizons with a new feature labeled “Channel”, where users can explore media accounts, videos from brands, stars, and celebrities.

Last but not least: WeChat made its search engine more powerful than ever by the acquisition of Sougou, and reached over 1.17 billion.

January 2021:

Mission accomplished

The Super APP gets more social vibes with the new Live Streaming feature. Will it be the start of a new era for the “chatting” app?

Here’s the last fun fact: since 2011, WeChat splash screen, called Blue Marble, is a photo of the planet earth shot during the Seventies, showing the African continent. This has never changed until 2017. Now, the Chinese version of the app shows the eastern Asian continent picture, taken by a Chinese satellite.

Nowadays, WeChat plays a fundamental role in Chinese people’s daily life.

  • Advertising
  • Store
  • Payments
  • Cross-border eCommerce
  • Search
  • KOL marketing
  • Customer service
  • Moments

Those are just some of the main functionalities offered by the app.

So, what’s your take? 

You can’t miss the unique opportunity to connect with over one billion potential customers, build more interactive and personalized shopping experiences, that is eventually what Chinese consumers are eager for!

With EGGsist, you can start turning your brand into a WeChat superstar by building your unique identity on the app and get in touch with thousands of potential customers.

Plus, you can push content directly through programmatic ads on the sections built-in WeChat, or sell within your store. Possibilities are endless!

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10 years of WeChat history

What’s a WeChat store?

According to China Internet Watch, online retail sales in Q3 2020 exceeded 8 trillion yuan, a year over year growth of 9.7%.

But that’s not the end of good news: since January 2020, over 6 trillion yuan worth of goods were sold online, accounting for over 24% growth YoY. The rapid advancement of digital reality has ushered in a new age of social selling, strongly combined with creative ways of interactions: one example, the cross border eCommerce

Today we’re talking about WeChat eCommerce, a successful strategy that leverages the latest technologies and allows brands to achieve three keys elements: conversion, engagement, and value. In fact, it is possible to create a unique shopping experience with a customer-focused approach, position your brand, and tell to Chinese consumers your own story. More interestingly, allowing them to discover your products and purchase them, has never been so easy!

Let’s create then, new opportunities together: our WeChat store solution includes UI Design, contents plan, and marketing adv activities. Contact us.

And don’t forget our comprehensive guide #beyondCNY to all the most profitable marketing opportunities for your business.

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What’s a WeChat store?

Why you should keep an eye on the Chinese Golden week?

Today people are celebrating one of the most important festivals in China, better known as 中秋节 (zhongqiu jie), or also called “Moon Festival”.  This year will be combined with the National Day, which is to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949! Starting from the 1st of October start an important week for the tourism industry the Golden Week.

If you want to know more about each Chinese festival don’t miss our #beyondCNY Chinese festivities report.

Why you should take into consideration these cultural celebrations? Discover it with our infographic down here:

Sources: Baidu, Globaltimes

Next step: identify the right channels!

Nowadays, Cross-Border and live streaming strategies become China’s most profitable form of communication able to support your brand in building a digital presence and drive revenue in the Chinese market.

EGGsist provides tailor-made solutions through the most popular social media, social commerce & fintech platforms such as Alipay, Secoo, WeChat, and many more to discover…

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Why you should keep an eye on the Chinese Golden week?

There’s more beyond Chinese New Year – Get our Business FREE guide

The Chinese market is an unmissable opportunity for brands aiming to expand: the explosion of the upper-middle-class in China will be the driving force for luxury brands, leading to an almost doubling of luxury spending by 2025, when Chinese consumers are expected to account for 40% of the global luxury market…

#BeyondCNY is a comprehensive report aiming to give you a deeper overview of Chinese Festivals, digital & social trends, and be on the right path of the Chinese consumers digital journey.

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There’s more beyond Chinese New Year – Get our Business FREE guide

A shopping lover festival for lovers, 520 Valentine’s day

In Chinese, numbers can communicate an entire message!
For example, on the 20th of May in China, lovers celebrate their day. Why?

“520” is another Valentine Day in China because it sounds phonetically very close to “I Love You”, 我爱你 (Wǒ ài nǐ). But when you pronounce it, make sure to say each word individually, because saying 5 五 “wǔ” and 20 二十 “èr shí” doesn’t work the same! Also, be careful not to mix it up with 525 “五二五“(èrbǎiwǔ) because instead of expressing your love, it means idiot, stupid.

If you like the idea of communicating in numbers, you can also take note of another expression 5201314! Why? If 520 means love, 1314 represents 一生一世 yīshēng yīshì (for a lifetime). So, if you say 5201314, you’re saying “I love you for a lifetime”.

Do you want to know what the main brands have done for this festival?
In this period, brands are pushing on selling online and the platform for livestreaming as LittleRedBook (RED), or social commerce as 得物(Dé wù) or 微 Weibo and KOL marketing or video promotion on WeChat mini-program are becoming the pillar of the Chinese marketing campaign.

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A shopping lover festival for lovers, 520 Valentine’s day

2nd match: KOL marketing Vs Influencer marketing

The second match of our EGGsist digital game see on the field two players:

Chinese KOL vs influencer

Kol (Key Opinion Leader) or KOC (Key Opinion Consumers) are the effective communicators to sponsor and attract in-target audience to your brand or business. How?

Before talking about the KOL marketing strategy, let’s understand how the Chinese digital behavior is changing and why influencer marketing is no longer working in China.  

Starting from the origins of the two terms, we can understand how the culture, digital mindset and digital behavior play an important role in China’s digital advertising.

The term ‘Influencer’ was adopted for the first time in the early 1600’s and describes

“someone or something with the power to alter the beliefs of individuals, and as a result, impact the course of events”.

During the latest years, the term has become viral in Western brand strategy to influence the belief of consumers and attract them to buy a product or a service.

While the idea of KOL (Key Opinion Leader) born in 1940s it established a concept that:

“people could change their views and preferences more because of trusted figures in their networks than because of Some more conventional forces such as advertising”.

Taking into consideration these assertions, and the fact that Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated, with a fragmented social media landscape, it is, therefore, obvious that once you have the Chinese users’ attention it is harder to keep it.

What Does a KOL Do?

KOLs have a broader impact and influence over their audience. They are experts in their subject and possess due credibility in order to be relied upon.

Which are the best channel to do KOL marketing campaign?

WeChat 微信, TikTok 抖音, Weibo 微博, Xiahongshu 小红书, Bilibili 哔哩哔哩, Alipay 支付宝 and others.

KOL vs Influencer marketing for Women’s day

What big brands have done to celebrate the International Women’s day, which channels have chosen for China market and which KOL/Influencer has represented its campaign?

Nike celebrates the International Women Day on Western and Chinese channels!

Nike chooses WeChat and G.E.M for China market

再也没什么能阻挡, 我们和这个季节一起复苏

“Nothing can stop us, we will recover with this season!”

Nike uses the power of the women to say that at this particular moment China and all the women don’t give up!

On our Western social channels, instead, Nike chooses the figure as Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe and other iconic women for its powerful and inspirational ad campaign.

The clip, which comes in at just under one minute, features a narrator stating that one day females won’t need International Women’s Day because the playing field will be even!

In fact, the ad claim is “One day we won’t need this day

Besides other Chinese channels, Alipay is able to incorporate in its ecosystem all the related Alibaba’s channels and to drive the user to different branded promotion.

New york city page

On occasion of Women’s Day, Alipay came out with a dedicated landing page on different this. Here an example of NY city page on Alipay.

Pandora uses Michelle to promote its products and celebrate the women’s day!

Fred renominated jewelry brand, has chosen instead of the platform of Weibo to celebrate the Day and Olivia, or better known as 王子文, as KOL influencer.

Have you chosen your own platform and KOL for your next ad China campaign? Keep following us!

email: bd@eggsist.com

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2nd match: KOL marketing Vs Influencer marketing