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Weixin the originator or copy cat app?

Written by Chris


in Web Programming

In 2011, a popular Chinese social networking app similar to WhatsApp came to fruition. It allowed users to do everything the most popular apps do today such as send messages, share news and pictures all in one platform. This is no coincidence, they were implementing the Uses and Gratification Theory which explains how audiences use media to satisfy their needs. This app clearly fulfilled a variety of needs.

As of 2014, there were 300 million active users. The creator understood it’s audience, this was the key to their success. They were targeting young urban smartphone users by offering a wide range of functions like sending baby photos to friends, getting the news, texting and even locating a cab. Sound familiar? The questions lends itself to were they innovative or just a copy cat who combined attributes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Their functions were straightforward, you could even record messages rather than type. Strategically, the app would keep you on their interface the entire time. For example, if you clicked on a news source it would link you to the URL rather than bring you to another website.

Innovation kept them vibrant

In a very competitive space they had to keep introducing new functions to fit an audience’s mood referred to as Mood Management Theory. This very simply suggests that individual’s media choices vary on their moods. In honor of the Chinese New Year, Weixin introduced a campaign called “Qiang Hongbao” which is a customary time to send family and friends money; the app allowed users to link their bank accounts to send and receive red envelopes (aka money) virtually. Once again, sound familiar? They even added a feature where senders could set a certain amount and send it to the intended recipients but to create some suspense it would randomize the amounts so some would get more money and some less. The end result, five million people ended up using the app resulting in $20 million being distributed!

Cab anyone?

With over 350,000 cab drivers in 30+ cities in China, the app introduced Didi Taxi which allowed people to book a cab using their integrated app called Weixin Payment which plays into a Structural Theory which allows users to access media technologies based on its available structure. Turns out more than 22 million users took advantage of the convenience for an average of a half a million bookings daily.

The take away

Make social media part of your audiences everyday routine and habit. Researchers suggest that over half of all media behaviors are habitual. Eventually use is no longer a conscious decision but an automatic behavior. Because Weixin is used with a mobile device and it’s with the individual all the time, they knew social media becomes part of people’s lives which makes it easier to change their behavior. I remember in the early 1990’s going to a restaurant and many people would be sitting at the bar smoking. When cell phones started becoming prevalent in the mid 1990’s the scene began to shift and people were no longer holding cigarettes, the new thing became cell phones. To alleviate the feeling of being uncomfortable and alone, many people made taking out and looking at their phones routinely a new safer habit. Remember the term Crackberry (aka Blackberry)? That was just the start of it, nowadays the platforms have made their apps addictive by putting in thing like notifications, comments and likes making you essentially want to constantly check social media to see if someone responded or reacted to your post or if they posted anything new prompting you to routinely check. Think it’s a coincidence? Think again read on!