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Popular Chinese Apps – WeChat

The Chinese social media ecosystem is fast evolving, but if you live outside of China, you’re probably using a different set of social media sites. 

Chinese online culture is flourishing, with its own internet terminology and suite of apps that can help Mandarin learners improve their Chinese. Spending just a few minutes a day on your favorite Chinese social media app can help you improve your language skills. 

In China, social media platforms perform comparable services to global platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube but in slightly different ways.  

We’ll take a closer look at four of the most popular Chinese social media platforms – WeChat, Weibo, Bilibili, and Douyin – in a mini blog series to have a better understanding of how social media operates in China. Today’s is about WeChat! 

WeChat is a massive social media platform with 1.2 billion monthly active users. WeChat is a “super-app” that has no international equivalent, even though it is sometimes referred to as the “Chinese Facebook”. 

WeChat began as a messaging software akin to WhatsApp, but it has now grown to become China’s largest social media platform and a necessity in daily life. Those who are serious about learning Mandarin can benefit from joining WeChat – this simple guide will assist you in getting started. 

WeChat allows you to send messages and make phone calls, but it also boasts a plethora of other features, such as games, an Instagram-like feed, and extensive financial and payment services for banking, shopping, and money transfers. It’s like having Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Venmo, and Uber all rolled into one (plus more). 

Do you have a reservation for a restaurant or a doctor’s appointment? WeChat is the best way to book them. Do you want to apply for a job? To email your resume, scan a QR code using WeChat. Do you need to get groceries or pay your bills? WeChat again. WeChat may play a role in China’s eventual transition to a cashless society. 

Most people use WeChat every day, to text their friends, keep up with the news, buy a meal at a restaurant, or call a cab. It has interfaces in multiple languages and an internal translation feature, so if you’re new to WeChat you can start off in your native language, but many features are only in Chinese.  

WeChat offers a feature called “Moments” that, like Facebook’s timeline, allows users to see updates from friends and businesses. Along with Moments, the most popular functions allow for watching short videos like in TikTok and “Mini-Programs” that can be games, shared forms and checklists, and anything else you can imagine.  

In addition, WeChat also offers opportunities for brands and businesses to capture, engage and cover their target audience. For example, a WeChat Official Account (gongzhonghao, 公众号) acts as a complete brand hub to gather followers, send them targeted content, push marketing and service notifications, and redirect them to a website/e-commerce. More recently, WeChat has launched a new function called video channel (shipinhao, 视频号). It is a platform that everyone can use to create and post content. Influencers with significant followings have taken advantage of WeChat’s massive user base to promote items and brands. 

Our international students use WeChat to keep in touch! Whether it’s during their semester abroad or after, the semester and alumni groups are active and full of friendship. Plus, we share news and updates about TBC on our official account. 

In short, WeChat has almost revolutionized modern Chinese culture, and firms have adjusted their marketing and e-commerce methods to cater to WeChat consumers. To know more about TBC and WeChat, you can scan the QR code of TBC official account and video channel below.  

By Suemmer Luo, Media and Communications Intern