Tech Savvy Researcher Feature: Tencent – The Chinese Social Networking Giant

By November 7, 2014Mobile, Social Media

“Now victory may be produced for your army from the tactics used by the enemy.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War
China, the Middle Kingdom. Home of Sun Tzu and his war strategies; Confucius and his many proverbs (he who stand on toilet, high on pot is not one of them). Long have we wondered over our grandiose, enigmatic neighbor to the far east that leads the US in tobacco, steel, cotton and – eat your heart out, craft nerds – beer production.

Our economic advisors can no longer be surprised at China taking the reins on so many classically American industries – it’s been brewing for so long, as it were. But latest to the table, and – I’ll admit, slightly surprising – is social networking.

China’s Tencent, along with its mobile messaging app WeChat, are on the cusp of overtaking our homeland’s founding and most shining example of red white and blue social networking, Facebook.

Oh – also Twitter. And Google+. And LinkedIn. Combined.

While Facebook is losing traction (it’s year-to-year growth has slowed to 18%, according to Steve Tappin, host of BBC CEO Guru), Tencent says that their WeChat has almost tripled in usership from its 85 million last year.

See TSR Feature on Facebook losing grip on younger generations

Part of the growth stems from Tencent not being a restricted entity (Facebook has been banned in China), and the social site is aspiring to continue its world domination with sights set on the US. And they have cause for optimism – their world users have doubled from 50 million to 100 million since May of this year.

But it’s not just access that makes Tencent a social networking commodity. The features are something global users haven’t been able to keep their thumbs off of. Sexiest among them is the “People Nearby” feature, mirroring what’s made Tinder so popular, albeit more innocently, showing you which of your contacts is in notable physical proximity. Pull the app up at the discothèque and, depending on the results, you might not have to make any new friends at all!

WeChat Mobile App Research Article Insight

Additionally, the “Hold-to-Talk” feature sends quick voice messages and, how’s this for fun-ovation – the “Shake” feature allows users to shake their smartphone and be connected with any global user simultaneously shaking. Aaaaand “Poke” rolls over in its grave.

And despite the current climb toward supremacy, humble founder of Tencent Huateng “Pony” Ma acknowledges they are not the pioneers. Although he does seem to have the formula for what to do with the borrowed format:

“Copying others can’t make you great. So the key is how to localize a great idea and create domestic innovation.”

This century, forget location. It’s all about innovation, innovation, innovation.
Do you look forward to Tencent and WeChat becoming popular in the States, or shall your Facebook loyalty overcome? Let us know in the comments section below.


Other ways China is beating us:

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