For the past few days, my WeChat has been awash with people reminiscing about the first post they ever published on the app’s news feed, which marked its 10th anniversary this week.
The newsfeed feature, called Moments, is like a social network that resides in the WeChat super app. Unlike many other social networks, which have either died out or fallen out of favor with their original users like Facebook over time, Moments has managed to stay relevant.
According to an annual speech by WeChat creator Allen Zhang, in January 2021, there were 780 million users on Moments, 120 million of whom were actively posting content. On its scale, Moments is one of China’s largest social networks, despite not being an independent app. People use it to record daily musings, promote business, find out what their old colleagues are up to, watch a live concert (from Westlife!!), share news and provide useful information to people in times of need. people in need.
It’s hard to overstate the role this seemingly simple feature plays in WeChat’s success, let alone the product philosophy and business logic behind WeChat that encapsulates it.
WeChat is aptly called a “super app” because each of its main features works like a full app, albeit with stripped-down features: WeChat Pay (PayPal), Short Videos (TikTok), Messages (WhatsApp), Official Accounts (Medium and Facebook page) and Moments (Facebook news feed).
A year after the messenger went live in 2011, WeChat introduced Moments. Like Facebook’s news feed — arguably the closest thing to its western equivalent — it features a scrolling array of text, photos, articles, and videos shared by a user’s contacts.
Moments’ longevity stems in part from its prominence in a near-ubiquitous app in a country of 1.4 billion people. As of September last year, WeChat had over 1.2 billion monthly users who use it to chat, read news, watch funny videos, order food, book hospital visits, pay utility bills — you name it.
WeChat has also built a thriving third-party lite app ecosystem in recent years that is akin to an operating system that runs within the app, potentially challenging mobile app stores and fostering a walled garden. But the garden is under increasing pressure to crack as China targets monopolies in the tech industry.
The other critical factor, some argue, is that Moments has largely remained in its original form. Allen Zhang is often praised for keeping Moments posts in chronological order, free from the disruption of algorithms trying to predict which friend update a user wants to see.
Moments is also relatively ad-free – scroll down ten posts and a user can find one non-intrusive ad. That’s in part due to other monetization companies within WeChat, such as the mobile payment solution, which put some pressure on the network function to monetize people’s attention.
Moments is not without its challenges. Omnipresence is also his curse. Many users now have thousands of contacts on WeChat as the app is widely used for work in addition to social needs. Many users may not want to share their decade of stories with a stranger they just politely added to a networking event.
Seeing the demand for more privacy, WeChat started allowing users to hide or only unhide their Moments feeds in 2017. The move was a hit. In a speech in early 2021, Zhang said an estimated 200 million users had made their Moments feeds visible for just three days.
As long as WeChat continues to invent and listen to users, Moments will continue to attract loyal followers.
This post WeChat’s news feed turns 10. Is this still relevant? – TechCrunch was original published at “https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/20/wechats-newsfeed-turns-10-is-it-still-relevant/”