WeChat tests short-video feature in challenge to TikTok

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WeChat is testing a new feature that allows users to post videos to an audience beyond their social circles in a bid to boost user engagement as competition from rivals Douyin and Kuaishou intensifies.

Why it matters: WeChat has released a series of updates in recent months, signaling that the most popular social media app in China is stepping up efforts to lock in more users and boost growth.

  • The Channels feature, which allows selected users to post videos or photos to random audiences, resembles the app’s Moments newsfeed, where user posts are only visible to their contacts.
  • With WeChat’s more than 1 billion monthly active users, Channels could potentially lure influencers and content creators from short-video platforms such as Bytedance’s Douyin, known as TikTok internationally, and Tencent-invested Kuaishou, as well as photo-sharing apps.

Details:Channels allows users to post videos up to one minute or up to nine photos at a time plus a link, said Jiang Hongchang, an editor at Miniapp.com, a site that was allowed to participate in the beta test.

  • In a call for influencers to participate in the test published on the WeChat Team official account, the app asked applicants to provide “proof of influence,” including follower count on other social platforms.
  • “We are going to explore whether the feature could become a new means for us to obtain followers and engagement,” said Jiang.
  • WeChat said in a statement to TechNode that Channels is still under an “A/B testing” and that the feature is the company’s “ latest exploration” in “providing users with creative ways of expressing themselves.”
  • It is unknown whether WeChat will grant all users access to the feature to view and post. The company said in the statement only that it could be “available more widely.”

Context:WeChat’s monthly active users reached nearly 1.2 billion as of September, according to parent company Tencent’s Q3 earnings report.

  • The app last week announced a new feature that allowspublishers on its Official Accounts Platform to add paywalls to their posts.
  • Earlier this month, WeChat announced several retail-friendly features for its mini programs, sparking speculation that it is trying to build a vast online marketplace to compete with rivals such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo.