WeChat’s short-video feature, WeChat Channels is seeing record numbers. In fact, between 2022 and the beginning of 2023, the CEO of Tencent Pony Ma declared that the Channel platform is “the driving force of the entire company”.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, ads in WeChat Channels feed generated $145 million in sales, becoming a key revenue driver for the company. In December of the same year, the total time spent by users on the channels exceeded that of WeChat Moments by 80%, signaling the former’s growing popularity.
One of the strengths of WeChat Channels is undoubtedly the opportunity to shoot live-streaming videos. In 2022, the number of users watching livestreams on WeChat Channels tripled, while the time spent watching livestreams grew by 156 percent. Likewise, gross merchandise value, a measure of the total value of goods sold on the platform, skyrocketed 800 percent year on year.
Not only can brands interact directly with their audience, but they can also seamlessly incorporate e-commerce. Luxury brands have embraced these services: Dior, for example, has livestreamed fashion shows and pushed promotions to its VIP customers immediately after the events.
Let’s see in more detail what we are talking about:
What is WeChat Channels?
WeChat Channels (微信视频号) is the WeChat feature for sharing short content that offers for the first time the possibility, to brands, influencers and “normal” users, to expand their reach beyond the circle of friends and followers. WeChat, in fact, for a long time limited the interaction and sharing of content between user-friends and brand-followers. Thanks to WeChat Channels, however, now everyone can access everyone’s content.
How do I access the Channels section?
To access the new WeChat feature, just click on ‘Discover’ in the main menu. Alternatively, you can visit a channel thanks to the sharing mechanism. A channel card can be shared in chat or in Moments. When shared in chat, it looks similar to a Mini Program tab. The content of a shared channel in the WeChat Moments feed, on the other hand, looks similar to a WeChat article card. By clicking on the shared tabs, the user is directed to a landing page from which they can access the channel via the ‘View Channel’ call-to-action.
How is it configured?
WeChat Channels looks like a media feed where short content is distributed. Although the name “Channels” mainly suggests video content, the platform supports multiple easily usable content formats, differentiating itself from other short-video apps:
– videos less than one minute long
– photos (up to 9 photos in succession)
– short news
– short articles
WeChat Channels has room to grow. As Tencent President Martin Lau mentioned on the company’s Q4 earnings call, “the time spent per person is actually way below industry standards.”
However, Channels has become a powerful in-app feature that supplements WeChat’s broader social media and e-commerce structure and supports the brands that use it. And with Tencent’s ambitious plans for the page, it is forecast by Zheshang Securities to generate $3.4 billion (24 billion RMB) in advertising revenue by 2024. Brands that aren’t using the feature may want to consider it.
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