In June and July 2021, both WeChat and WeCom have provided interesting functionality updates to empower brands' business management process, enhance user friendliness and introduce WeChat Mini Games Livestreaming to expand brands' marketing opportunities to China.
A. WECOM UPDATES IN JULY
WeCom, formerly WeChat Work, is a business communication and office management tool developed by Tencent to solve the critical challenge of communication in the workplace. WeCom is deeply integrated within the WeChat ecosystem, allowing for seamless interconnection between the two platforms. By December 2020, 5.5 million enterprises and organizations have been using WeCom in China.
With the latest patch version 3.1.10, released on 14 July for iOS devices, Tencent introduced several highlighted features addressing the overall usability and significantly closing the gap between WeChat and WeCom functionalities. Hence, the platform is empowering the business management process while striving to be more user-friendly.
1. WeCom Moments & Channels to Deliver Brand Awareness
WeChat Moments and Channels are now directly linked to users' and corporates' WeCom profile pages. When a customer visits a WeCom member’s personal information page, he can now see user’s Moments and will be redirected to see content posted on that user’s WeChat.
With this, Sales Associates on WeCom could utilize their WeChat Moments as not only a place to share daily activities to family and friends, but also as an information hub displaying new products, company activities and brand values to raise brand awareness and have a more personal touchpoint with their customers.
Another interesting feature enabled by the latest update is that brands can now bind their Channels to their WeCom Corporate profiles. Once successfully binded, WeCom customers checking corporates’ profile pages can be easily redirected to WeChat Channels and see published videos and other content.
This, together with WeChat Moments, reflects the increasing connection between WeChat and WeCom, allowing for companies to leverage these two functions as a place to potentially promote brand visibility and further engage with their customers.
2. Improved Mobile User Experience with Multiple Productivity Tools
Differentiating from WeChat, WeCom has its own built-in workplace applications from cloud storage - WX Drive, WeDoc, etc that users can conduct frequent business functions from reports, questionnaires, meetings to expanded integrations of Mini Program applications and many others.
In this patch, WeCom has further improved the user experience in mobile environments with the following enhancements on WeDoc and Forms.
Forms: A Better Solution for Workflow Process
Previously, users were able to use Forms to perform the normal business activities ranging from daily reports, satisfaction surveys and attendance checks. Now, additional enhancements have been made to allow users to be more active and flexible in selecting and customizing the most appropriate format from the updated Gallery Templates. Users can now easily configure manual or automatic settings for different sections in a format.
WeDoc: Improved Mobile Experience
WeDoc, the WeCom-equivalent of Microsoft Office and Google Suite, has introduced more functionalities to improve users’ mobile usability. In this version, the significant improvements allow WeCom users to view, select, rearrange and quickly edit or enter data easily from the native WeCom.
More importantly, the WeDoc application has also been fully optimized for mobile display and touch functionality from dragging, selecting to landscape mode, fostering a seamless WeCom user experience.
3. Enhanced Customer Management & Communication
Group Names, Group Welcome Messages, and other settings can now be configured as templates so members can apply them in batches to customer groups and improve service efficiency.
Depriving from WeChat Official Accounts functionality, WeCom allows businesses and admins to set up the customized welcome messages for group chat or customer individually. Admins can now:
- Attach important files
- Include hyperlinks and embedded website URLs
- Set up automatic responses to certain questions
The integration between WeChat and WeCom is also deepened by the conversation forwarding feature that allows both iOS and macOS users to have seamless communication with either customer and colleagues within a simple process without any burdens.
B. WECHAT UPDATES IN JUNE AND JULY
1. Mini Games Live Streaming: A New, Exciting Marketing Opportunity for Brands in China
WeChat Mini Games have become a massive hit in China since its first introduction by WeChat in 2017. These easy-to-play mini mobile games were adopted by the luxury brand Burbery last year, allowing players to earn exclusive Burbery items such as a limited edition monogrammed surfboard, hats, AR-themed characters and face filters.
In Jan 2021, WeChat expressed the wish to integrate this mini game feature with live streaming and PC together with in-app purchasing and advertisement. This feature is now finally realized on 25 June 2021, opening a new world of marketing opportunities for luxury brands!
Mini Game Live Streaming is now associated with WeChat Channels, E-Commerce and Gamification features, allowing brands to:
- Sore streaming sessions to the library as videos, shareable to WeChat Moments
- Directly engage with users by running lotteries and other gamified tactics
- Redirect them to Mini Shops or E-commerce WeChat Mini Program to drive sales
Users can access the Mini Game broadcast portal in two ways:
- Click on “...” in the upper right corner to pop-up the option panel
A button “Go Live” will appear for users to proceed to the live streaming sessions.
Before the session is live, brands will need to add the cover and fill the theme description for their audience. After that, a section will appear on Channels for the followers to view the broadcast and engage by making comments, pressing like and sending gifts.
- Brands can conduct a live streaming session via WeChat Channels directly
Once the livestream session is active, users can click on a video game button in the top right corner for selecting the Mini Games from the suggested list or search for one from the Mini Game library.
During the streaming sessions, a small window will appear displaying key data such as popularity, number of active people and real-time comments. The live sessions can be stored and shared through WeChat Channels and Moments.
Once the livestreaming is over, brands can also review the statistics and engagement for a better understanding and insights about the target audience. Mini Game Livestreaming therefore could be a very powerful tool for luxury brands to leverage to deliver innovative ways for customer engagement and sales conversion.
2. WeChat Channels’ Name Change: Limitation Extended
WeChat Channels is the latest core component that nurtures brands’ outreach in the WeChat ecosystem. It opens the opportunities for brands to reach more users on the entire network through public domain leverage and increase the richness of content consumption and user engagement.
Previously, WeChat Channels allowed brands to modify and change the channel name twice per year. In the latest update (8.0.9), released on 16 July for iOS devices, the modification limit has been extended to 5 times per year which opens more creativity and development space for businesses to adapt strategies for retarget audiences.
However, the feature that majority of content creators are looking for is “Account Cancellation” - a function that allows operators to re-open the account and start over channel - is still not available.
3. Hide Stickied Chats
“Stickied Chats”, also known as pinned chats, refer to when WeChat users pin important conversations and group chats on top of their chat. However, as the number of “stickied” chats grows, it will take up the displayed screen and create inconveniences for users.
In the latest update, users are able to get those Stickied Chats hidden and organized with a single click. Whenever all the stickied windows fill up a screen, the “Hide stickied chats” will appear in the bottom left corner.
After folding all the stickied chats, the number of folded chats will be displayed at the top of the page. When there are new messages in the folded chats, it will automatically reappear in the home page. This feature is currently only available for normal chats and group chats but unavailable for followed Official Accounts.
4. Follow Specific Members in a Muted Group Chat
Users can mute the notifications of any joined group chats, however, important information and updates will be missed. In this patch, WeChat allows users to receive the notifications from the specific group members that they've followed even if the group chat is muted.
Once user has followed a certain member, the notifications will be displayed to users through pop-up messages or following system configuration. Currently, the number of followed members is up to 4. It also displays the admin of the group chat on top of the list for users to easily define the important members to be followed.
5. Assign Exclusive Ringtones for Friends and New “Alert Sound"
In the new updates, users can now change the “Alert Sound” with the newly added 7 rhythms besides the default setting. WeChat users can set up 15 second ringtones for incoming calls from the QQ Music Library. Featuring millions of songs and sounds, coupled with the ability to search up for favourites and trending songs by keywords, this update will bring more enjoyable experiences for users on WeChat.
What’s more delightful is that users can assign an exclusive ringtone to specific contacts. Once set up, the contact is able to listen to the new ringtone when making the call.
6. Multi-Device Support Management
Worried about whether you've forgotten to sign out of WeChat on other devices? Worry no more!
In the latest update, WeChat allows users to keep track of every device the account is logged in. Users now can send files, lock, or mute notifications and even log out on devices from phone control with a quick click. This will increase the user experience and enable users to be more conducive in daily office.
7. Listening to Songs on WeChat Status
As the new feature is fully integrated with QQ Music, users can share their favorite songs on WeChat Status with their friends with an updated emoji.
Following this update, whether users view the WeChat Status on Homepage themself or as a friend, now they all can listen to songs on QQ Music everyday with different elements and visuals such as viewing lyrics, MV, while friends can quickly "Follow This Status" or redirect to the source on QQ Music.
8. Quoted Messages with Displayed Thumbnail
A new feature that allows users to quote or reply to messages with content in images, videos, or Mini Program attached small thumbnails. This will enable users to identify and realize the content without clicking onto the attached items directly.
Why Are These Updates Important? Key Takeaways:
The latest updates, WeChat 8.0.9 and WeCom 3.1.10, have multiple significance for users' daily engagement with China No.1 Super App:
- Further strengthened the interconnection between WeChat and WeCom, allowing for an integrated user experience
- Facilitate a better and optimized mobile experience for individual users
- Deliver innovative marketing and office management tools for brands wishing to leverage WeChat and WeCom to build their businesses in China.
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