At this point, we've taken a look at a number of social media platforms and the unique ways in which they engage their users through status sharing, photo and video sharing, messaging, and more. Now, we're going to take a look at a social media platform that incorporates them all and may give us a glimpse into what the future of social media may look like, WeChat. WeChat is owned by Tencent, a Chinese online communication and gaming company. Beginning in 1998, they began launching other successful social media platforms, including QQ, a messaging platform, and Qzone, a microblogging platform and various other e-commerce and search functions. But Tencent was looking to create a platform that was mobile-first. In 2011, Tencent launched Weixin, which means micro-messages, as a phone messaging platform. In 2012, they launched outside of China and began using the name WeChat. The app continued to grow in features as well as usership, and today WeChat has over 1.2 billion active monthly users worldwide. The majority of users, actually 53 percent of them, are between 25 and 35 years old, and over 45 billion messages are sent on WeChat per day. Most users, a billion of them, are located in China and many users have more than one WeChat account. Users say they live on WeChat because of the vast diversity of its functionality, and a third of users spend four or more hours a day on WeChat. So is WeChat a messaging site like WhatsApp? Is it a social media app where you can connect with friends like Facebook? Is it an e-commerce site like Amazon? Or a money transfer app like Venmo? Or a place to order food like Grubhub? Or an app you can use to summon a rideshare car like Uber? Is it for business communication like a company intranet? Can it be used for payment like Apple Wallet? The answer is yes! In fact, Fast Company calls WeChat the app for everything. An investment firm, Andreessen Horowitz calls it a portal, a platform, and even a mobile operating system, and one Chinese user told the New York Times that it's not an exaggeration to say that I live in and work on WeChat. I spend about one-third of my daily nine-hour phone time on WeChat, and that doesn't include the 2-3 hours I use WeChat's web version. To make it easier to understand WeChat, you can think of it's functionality in three big buckets. First, it allows you to connect with people through extensive chat functionality. Second, it lets people share. You can share moments, files, and locations, for instance, and third, it lets people manage their personal or business life. Let's learn more about WeChat's functionality and how users and businesses use this extensive Platform. WeChat may be one app, but it gives users the ability to digitally manage nearly every aspect of their lives. Instead of one platform offering one specific activity or service like Messenger or LinkedIn, WeChat collects all the apps you would interact with on your phone or the websites on your browser into one. That way, users have a one-stop shop for their everyday needs. Users can setup a personal account on WeChat, but they must know someone already on the platform who can confirm their invitation. Once registered, users find a minimal home screen with four options along the bottom navigation; chat, contacts, discover, and Me. The core of WeChat is, as the name says, chat. Like other messaging apps, users are able to send texts, voice messages, images, and emojis. WeChat also has a translation function and the ability to recall texts. Users can interact one-on-one or in group chats. They can also do voice calls, video calls, and group calls. If users want to have a little fun, they can shake their phone and it will connect them to WeChat users nearby. WeChat also features moments, which is a social feed similar to what you'd see on Facebook or Twitter. Here users can post status updates, share links, photos and videos, and like and comment on other's posts. Users can choose who can see their posts through the privacy settings. Posts can be made public or available only to those members of a specified group, like work friends or friends from college, for instance. Users have access to over two million various mini programs or mini apps through WeChat. They access these mini programs by scanning a QR code at a brick-and-mortar location on a sign or a poster at an event, or even from another user's phone. Though, WeChat hides these mini programs on their app in order to focus users on chat, WeChat's core business offering. But users can swipe down on their homepage to find them. What kinds of mini programs does WeChat offer? Well, pretty much everything. You can order food or check on wait times at your local restaurants. You can play games, make travel reservations, order a car share or a bike share, track your fitness, search libraries for available books, and send friends a coffee. There are even apps that allow you to customize your own jewelry, book doctor appointments, or apps that can tell you about an upcoming court date. WeChat will also hold an electronic version of your government ID. WeChat also offers WeChat Pay, which not only stores bank information and allows users to pay through their phones like with Apple Pay, but also allows users to transfer money to other users, split bills, pay their utilities, book a train and a flight ticket, buy movie tickets, book hotels, manage their wealth, and shop. WeChat has tapped into Chinese tradition with their red envelopes feature. In Chinese culture, gifts are given in red envelopes at holidays and on special occasions. On WeChat, in addition to straight forward money transfers users are able to send each other digital red envelopes with monetary gifts. The red envelope can also serve as a game in that the first user of a group text who opens the red envelope gets the entire contents. When WeChat launched red envelopes in 2014, it gave away 1.2 billion envelopes to its users who needed to shake their phone to get a chance at winning the gift. Now that we've seen the kind of value and functionality WeChat can bring to users, let's take a look at ways businesses can use WeChat as well. Because the WeChat ecosystem runs on an assortment of small apps, businesses have the opportunity to partner with WeChat to make their services and products available to WeChat users through their own mini program. With 1.2 billion users who spent $115 billion in 2019, businesses have a large market ready to buy on WeChat. For example, the McDonald's mini program serves as a rewards program where diners can scan their phone at checkout and accumulate points. It's a small, easy way to interact with the brand, but it gets users engaged and coming back for more points. French luxury brand, Longchamp, is using its mini program to facilitate e-commerce sales. Only one branch in China holds physical stock of new custom designs. While all the rest display QR codes that potential buyers can scan, they then get access to the full catalog through the app and can purchase from there. Armani's cosmetics line launched a mini program where WeChat users were able to try on various lipsticks through the app's augmented reality feature. Users could then purchase the products that they liked immediately. Luxury fashion house, Fendi, launched a WeChat game where users can walk around Rome collecting coins unlocking levels and learning about Fendi's history. Fendi then chose players to win a trip to Italy. Since many programs are smaller, lighter versions of apps, businesses don't have to invest in creating fully formed heavy apps like the kind you see on iPhone and Android. Additionally, WeChat takes care of all the settings features like notifications and logins so businesses don't have to. Businesses can also create official accounts, a bit like they can create business pages on Facebook. These accounts allow businesses to push out content to their users, have a website-like functionality in their account page, and offer customer service interaction among other features. WeChat also has a search functionality. Through search, users can discover accounts to follow or mini programs they can use. Brands can create a brand zone, which is a hub where a brand can provide a central overview of all it's WeChat activity. For instance, it can list it's different mini programs in it's brand zone. This is a way for brands to get exposure to people that don't follow their official account. Brands zones come up on top of the search results in searches for the brand. Here is an example from Cartier, who uses it's brand zone as a way to direct traffic to its e-commerce site so people who are not following the brand on WeChat can still shop. Businesses can also advertise on users' Moments feed like similar sponsored content on the Twitter or Pinterest feed. Businesses can target users by location, interest, and various demographics. WeChat also offers banner advertising as well. Be aware that businesses need to apply to be verified by WeChat first, and WeChat gives preference to Chinese businesses over international companies. WeChat is one app that offers a massive amount of functionality for its users and integrates thousands of programs that apply to every aspect of daily life. Yet, when you look at it WeChat functions very similarly to an entire iPhone or Android ecosystem with its collection of standalone apps that users can download à la carte to provide the same functionality. So is WeChat a future of social media where all apps, services, games, and functions will be contained in one platform? We'll have to see. Now, let's turn our attention to social media platform that has also added increased functionality over time, Instagram.