WeChat founder Allen Zhang shares 4 guiding values for WeChat in 2016

Allen Zhang WeCHAT
Photo from Baidu Images.

At the Professional Moderators Forum of the WeChat Open Course held in Guangzhou on Monday, Allen Zhang, Senior Executive Vice President of Chinese tech giant Tencent and President of Weixin Group, shared the four core values of WeChat.

1. Everything is subordinate to the value it gives to users

This is also Tencent’s motto. WeChat tries its best to keep the system clean and prevent too much system information from popping up. In one story, Tencent Weibo has already stopped running, but its official WeChat account was still sending messages to its 100 million fans. Those messages meant nothing to users and caused them annoyance, so Zhang closed the WeChat account the day he found it.

WeChat tries to be fair to all its users. It has a limit of 5000 friends per user and a RMB 200 (USD 30) limit on red envelopes. It used to have a white list granting some users special privileges, but this led to competition among users, so WeChat eliminated it. If demand is strong, WeChat says it will fulfill the demand within the rules, but it will not use a white list.

2. WeChat will highlight valuable content
The number of messages that a subscription account can send out every day is strictly limited to one, because users don’t have time to read too much content. If users are deceived into following an official account, that detracts from their experience. WeChat encourages users to unsubscribe from unworthy accounts and ignore information interrupting their experience. Increasing visitor volume by cheating users will eventually drive them away.

So Zhang encourages third-party developers to think over whether they want to use WeChat as a platform to better serve users or as a channel to improve their website traffic. WeChat used a lot of resources to support original content last year. In the era of BBS and blogging, good writers don’t get paid enough. Original content serves the interest of both WeChat and users, so good writers will be rewarded, and original content producers will get more advertising share.

3. A good product should encourage users to leave after use
Most social media networks want to make users to stay on their accounts as long as possible, but Zhang wants users to leave after using WeChat. Data shows that users spend too much time on WeChat. Many of Zhang’s own colleagues check WeChat every two minutes during meetings. Any product is just a tool, and a good product should satisfy the needs of users as efficiently as possible and then encourage users to close the app.

Zhang is glad to see users perusing the content in Moments, but it worries him to see users spending too much time on it. WeChat strictly limits marketing content in Moments, because low quality content wastes users’ time.
WeChat doesn’t encourage users to add too many friends. A notice will appear every time users add a friend, and batch importing contacts is not allowed. Less information means a greater future, says Zhang. Many content producers want to send out a lot of posts, but users don’t have time for too much content. So WeChat is very strict about limiting posts from subscription accounts.

4.  WeChat aims to make commercialization invisible
A good product doesn’t contradict with user experience or value. A good product must reach the group of users it need to reach. After advertising was launched in Moments, users actually liked it, said Zhang. He used WeChat’s voucher system as an example. WeChat distributed many red envelopes last year, but the usage rate remained low. A voucher isn’t worth anything if it can be easily acquired. Now, WeChat uses vouchers that users can get from their friends who buy stuff.

Zhang also revealed that WeChat has plans to introduce app accounts, an official account with the function of an app. With these accounts, users will no longer need to install apps on their phones. Instead, they’ll be able to do everything they can do on an app by following the app’s account on WeChat.

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