There has been far too much hype recently about messaging apps. This is partly driven by Facebook's obscene purchase of WhatsApp. But in Asia/ China were WeChat is the darling of choice the attention is on it. Is WeChat deserving of the attention? Like most things about China, hype is 90% and only 10% is reality. The real numbers on WeChat and social media in China tend to shockingly disappoint.
First lets look at some approximate numbers for comparison:
Population of U.S. and Europe combined 1 billion
Population of China 1.2 billion
Internet users in U.S. and Europe less than China
Facebook users for U.S. and Europe 400 million, 60%+ active every day
Sina Weibo 500 million (global) registered users 25% active every day
WeChat 300 million (global) registered users daily stats unknown
U.S. and Europe apps used for marketing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, Linkedin
China apps used for marketing, Sina Weibo and WeChat
If you listen to the hype of China it is a hyper active on social media country, but it is a country where a college graduate makes less than US$400 a month and actual social media use seems pale to the North America and Europe. So why do the real numbers not add up? Well it could be cultural marketing practices that value inflated numbers over valid results. It might be b a strong desire to believe that China is the new frontier with streets paved with gold. Who knows? But I have been delivering social media in China for 10 years and I still remember a message from the Director of IBM China more than 10 years ago, “I can buy you all the market share you want, but I can not make you a profit”. Somethings about the Middle Kingdom will always remain a mystery and beyond the grasp of outsiders. But there is an answer but it will wait for my next blog entry.