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Why is WeChat a good product, but not a good company?

via:博客园     time:2018/11/16 18:34:54     readed:190


Text / West Xiangxiang

Source: Yourseeker (yourseeker2018)

In January 2004, FB was just born in the dormitory. A friend of Xiaozha asked him, do you make this so-called social network to make money? Xiaozha was very honest at the time, and immediately knocked out a line to reply to the other party: "In fact, I don't know much about business, but I just want to do something cool." ”

To this day, no one will question the profitability of FB. Because its products are good enough to attract enough users, and have their own commercial means.

It seems that with good products, many problems seem to be solved.

Is WeChat such a good product?


Tencent's Industrial Internet Puzzle

Before we understand WeChat, let's focus on a bigger background, Tencent.

A while ago, Pony was in the knowledge of "Day to ask", "Is it interesting": Which basic scientific breakthroughs will affect the Internet technology industry in the next decade? What changes will be brought about by the integration of industrial Internet and consumer Internet?

The middle school language tells us that to read comprehension, we must first clear the writing background and the author's profile. Let's take a look at how Tencent is doing when Pony asks this question.

Its highlights were at this stage of last year, when Tencent became the first Asian company with a market capitalization of more than $500 billion, leaving Facebook behind and reaching its peak in January 2018.

But now, Tencent has fallen by $200 billion, roughly equivalent to an Intel.

Of course, we must admit that other Chinese Internet giants are not happy during this time. The main competition for NetEase fell 40%+ from the peak to the present, and it is a pair of brothers and sisters. As for Jingdong, since the beginning of the 18th, it has been waist-shouldered, and its performance is not even as good as Tencent.

But even so, this decline is not commensurate with its BAT status:


The reason most people find out from Tencent's second quarterly report is that the game business is under strong supervision. After all, even though its business has spread across all areas, from banks (micro-banks), insurance platforms (micro-guarantee) to medical (micro-medicine, 觅影) all-encompassing, but the game still contributes more than two-fifths Income. But now, the millions of players it has accumulated in many mobile games cannot be monetized.

Beyond the policy, most investors may wonder if the giant will still maintain its growth momentum during its third decade. Now, the game business is an important part of Tencent. What about the future?

There are two hidden questions here.

First, if the game business (for Tencent) is easy to get money, does it lose (or not yet cultivate) the ability to cash out other businesses?

We can see that although WeChat is a well-deserved traffic giant, its current means of realizing it is too singular. To give a figure, last year, Tencent received 10% of the total third-party spending on digital advertising in China, Baidu accounted for 19%, and Ali, nearly 33%.

second question,If the game business is no longer easy to get money, will Tencent have difficulty maintaining the layout of large-scale positions outside the core business?

Almost all promising startups in China can't solve a problem: Tencent or Ali. AT has been competing for new users and businesses and is struggling in many areas.

What makes the situation even more tense is that in the past, the plates have become significantly larger, so everyone can still believe that "the big fish big" is the reason.You don't have to pay too much attention to the confrontation of the frontal battlefield.But if the entire market matures and the future evolves into a “zero-sum game”, then the Prisoner AT has to invest more money to maintain its advantage. In this way, they have to ask themselves whether the cash flow is still abundant. How long can this battle last?

What's more, while encountering the dilemma of reduced profits, there are still bytes of beating.


WeChat is a good product, but it is not a good company.

Under this circumstance, it is almost inevitable that Tencent will shift its focus from the consumer Internet to the industrial Internet, but the base camp will not be lost. Because of the cornerstone of WeChat, Tencent's portfolio can be better positioned. But what about the current development of WeChat? Not optimistic.

For WeChat and the so-called WeChat ecosystem, it’s actually aPlayers need a platform, and the platform also needs players.game.

WeChat has long been the undisputed Chinese mobile Internet overlord. In terms of users, it is the super entry point of mobile phones; in the case of Tencent, it is a hen that will surely give birth to golden eggs. But the problem is thatWhen is the golden egg born? How will it be born?

This is not a problem faced by Tencent, and all Internet companies will encounter at least two tests:First, how to attract users? Second, how do you make money from them?

Tencent made a WeChat, the first question has been solved, but it is difficult to answer the second question. How to realize the traffic on this super app under the premise of ensuring a good user experience, Tencent has been exploring for several years.

Do you want to see how other companies do it?

In general, Internet companies have three major traffic realisation services:Games, advertising, e-commerce.

The three businessesMarket size from large to smallThe order is: e-commerce, advertising, games (here we use revenue as the criterion, e-commerce accounts for 60%, advertising accounts for 20%, games accounts for 12%).

However, the three major businessesRealizing efficiency from high to lowSorting is just the opposite: games, advertising, e-commerce.

In fact, these three business WeChat are involved.

Looking at the advertisement first, for WeChat, it seems that it is not advisable to insert advertisements in the information stream of the circle of friends, because there is a user's reserved place and the awareness of alertness is too strong. WeChat has also been quite restrained.

The focus can be on the game. WeChat has always been a powerful diversion portal, and the appearance of any small red dot can cause small traffic bursts. But for WeChat, the problem of the game business is not only that the imagination space is not enough. At present, in the small program, it also encounters no small trouble.

A typical example is that games based on Tencent's applet are full of plagiarism.

Foreign media have always benchmarked WeChat applets and games on Facebook Messenger. They found thatTencent is working for developers & quot; let profit & rdquo;.

In order to support the original small game, WeChat officially released the New Deal on the evening of November 7th. The most noticeable is the adjustment of the split ratio. The products identified by the WeChat team as “Creative Games” will be 70% divided. This is the first 37 in the domestic Android game market to break the precedent and break the deadlock of the previous 55.

The background of this policy is that WeChat claims to have superOver 1 million small programsAmong them, the game accounts for 30%-40%.

what is this concept? Looking at the numbers, on the 10th anniversary of the Apple App Store, there are more than 2 million iOS apps. therefore,WeChat's "application" is roughly half the size of the Apple App Store.. In other words, WeChat is trying to incubate itself into the WeApp Store.

butThis makes no sense.. Remember the above, the game based on Tencent's small program is full of plagiarism.

The reason why WeChat is not a hotbed of quality games is as follows:


This kind of ubiquitous piracy game not only does not hide itself, but has the possibility of intensifying. For example, some game companies even publicly sell the source code of popular games on a certain treasure, claiming that tens of thousands of yuan and one to three weeks can help you make a small game.

Of course, the WeChat official is also constantly hit. But this question will eventually be circulated back to the previous article: how to overcome the strong regulatory policy of the game.

Looking at it, it seems that WeChat has not done much to e-commerce.

This is largely due to Tencent’sE-commerce gene is naturally missing. It is not that the goods have not been sold, but the pats that have been made have already proved to be a failure. The platform business can't beat Taobao, but the logistics also does not have Jingdong. Finally, it has to be handed over to Jingdong.

It may also be for this reason. Although Tencent has had many layouts in e-commerce and new retail in recent years, WeChat has been hiding the e-commerce section in the secondary entrance.

At the moment when the small program broke out, WeChat may finally react, as if it has not tried the real first-level entrance & mdash; & mdash; chat interface to sell goods?

First of all, WeChat's chat interface is opened by hundreds of millions of people every day, and the scene is naturally suitable for consumption, and the traffic pool is very abundant.

Second, the traffic acquisition cost of the user chat interface is obviously very low. On the one hand, it is based on the social relationship of acquaintances, which can bring trust to users. On the other hand, the fission propagation of the circle of friends is extremely efficient.

Two-phase verification, traffic size and cost are not a problem, then the biggest problem becomes the realization efficiency of e-commerce.

And this is a problem that has been verified and can be solved.

A lot of "sports mode" has always been called social e-commerce. But to be more precise, this is a recommended e-commerce.

There are two drivers for consumers to complete shopping behaviors, active search based on a specific purpose, and passive recommendations for some reason. This directly divides the e-commerce into two camps: search for e-commerce and recommend e-commerce.

The fundamental difference between the two is that if the user actively searches for a specific purpose, then his consumption completion is extremely high, but the impact is minimal; for the recommended e-commerce, the user is passive because of hobbies and social relationships. Obtaining product information, so their consumption completion is often not too high, but the advantage is that the impact can be relatively large.

The origin of searching for e-commerce is Google, or more broadly, Google is searching for all the information for you, and product information is just one of them.

Then if we regard information as a commodity, we can also say that Facebook is a good "recommended e-commerce". Although it is a social tool, it does things based on information flow-based content recommendations, allowing users to unknowingly consume content without a clear purpose.

So, how about replacing content with physical goods?

This has been done on Weibo. The microblogging platform has attracted a large number of net reds. The followers have become fans of Weibo V because of a certain hobby, but the net reds have to be realized, so e-commerce has become a way. This is based on the weak relationship of interest to recommend e-commerce.

Amazon and Costco have done this. Unlike Weibo, these retail channels do not pass the “membership service”. Instead, they receive a membership fee from the consumer to ensure that the other party can purchase all kinds of goods conveniently, quickly and at low prices. This is based on the weak relationship of member services to recommend e-commerce.

However, is there a recommended e-commerce that uses strong relationships? Also, social relationships are a strong enough connection. For the domestic, this opportunity exists in WeChat.

This super app has a social relationship of hundreds of millions of people. You can find out what the other person has done through a circle of friends. You can share what you are looking at and what you want to buy through a chat window. And your friends are often a group of people who are more convergent with your economic strength, aesthetic level, and consumer desires. It seems that such a group of people become recommended e-commerce "pushing hands", it seems to be a imaginative thing?

This is exactly what I am looking for.Recommend e-commerce based on strong social relationships. In the chat interface and circle of friends, you can receive a large number of friends' spending decisions, even consumption & quot; request & quot;

From this point of view, it is natural to become the first tens of billions of US dollar companies on the WeChat platform to flexibly use the rules. From the perspective of WeChat, it is also the de facto e-commerce real-time test field.

But the most critical issue is also here. This road is a lot of work, not WeChat.


Will WeChat still be ok?

Today, any social product should be deeply recognized, and IM is a strong enough barrier. Since we have no work on the frontal battlefield, let us think about it: How can WeChat become better? If there is a successor, how can I overtake?

I think there are three ideas. One is backtracking history, look at WeChat's similar —— FB how to build a monetization system; the other is to try Musk's first principle, return to the product business model itself, to think from the bottom; third One is to think backwards and see if there are bright eye projects in overseas anti-FB social waves that can inspire us.

Since the first direction can be expanded too long, I will start another one later. Next we combine the second and third ideas to understand.

After reading a lot of projects, I think Ello is interesting enough.

Ello was made by several artists and designers who had a simple goal of providing a more social network. Initially it was an invitation system, but soon they found that the number of new users per hour reached 35,000.

Ello's interesting points are as follows:

1) Interactive novelty

When users want an alternative service, they often don't expect the replacement to operate in exactly the same way. So, Ello, unlike FB, doesn't have a Like button, but instead is a favorite feature called Love. This is largely due to the infrequent interaction between users, but the value that cannot be ignored is that it further confirms the strong relationship between the two parties.

In addition, it has a function called Omnibar, a black bar that always hangs over the top of the stream. Here you can upload content, @其他人, and private messages (two letters for private messages). In other words, you can implement content and communication functions in one interface.

2) Leverage

Ello gives users two ways to filter their traffic: Friends and Noise. You can mark everyone you care about as Friends or Noise and then go to the subdivision group to view it.

This is not like WeChat, you have to send a friend request, and it is more like watching on Weibo. Or so understand, it is a combination of Weibo and circle of friends. This design is based on the supplement of consumable content on the one hand and the possibility of generating links by more people on the other hand.

3) Reasonable gimmick

Ello claims to be very user-focused, emphasizing that he does not treat users as products, but rather treats them as customers. They deliberately advertised that many other social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, etc.) had no ads at first, but then suddenly changed. They will sell user privacy to partners and help advertisers bomb users. This is a betrayal of the user.


How does Ello make money?

The answer is simple: the basic version is free, and special features are charged. Once paid for unlock, it is available for life. And many special features can be gamified and customized, and strive to make everyone's experience different and have fun.

Now the question is coming. When such a product is in front of you, how much do you think its winning percentage?

The outcome is simple, and Ello has now transformed into a non-mainstream social application for the niche.

Remember the three ideas we mentioned earlier? Next we combine the two to analyze.

In fact, what kind of business model a product should adopt is closely related to its own use and characteristics. If you blindly innovate regardless of reality, it should be difficult to achieve long-term goals.

Why is the basic free special feature charge a mistake for Ello? Because it has a high probability of driving a "death cycle":

The user didn't pay at first, and didn't need special features to get a complete experience.

The first impression is poor, it is difficult to convince friends to try, it is difficult to use the network effect in the early stage;

Users will complain to Ello that developers may not have the motivation to make the experience better.

The breakpoint of the above problem lies in: Does the product's business model encourage developers to respond to user needs?

Ben Thompson's point of view is very interesting about this issue. His favorite business model is subscription, such as paying for a piece of software or a service every month. Because this means that developers are always under pressure to please users and make a profit.

For social products, advertising is actually its subscription model. Although the user does not pay directly, the actual use is based on the developer's ability to ensure that the user experience is excellent. Accepting advertising is paying in disguise, so developing business must provide a quality experience that will allow everyone to overcome the dislike of advertising.

And Ello's "unlock" strategy is precisely against this. This type of product requires you to pay/complete the task to "unlock" some features. The downside of this strategy is that developers are motivated to have a greater “unlocked” product and a “expanded” product experience that motivates users to pay/complete certain tasks. To get a quality experience.

But the problem is, once the user pays/completes the task, does he still have the motivation to continue to be happy?

Of course, when it comes back to social products, advertising revenue does not necessarily come from users. It is not that harmful if you can use your personal data reasonably and with the user's knowledge and consent.

As for privacy? Well, this thing doesn't seem to exist long ago. If you really care about privacy, then you may have to give up the internet.

In my opinion, whether it is WeChat or its replacement, if you really care about how to build a useful social network that will be successful in the long run, then the premise can only be really done a good thing, can pass Make money in a reasonable way and keep a quality user experience.

As you might expect, most products can't be done at the same time.

Back to the beginning of this article, Zuckerberg wrote this in the FB listing prospectus: “Simply put, we don't want to make money by making a fun thing; the purpose of making money is to make something better.. ”

Note: This article refers to some of the views of economist, stratechery and other websites.

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