Are QQ Official Accounts the new WeChat?

Thomas Graziani WeChat news

Is QQ the new QQ?

QQ as a whole is decreasing in popularity, with 832 million users as of Q1 2015, a decrease of 2% over last year. Number of QQ users using smartphones reached 603 million, a 23% YOY increase.

Yet, QQ has made tremendous buzz over the last few weeks with the launch of its QQ official account. Why did it make so much noise, and could QQ be the best platform out there to accelerate your digital growth?

QQ Official Accounts launched in June

The QQ Official account site is: http://mp.qq.com/

QQ slowly started testing the QQ official accounts since June. During the testing phase, spots are very limited.  The last batch of 1,000 accounts sign-ups in September was completely claimed-for within 2.3 seconds.

The enthusiasm seems justified: if QQ official account is the new WeChat, then early adopters will reap extraordinary benefits. For instance, in 2013, the WeChat accounts having “news” in their title would get up to 3,000 followers per day just from organic search of this keyword.

A QQ official account owner shares: “I operate my account since mid-July, and I already reached 56,000 fans. 46% are between 0 and 17 years old, 36% are female, and only 8 over 1,000 have undergraduate degree or above. Most of them are in Chengdu”.

So if QQ accounts grow fast, they do so in very specific places: second tier cities or lower, among a mostly young and less-educated population.

In terms of function, QQ public accounts look almost identical to WeChat public accounts. They are also divided between subscription and service accounts. The back-end and functions are nearly the same.

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Surprise: QQ is a big hit among post-90’s

QQ sounds like an old APP. To urban tier-1 city dwellers it feels like a relic from the past. But surprisingly, QQ seems to see a resurge of popularity among the younger generation: 52% belong to the post-90’s (90后 generation) while users 25 and above are more likely to use WeChat.

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Why a hit among the young?

QQ has been trying hard to extend its reach, beyond simple communications and toward a true content hub. Middle of June, QQ launched the Interest Tribe(兴趣部落) platform enabling users to discuss topics such as the latest Xiaomi phone or book recommendations.

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Where WeChat is extremely focused on communication with a close circle of friends, QQ is leveraging its more open ecosystem to appeal to a younger audience which is more willing to step out of its comfort zone and meet people beyond its closed circle of friends.

QQ therefore developed a content-culture more appealing to the youngest. While WeChat will include more articles about news, policies or science, QQ is more of a “buzzfeedy” platform with high-click-rate and very sharable content. The very popular “Lengtu” (冷兔) WeChat account for instance has a very active QQ Interest Tribe page which it leverages through its very viral content creation strategy.

Like WeChat, QQ is also staying on top of the latest technological trends: it for instance introduced “QQ health”, a health-data and content hub leveraging data from wearables.

So, should I invest in QQ Official Account?

The short answer is: yes.

Is QQ going to withstand the test of time? Most likely not. QQ is not the platform of the future.

But in today’s fast-moving social media world, you can’t think too much about what will be around tomorrow.

You must beat your competition today.

And today, QQ is a good tool: it is a less competitive platform with fast growth and young demographics. We have already been discussing in other articles how WeChat accounts used less competitive networks such as Zhihu to create initial following and then convert it to WeChat. QQ is a great way to do just that.

However, QQ Official Account is not the new WeChat, its a new monster on its own.  QQ has very specific audience: young (17 years old or younger), diverse interest, and are less rational. QQ content therefore needs to be very focused on this younger demographic. If you are not 100% focusing on post 90’s content today, it is likely that you will have to re-write a lot of your content to cater for this audience. But if you do so and do it fast, the benefits can be huge.

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