WeChat blocks a viral Mini Program, Apple starts to reinforce 30% “Apple tax”, and a viral Mother’s Day campaign

Tingyi Chen New WeChat features

Mini Program updates in May

Tencent may be slow to update any WeChat features, but they are definitely pushing the evolution of Mini Program.

Here is a list of new Mini Program features released in May

  • Brands can now display different content depending on specific WeChat group ID or group name where their Mini Program is shared.
  • Mini Program “near by” feature lets users find relevant Mini Programs around them. Brands with local stores can use this features to serve in-store customers.
  • Tencent launched a Mini Program which enables admins to view data of their Mini Program on their phone.
  • Enabled developers to include a Share button on Mini Programs (Tencent forbids any other H5 pages to have a sharing button).
  • Mini programs can access more users data after a one-click authorization, including the past 30 days WeChat Run info (number of steps users take every day).
  • Mini program can have background music, adjust screen brightness, and have namecard sharing feature.
  • Unlimited QR code tracking API.
  • Template message to display order status.

All these new features enable brands to build more native “Apps” within the WeChat walled garden.

But how are WeChat Mini Program doing so far? A recent Tencent Penguin Intelligence survey shows that 80% of WeChat users never used Mini Programs.

There is however one Mini Program breaking the norm, which grew millions of followers overnight. The app is called Anonymous Chat (匿名聊聊), a mini program that enables users to enter a passcode and leave anonymous message.  This program reached 17 million PV (page view) within 5 hours. That is… until WeChat blocked it.

The official reason WeChat gave for blocking this Mini Program is that it is breaking the “incentivized sharing” terms of use.  Some speculate the real reason WeChat blocks it is because the social network nature of the App is in competition with WeChat itself. Others think WeChat blocked the Mini Program due to censorship concerns.

We may never know the true reason why WeChat blocked this Mini Program. But this at least shed light on the possibility of successful Mini Program marketing.

New WeChat Moment Ads format

The updated WeChat Moment Ads format is not just bigger, it also help with conversion. Instead of simple picture/video ads, the content is now combined into a clickable card. It can leads users directly to a H5 page and bring them down to the conversion channel.

Users familiar with Facebook Moments ads might agree that WeChat most likely took inspiration from Facebook ads strategy.

Another improvement of the new ads is now users can @ the brand to comment on the ads. Brand can @ back the user to reply to the comment. It’s great to increase user engagement and get feedback from the user.

New Internet Regulation

Starting from June 1st, a new Internet, News and Information Service Management Policy 《互联网新闻信息服务管理规定》will be enforced. Companies have to acquire an Internet Service Permit in order to continue publishing news/information related messages, in all forms of digital communication including but not limited to apps, website, forum, blog, Weibo, WeChat and other messaging apps.

The Act focused on the following major type of news: politics, economy, military, and diplomacy. It won’t affect news related with entertainment and sport.

Although this Act only explicitly affects platforms & websites, individual WeChat Official Account could be indirectly impacted due to tightening regulation by WeChat.

As brands or operators of an official account, you need to do a fact check before posting any information online. WeChat also tightened copyright protection for digital content. Brands should obtain permissions before re-sharing news and avoid posting sensitive content.

“Apple Tax”

Apple started to reinforce its 30% commission on any type of in-app purchases. Many major Apps including Yingke (major live streaming platform), Toutiao (content platform), and Zhihu (Q&A platform) are affected. These platforms had already modify their tip feature switching from WeChat/Alipay to accept transaction via Apple in-app purchase channel.

A Mother’s day cosmetic campaign became viral on WeChat

A Chinese cosmetic brand’s advertising for Mother’s Day got viral on WeChat, receiving 4 million views within a day and 40 thousand likes. The article was made of a 427cm-tall vertical picture, focusing on a storytelling experience for mobile users. Reading this long picture takes around 6 minutes.

The story is about a female spy taking on a mysterious mission in Shanghai in 1860. Through out the journey, the picture tells interesting facts of Shanghai during that period. It’s only at the very end of the campaign that users realize this is an advertising for a traditional cosmetic brand, Pechoin 百雀羚. The original long picture format and interesting storytelling incentivized users to share this campaign.

The campaign was promoted through several big KOL accounts which also helped to initiate the viral momentum of the campaign.   

Click to view the ads.

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