The fastest growing WeChat user group is senior citizens, with over 50,000,000 monthly active seniors, Tencent announced at its seventh annual Tencent Global Partner Conference, held in Chengdu. Use of the app was up across the board, but the company had been paying particular attention to older users and the results reflect this. Growth in users may be slowing, but the use of certain features such as calls are rocketing.
WeChat has been doing its data reporting since 2015, with slightly different metrics used. This time around, Frank Fu (符帆) of the WeChat core product team told a packed conference room that on average there were now 902 million logged in users per day in September 2017, up 17% on 2016.
50 million senior users (and for WeChat that starts at 55, but ends strangely at 70). This makes up the fastest-growing user group. Part of this could be more WeChat-using 54-year-olds turning 55. The company claims, however, that this is down to WeChat putting more effort into increasing elderly users after realizing the low proportion last year when they reported seniors as making up 1% of active monthly users. As monthly rather than daily users are counted for seniors, we cannot make an exact calculation of the percentage, but it is in the low single digits.
As Frank Fu pointed out, there is a 240 million population of seniors and so there is still a way to go. The platform launched a mini program to increase the number of older WeChatters. It helps their children teach them how to use it.
“I want to add functions like voice character conversion and voice input—this will change how senior users communicate,” said Fu.
Comparing September 2017 and September 2016, the number of messages sent every day was up 25% to 38 billion.
6.1 billion voice messages are sent daily, up 26%. These are particularly popular among senior users, but no breakdown was given in this release
There are 205 million daily connected calls for voice and video, up 106%. “This is attributable to the optimization of the products and services, and I believe users are getting more used to chatting with friends and colleagues,” said Fu. Users are making more calls and staying on them for longer: the average WeChatter is connected on 19 calls a month, up 135%. They make 139 minutes of calls, up 114%.
The Facebook wall-like Moments feature of WeChat has experienced a growth in the number of videos posted, up 22% to 68 million videos every day—the equivalent of more than one for every person in the UK. This shows users are sharing a more meaningful representation of their lives, according to Fu.
62% more mainland Chinese WeChat users logged into Moments from abroad over the Golden Week holiday to mark National Day. The most remote Moments user logged in in Greenland.
Sports and official accounts
There are 115 million active WeRun users every day, up 177%, said Fu, who himself aims for 10,000 steps a day.
Official accounts are growing in number, and even faster in terms of fans. Despite certain crackdowns, there are now 3.5 million monthly active official accounts, up 14%, which have 797 million monthly active followers, up 19%.
Red packets were launched for Chinese New Year 2014 and nothing has been the same since. Referred to as “social pay” by Fu, the amount of money being shared was up 23% year-on-year. And as more shops and service providers are accepting WeChat, offline pay is up 280%. “This is a staggering but reasonable figure,” said Fu, “Because people are used to WeChat Pay when they go shopping.”
Frank Fun ended his user data announcement with a touch of corporate triumph.
“In 2011, at the birth of WeChat we had the concept ‘WeChat is a lifestyle’. For the past six years we’ve worked very hard towards this goal with different platforms, different scenarios, different services. After the past six years of efforts I can say honestly and proudly WeChat is indeed a lifestyle”