What WeChat’s Founder Talks About When He Talks About WeChat Anxiety? | TMTpost

In the speech, Mr. Zhang shared with the audience with his opinions on WeChat anxiety and the four key values of WeChat OA. He added that WeChat was planning to launch App Account, a light platform where developers can promote their products. But can this platform alleviate his worries?

Jan 24, 2016 · 12 min read

Editor’s Note:
On Jan.11th, 2016, WeChat Open Class Pro Version 2016 was held in in Guangzhou. Xiaolong Zhang, the Senior Executive Vice President and President of Weixin Group at Tencent made his first public speech (Previously, the only time when Mr. Zhang appeared “in public” is an 8-hour internal meetings where he shared his experiences with his colleagues in Tencent).

Mr. Zhang’s speech was not only the first public activity of himself, but also the first social event of WeChat in 2016. In the speech, Mr. Zhang shared with the audience the four key values of WeChat. However, our journalist sensed more of his worries over WeChat OA. He admitted that he had never expected to make WeChat OA a quasi-media platform, and that WeChat would make people feel more anxious and irritable, since there always seems to be lots of information to deal with. He revealed that WeChat was to launch App Account, a light platform where developers can promote their products.

However, if WeChat is going to repeat the same mistake Baidu has made? If App Account can ease WeChat users’ anxiety?

According to Mr. Zhang, WeChat App Account is going to be a separate kind of account just like Subscription Account and Service Account. “This kind of account won’t send subscribers posts every day, but only when necessary. When subscribers have some questions, they can just turn to this kind of account,” explained Mr. Zhang.

Above all Mr. Zhang cited the “butterfly effect” to explain the so-called “account theft incident” last night, which misled millions of WeChat Wallet’s users to unbind their debit card from WeChat Wallet and almost gets the server overloaded.

We have expected to invite only the audience at the last night’s event to click the link and find out their WeChat stories and share them in friends circle. However, all of a sudden every WeChat user seems to be clicking the link to find their own stories.

Here comes the first problem: when so many users click the link, our server got overloaded.

And then comes the second problem: when the server got overloaded, many users couldn’t get access to the link even after waiting for a long time. Rumors, which said once you click the link, your bank account account would be stolen, ensued.

Again, our WeChat Wallet server got overloaded since millions of users believed the rumor and all rushed to unbind their bank account.

We all know the “butterfly effect”, but we didn’t expect that such effect will happen to ourselves: millions of users unbound their within less than hour just because a tiny problem.

Secondly, Mr. Zhang shared with the audience his understanding towards the “constant changes of WeChat OA’s rules and standards”.

As a matter of fact, I begin my speech with the above incident to show you how significant impact a simple mistake have on WeChat.

This is exactly why the rules and standards of WeChat change constantly. We are often challenged by questions such as: why are you so uncertain about the rules and standards on WeChat? Why can’t you just sort them out clearly? I’m sorry, because the bold truth is that indeed, we couldn’t settle down which set of rules and standards we should adopt, especially when our mindset as well as our product are also changing day by day.

At this point, I want to share with you the fundamental values of WeChat’s developing team: the way one treats a product will determine what kind of product one will develop. the sense of values determines the pattern of your products. Since we treat our product very seriously and with heart and soul, we will certainly change the product constantly to solve all the bugs and improve the user experience of our product.

Being one of the founding fathers of WeChat, Xiaolong Zhang also shared with the audience the four key values of WeChat. The following is the full transcript of the latter part of his speech, edited by TMTpost:

1. “Everything should be based on users’ value. This principle also applies to Tencent’s other products. The real challenge is to avoid things, instead of doing things.”

Users’ value is treated with the utmost importance here in WeChat. Although this might sound clichéd, this principle is exactly what differs a good product and a bad one. Although many people recognized the importance of users’ value, few treated it with the utmost importance. While others merely talk about it and never practice it, we take this principle very seriously and attach the highest importance to it.

To give you an example, many companies have turned to us and asked if they could cooperate with us and exchange their resources with us. However, when they do this, they might be compromising the users’ value. We shall never cooperate with others while compromising the users’ value of us.

Before deciding whether we should cooperate with our partners or not, the first question we will ask ourselves is if our cooperation will be meaningful to our users, if our users need it. That’s why we declined most offers and how we made decisions. To some degree, it is what we should decline instead of what we should do that is most demanding for us.

To cope with this challenge, we have no white list, and also why we carried out a special system to meet the needs of the larger crowd. We never encourage things such as white list and guanxi.

2. “How can we best make use of innovation when good stuffs do not necessarily grab much traffic?”

Before I start on this point, I want to offer you a special tip when using WeChat: you can actually add the location of a restaurant in WeChat Favorites. I myself often use this function. An article titled “Kindness Is More Important Than Cleverness” written by Amazon’s CEO used to be widely-spread in WeChat’s developing team. The article pointed out that although you could attract traffic by deceiving users, you might harm users’ experience a great deal.

How can we best make use of innovation? Speaking of WeChat official account, people tend to regard it as an open platform where WeChat OA owners can win their fans, do marketing, promote themselves. However, few people might wonder what kind of values WeChat OA is promoting.

What is WeChat OA going to be like in the future? Since the birth of WeChat OA, our aim has been to help realize the values of those really meaningful things. But what things are really meaningful in the Internet age? In the past, people find it hard to reach the audience no matter how meaningful their team or their cause is.

However, this shouldn’t be the case anymore in this age. Now that many “talented” people have a strong wish to reach their own audience and show them what exactly they are doing, we ought to provide such a platform. To be accurate, when I say “talented” people, I didn’t mean merely talents in the Internet industry, but rather of all walks of life.

However, as the developer of WeChat OA platform, we not only want to make it a pure traffic site, but also gradually come up with more creative and interesting things out there. It is our wish that all the companies who want to cooperate with WeChat can sit down and think for a while what exactly are they going to do with WeChat OA, what services they are providing to their users, and do they really want to make WeChat OA a pure traffic site?

We never want to see that WeChat OA will become a pure traffic site. What WeChat should be advocating is those really innovative and meaningful ideas, so that nobody will worry if their stuffs will be blocked by the platform one day.

During the past year, we spent lots of time encouraging original stuffs. In the past, those who can write original stuffs find it pretty hard to make profit out of what they wrote. Fearing that “bad money will drive out good money” one day, we spent huge sum of money and time encouraging and protecting original stuffs last year. As a matter of fact, we made huge progress in intellectual property right protection in 2015.

Today, an author can earn a great deal by his or her original articles on WeChat OA. Although this might be no big deal for them, we believe that what we are doing caters to the needs of users. In addition, since we are well aware that good stuffs might not necessarily grab much traffic (on the contrary, rumors seem to be much more widely circulated), we offer special bonus for WeChat OAs that stick to original stuffs when dividing income from advertising below WeChat OA articles.

However, you might argue that you use WeChat OA platform not to write original stuffs, but rather provide services. That’s extacly what I’m going to talk about in the third part.

3. “A real good product is one that users use it and leave it”

Many people might have heard of the concept: retaining users. We, however, are doing everything we can to drive away our users.

A real good product is one that users use it and leave it, do you agree? My guess is that most people in the audience are actually doing everything you can do retain users.

For WeChat’s developing team, however, we have always been advocating our users to use WeChat appropriately, since there is a real life outside of WeChat. We don’t think it would be good thing if you spent most time of your day on WeChat. Although WeChat is probably the most time-consuming app for many Chinese, we are actually worrying about this a great deal, especially when we look into statistics and see users who spent so much time on WeChat.

When I look around, I also see friends and my colleagues who are suffering from WeChat anxiety. When holding a meeting with my colleagues or dining with them, I find many people would check their phones or WeChat every two minutes.

Even if I ask them to put aside their phones, they can at most resist the temptation for five minutes. When they are asked to put aside their phones, they feel extremely anxious, restless and don’t know what exactly they should do. I don’t know how many people in the audience are suffering from the same problem right now, but I guess there should be a good number of them. What’s wrong?

Fundamentally, any app is like a tool. A real good tool is one that users use it and leave it. If users continue to use the tool after they have used a tool, an app, it would not be a good thing. For example, you won’t continue to sit in your car and enjoy the AC in a car after you have already reached your destination, since that’s not the core function of a car.

Although many people in the Internet circle might envy WeChat, we are, on the contrary, working out ways to help our users finish their tasks as efficiently as possible. We don’t want to see that our users always have so much stuff to deal with on WeChat. That’s why we forbid any kind of bland marketing in WeChat friends circle.

At first, there was merely the updates of one’s friends on WeChat friends circle. Gradually, WeChat users are “seduced” to share chicken soups and all other kinds of meaningless stuffs on WeChat friends circle. If this trend goes to extremes, then WeChat friends circle will be filled with meaningless stuffs, leading many users to hate friends circle and never check it anymore.

Statistics suggest that a WeChat users normally check his or her WeChat friends circle for, on average, 30 to 40 times every day. It is our wish that WeChat users can see the stuff they are most interested about and won’t see too many updates every time they check their WeChat friends circle.

This is also true for other functions on WeChat. It is our wish that our users can get things done efficiently within WeChat and set aside time for other things. I hope everyone present today think for a while if what you are doing is helping your users to improve efficiency, save their time, or just to kill time.

If your app aims to waste users’ time, they might never dare to use your app next time, fearing that they might spend too much time there. In this case, Google might give us a very good example, since it has always been encouraging its users to search for things on it and then leave Google in recent years. To some degree, we want to make WeChat a similar product where only users’ basic needs shall be satisfied, and nothing else.

As a matter of fact, we have always been doing so. For example, as developers of WeChat, we never encourage WeChat users to add too many friends on WeChat. That’s why WeChat users have to “Agree” whether others can add them to others’ WeChat Contacts. If we had encouraged users to add as many friends as possible, we would have allowed users to simply sync their contacts on QQ and in phone book to WeChat.

But we didn’t. We never want our users to add too many friends on WeChat. That’s also why they will have to click “Agree” to add a friend, and also why they can’t add new friends on WeChat in bulks.

As you might have noticed, we are very strict on how many posts WeChat OA owners can send to their subscribers. While we set out these limits in consideration of our users’ experience, WeChat OA owners, especially in the media circle, might not quite understand why we set out these limits.

Most people believe that the more, the better, because they only see things from their own aspect. However, as developers, we have to care about if our users are willing to receive so many posts every day.

In addition, we are very strict on posts that encourage users to share them to users’ friends circle, since users’ friends will have to stand for these stuffs. We don’t want that happen either.

4. “Commercialization should be imperceptible”

While others are more eager to go commercialization, we believe that users’ value and experience are not in contradiction to our commercialization. As you can see, WeChat users didn’t seem to dislike WeChat Advertisements. On the contrary, they might even be anticipating what ads will appear on their friends circle. We did so because we advertise products to the right target users.

In the speech, Mr. Zhang shared his opinions on several issues quite frankly. He admitted that they had never expected WeChat OA to be what it looked like now, and that an increasing amount of users are suffering from WeChat anxiety since they have so many things to deal with on WeChat, and that WeChat might be separating people instead of connecting people. The harsh truth is that many WeChat users might feel that same way.

Near the end of the speech, he made a joke, saying that WeChat might as well hold the next press conference with the help of virtual reality technologies. However, it seems that he was speaking the truth, and virtual reality technologies, indeed, seem to be the next trend.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @TMTpost-Chinese, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

(Chinese Version)

Originally published at www.tmtpost.com.

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