Two strategies: The world’s two largest social-networking service providers, Tencent and Facebook, approach the world of connectivity with differing strategies. Facebook benefits from first-mover advantage, but Tencent is fast catching up as China sets its sights on mobile internet, harnessing what will be the world’s biggest mobile network and underdeveloped offline consumer market.

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Different demographics

Time spent:
Weixin users are heavy consumers, with more than 55% accessing the app over 10 times per day. Weixin, or WeChat outside of China, offers many more services than a simple social messaging app. It is a fully fledged, ever-growing social system with instant messaging, social media, mobile games, mobile payment, e-commerce and O2O functions, nicely integrated into one app.

Usage frequency:
Chinese social media users are more engaged than American users in general. A daily active Weixin user spends around one hour on Weixin on average versus 40 minutes for a Facebook user on Facebook.

Internet access:
Smartphones will drive China’s internet market. The mobile-internet market will be two to three times the size of the USA’s. China smartphone users are estimated to be 1.7x PC users, compared to 0.77x for the USA.

User age:
Facebook is more popular among female users, accounting for 55% of total users. Users on Facebook are older on average. It has more young (below 18 years old) and senior (over 50 years old) users than Weixin (55% vs 3%).

Different strategies

“Social advertising”

Tencent’s ad-platform portfolio - Qzone, Weixin, Video and Appstore - is great for marketing.Exclusive video content, ad inventory from Weixin public accounts, Weixin Moments, Qzone new feed ads and YingYongBao app-store ads could see Tencent’s ad-revenue could increase fivefold to US$7-9bn by 2019.

Facebook’s Install-Ads app is a big success, driving more than 50% social ad-revenue growth over the past two years. The apps are inserted in users’ news feeds to encourage download of the promoted mobile apps or games from Apples Ap Store or Google Play.

Mobile gaming trends


Shake it:
The “shakes” function on Weixin/Mobile QQ could become an entry gateway for O2O services. For example, Tencent has partnered with TV stations to promote content and launched joint interactive activities. In addition, users can use the shakes function to receive messages from nearby merchants. When users shake their phone with their TV on, they can

  • receive messages on upcoming TV programme lists.

  • vote for their favourite singers during the popular Voice of China singing contest.

  • receive red packets distributed by CCTV Chinese New Year Gala.
  • E-finance

  • Tencent users can make online payments, transfer money and pay credit-card bills using Weixin payment.

  • Tencent has expanded its payment service to offline merchants despite the government’s ban on QR-codes in offline stores.

  • Recently, Facebook announced rolling out a peer-to-peer payment service on the Messenger, allowing users to connect their accounts to debit cards. However, the transfer could take one to three business days, whereas Chinese peers already support same-day settlement.
  • Extras

    We hosted a conference call with leading Facebook ad agency AdParlor to review ad-spending trends in 1Q15.

    In Connecting friends,
    Tencent vs Facebook and its accompanying abridged Apples to Apples report,
    Elinor Leung and James Lee examine the similarities and differences between these two social-network behemoths that are dominating globally.