Everything in the past is a prologue, and the third decade of the 21st century has already begun.
Looking back at the past ten years, it was the golden decade of the development of mobile Internet, and we entered a new world that was unimaginable before.
Our digital identities in the online world may connect more relationships than the physical world. There is less and less cash in our wallet, but we can get everything we need between square screens.
Countless products and platforms have risen rapidly in the past decade, some have turned into tears of the times, and some have become part of our lives, such as WeChat.
When more and more social relationships start from "adding a WeChat", when we subconsciously take out WeChat to scan the QR code when making a payment, when we use "Friend Moments to swipe the screen" to measure the popularity of a thing… WeChat has long been Integrate into everyone's life.
▲ WeChat "A Moment in Ten Years" short film
As shown in the short film "Ten Moments" recently released by WeChat, in the past ten years, countless moments on WeChat have been like small levers, leveraging huge changes from lifestyle to business society. You and I have participated. among them.
Ten years of WeChat, from a communication tool to a lifestyle
On January 21, 2011, WeChat version 1.0 was released. When it was launched, there were only four functions:
- Set avatar and WeChat name
- send Message
- send pictures
- Import address book
From today's point of view, this version is indeed very simple, but it has opened a prelude to the transformation of communication methods.
The most intuitive feeling for ordinary users is that they don’t have to look for messages sent to you by relatives and friends in a bunch of spam messages on their mobile phones, which improves the unsatisfactory communication experience in the PC era and the SMS era.
Making user communication more efficient is the starting point of WeChat, as Zhang Xiaolong said: "The mission of technology should be to help humans improve efficiency."
This product thinking has also been throughout the major updates and minor iterations of each version of WeChat since then, making WeChat more than just a communication tool.
The 4.0 version in April 2012 can be said to have laid an important foreshadowing for WeChat to move from a communication tool to a social platform .
There is such a passage in the opening introduction of this edition:
As you know, WeChat is not just a chat tool. Everything starts with a photo. You take a photo and you have your own photo album. You can learn about the lives of your friends in the "Circle of Friends". As you can see, WeChat is a way of life.
At that time, WeChat Pay hadn't even appeared, and it seemed a far cry from the "lifestyle". But Zhang Xiaolong has an idea that WeChat will be involved in everyone's daily life in some way.
As of version 5.0 in 2013, the outline of this "lifestyle" has been faintly visible. "WeChat Pay" will become a hub of the mobile Internet in the near future, but not many people take it seriously.
Until the launch of "WeChat Red Packets" in 2015, how many people thought that "sending red packets" would no longer be a New Year's unique custom, and "grabbing red packets" would become the most popular thing for Chinese people on the mobile Internet .
The most important role of "WeChat Red Packets" is to promote the popularization of mobile payments. After that, a small QR code connects almost all consumption scenarios and also laid an important foundation for the explosion of mobile Internet services .
Almost all the entrances of offline services have been moved online, giving everyone the convenience of being within reach 24 hours a day. Our lives are gradually being deeply tied to various mobile Internet services and are difficult to separate.
The popularization of mobile payment has provided new ground for business innovation. It has not only reshaped our consumer experience, but also changed the world's perception of Chinese-style innovation, exporting new business models overseas, and technology companies have begun to imitate them.
In the digital age, we can obtain unprecedented amounts of information. As Zhang Xiaolong said, the size of a person's world is determined by the breadth of information he has obtained .
However, on the Internet, where the flow of information is getting faster and faster, how to improve the density and quality of information is a rigid need for every digital citizen. The official account launched in 2012 is also an exploration of WeChat's breadth of information.
▲ The public good and service account in WeChat 5.0.
The official account provides creators with a pool that can tolerate light and deep content. Social recommendations from Moments have become a new way of dissemination. It also provides a new way to connect users to many Internet services, becoming a digital world. A unique information carrier.
In addition, the public account has also ushered in a sea-shaking change in the entire content ecology, and content entrepreneurship has become a trend that cannot be ignored.
In the following years, a large number of "writing people" have their own "content brand". In the words of Wang Xiaolei, the founder of the official account "Liu Shen Leilei Reading Jin Yong", the official account provided him with an "opportunity to rise in class" and change His original life.
After the official account, the next platform-level innovation of WeChat is the small program launched in 2017 .
Mini programs are native, ready-to-go, and low-cost product forms , so users don't have to download an app, and companies can also provide services and acquire customers at a lower cost.
Especially for low-frequency and just-needed services such as online medical care and government affairs and people's livelihood, it is a natural fit with the product form of small programs, which can greatly reduce the threshold for users to use, and allow low-frequency services to cover more people.
QuestMobile data shows that as of September 2020, WeChat Mini Programs have gradually formed a mini program ecosystem covering life services, office commerce, mobile shopping, mobile games, and travel services.
Entering 2020, video accounts have become the focus of content entrepreneurs' attention. Although WeChat seems to be a bit late for the layout of videos, video accounts also add an important territory to its content ecology.
With the opening of video accounts and WeChat small stores, official accounts, and small program malls, the closed loop of the WeChat ecosystem has been further improved, which is likely to bring new changes to the content ecosystem and provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
For example, the video account live broadcast of several functions has been updated recently, so that the live broadcast has the same "first-level entrance" on the discovery page, like Moments and video accounts.
▲The entrance of nearby people changes
At the same time, the anchor can already bring goods through the WeChat small store during the live broadcast of the video account, and can interact with users such as mic, lottery, etc., and users can also use "WeChat Beans" to reward the anchor. Users can also be directly converted to the video number and live broadcast.
It can be seen that this series of new functions of the video account has been prepared for the commercial performance of creators and the effective conversion of private domain traffic.
In the past ten years, WeChat has realized the evolution from communication tool-social platform-mobile Internet hub-lifestyle, which is also the epitome of the development of mobile Internet, and the core path behind it is "connection" .
Moments and Shake are the connection between people. The official account and video account are the connection between people and information, WeChat payment is the connection between people and currency, and the service account and mini program are the connection between people and services. They together form Closed loop of social, content, and service .
Using efficient connections to drive business change is also the best interpretation of Chris Anderson's conception of connections in the book "Long Tail Theory":
If you can greatly reduce the cost of connecting supply and demand, then you can change not only the numbers, but also the entire connotation of the market. This is not only a quantitative change, but also a qualitative change.
The essence of WeChat’s product philosophy is not "restraint"
For a long time, the outside world has deeply bound the word "restraint" with WeChat.
This impression may come from the constant launch page of WeChat, the abandonment of commercialization measures such as open-screen advertising in order not to disturb users, and there are few festive marketing such as "year-end inventory"…
But these "restraints" are just appearances, not the essence, nor the product philosophy of WeChat. In the WeChat public lectures in the previous two years, Zhang Xiaolong made it clear that there was no "restraint" in the WeChat dictionary.
Many people will say that WeChat is "restrained." But in fact, this is not the result of restraint. In essence, WeChat has been following a good design principle, which prevents us from doing many things that affect the aesthetics of design.
In fact, restraint is not important. How to achieve efficient connection through technology and improve the efficiency of individuals, industries and society is the consistent product concept of WeChat .
It is not difficult to understand when WeChat will often launch some seemingly "anti-trend" functions in the mobile Internet.
When the WeChat applet was launched, WeChat’s monthly activity had exceeded nearly 900 million, but it still did not provide a centralized traffic portal for it. Soon after its birth, it entered a "cooling-off period", pushing a lot of hopes to eat through the applet. A wave of short-term dividend products.
However, looking back now, although decentralized small programs sacrificed short-term traffic, they avoided exhausting platform resources and gradually formed a sustainable and prosperous small program ecosystem.
According to data from QuestMobile , as of October 2020, more than half of the TOP 100 apps have already deployed mini programs. Users have gradually developed usage habits, and the number of WeChat mini programs used per capita has exceeded 10.3.
Another case of "anti-trend" is in information distribution. In recent years, algorithm recommendation has become a major trend in content distribution. In the WeChat content ecology, whether it is the official account "take a look" or the video account, a large part The content is still based on social recommendations.
Zhang Xiaolong believes that obtaining information through social recommendations is the most humane . The social-based distribution mechanism is more conducive to creating long-tail content distribution capabilities and more conducive to secondary dissemination. Even if the number of official accounts exceeds 20 million, small and medium content creators still have the opportunity to be seen by more people.
At the same time, the official account is also trying to flow information, disrupt the timeline, and introduce machine recommendations. This is not a contradiction. For WeChat, it is not important whether to use information flow and machine recommendation. It is the key to improve users' reading efficiency and create a content platform with better experience for users.
The reason why many people think these features are "anti-trend" is because it seems to run counter to the goal of many Internet products chasing users' stay time .
But only by not taking the user’s stay time as a goal can we have the patience to pay attention to some seemingly "niche" but can solve some functions that users just need. For example, the two small functions mentioned by many people on WeChat some time ago, the "Contacts Management" on the desktop client and the "Image Transfer Library" of the subscription account assistant.
The internal cause for a product to go through ten years or even longer years is never restraint, nor is it the length of user time and the number of users, but how to build efficient connections between individuals, industries and society to improve their operations effectiveness.
Zhang Xiaolong once said that the driving force of WeChat can be summarized in two points: First, persist in making a good tool that keeps pace with the times. The second is "Let the creator reflect the value . "
By sticking to these two driving forces, WeChat has always been an efficient connection.
"Connection" has the power to change everything, from personal lifestyle changes to social values, all driven by changes in connection .
When the WeChat account became our coordinate in the digital world, we connected all real social relationships online, and an online society connecting 1.2 billion people began to form.
When the connections between people, information, and services are reconstructed on WeChat, there are more possibilities for business model innovation, thereby driving the fission of industry value.
In a flash of ten years, a "WeChat Internet" ecosystem has gradually matured, carrying our digital life and establishing new social and business connections.
If we say that there are countless small levers that can be used to instigate change on WeChat, and every moment we experience in this online society is an important fulcrum for changes in the times.
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