WeChat mini programs (MPs) were launched to much fanfare almost exactly one year ago. The format has really started to take off in the second half of 2017, especially as a way to supercharge WeChat e-commerce.
As anyone who's seen me speak, follows me on Twitter or listens to the podcast will know I've been closely following the many developments of the format throughout the year. Below I've put together a list of 10 of the best WeChat mini-programs currently out there. Simply read the descriptions and scan the code with WeChat to check them out.
N.B. Some of the MPs will likely be slow or not work outside China as they are all built for the mainland market. Enjoy...
There are a few decent video MPs out there now. The best one by far though (unsurprisingly) is Tencent Video. Did you know you can watch entire full episodes of Game of Thrones directly in WeChat? Simply scan the code below, type in 'Game of Thrones' into the search bar.
Take out WeChat and scan the QR code below.
Did you know you can easily listen to a playlist of all music shared on moments by your friends? Open up this mini program 音乐站 (music station) and select the 朋友圈歌曲 (Moments songs) option, see below.
Tip: For MPs playing audio it's a good idea to pin the MP to the top of your chat timeline and leave it playing while you do other things. Select the ... in the top corner and chose 'Add to desktop' to do so.
Honorable mention in this category: QQ Music mini program (pic below) is also pretty nice. It works as a personalized radio station playing you tunes that it feels you should like based on your musical preferences and what you have listened to before on QQ music. Type 'QQ' into the search bar on WeChat's mini-programs tab to find it.
This MP allows you to connect to Wifi signals in public places when you might not otherwise be able to. It basically holds a database of wifi passwords across China and is able to connect your device using that information. Use it if you're stuck in a public area and don't fancy burning up your data plan.
Need to tell the taxi driver that you want to go to the club? Too drunk to attempt broken Mandarin? No worries, this one has you covered. Voice recognition in both English and Chinese.
Honorable mention in this category: Tencent Translation King (腾讯翻译君) works almost identically but also has options for Korean to Chinese and Japanese to Chinese. Copy and paste '腾讯翻译君' into the search bar on WeChat's mini-programs tab to find it.
E-commerce is by far the hottest category of mini-programs. In the second half of 2017, it's become increasingly clear that WeChat team are using mini-programs as a way to streamline the buying process on WeChat and fight Taobao/Tmall's dominance in China's e-commerce scene. If you're trying to sell anything on WeChat these days, for sure you should consider using a mini program.
Pinduoduo (above left) is probably the most popular e-commerce MP. It's based around social selling; you can see from the picture above there are 2 buy buttons (pink and red) at the bottom of the product page.Pink is the price to buy directly, red is the price to group buy, i.e. if you find a friend to buy with you over WeChat (above right).
Another great example of WeChat mini program e-commerce stores is Mushroom Street (蘑菇街) which focuses on women's fashion. Mushroom Street is interesting because they use live streaming to demo the products (below right), something that's proved very popular on Taobao.
A classic MP, type any term you want to in English or Chinese into the search bar to find out how the term is trending on WeChat. Recent mentions of 'bitcoin' on WeChat below:
Make personalized photo albums for your WeChat groups with this mini program. Simply share it with the group and have people add photos to the album. If you want to come back to it go to the group settings and select 'Mini programs in Chat' to find it again.
The MP even features automatic facial recognition so you can quickly find all the photos of yourself or a friend from a big album.
Travelling to a different city on hols? WeChat's got you covered with their brand City Experiences audio guide MPs. Built for the masses of Chinese tourists spreading out across the world, but also with English language support.
Scan the code below for the London audio guide MP.
Launched earlier this month for the cities of Dubai, London, and Sydney, WeChat has plans to be rolling these out for all the major tourist destinations of the world in 2018 together with the support of local tourism boards.
No list of best WeChat mini-programs would be complete without mentioning the bike sharing giants of Ofo and Mobike who both have very popular and convenient offerings. Personally, I rarely bother to use the apps because the MPs are simply faster and easier.
Left: Ofo's mini program / Right: Mobike's
Our final mini-program is a complicated one. Entitled 最近文档随身 (Recent Files With You) this MP allows you to sync your recently used files on your desktop or laptop through the cloud over to your WeChat.
It does require you to download and install Tencent's security manager program on your desktop however, which is probably too big an ask for most people, but for those willing to do so it's pretty convenient way to ensure that those files you were working on in the office stay with you outside wherever you go to share or refer back to.
The use cases and case studies of mini programs are growing all the time. The format has really started to take off in the 2nd half of 2017. I predict mini programs will have a bright future in 2018, they are clearly not going away and are increasingly important to the future of the WeChat platform.
--- About the author: Matthew is a keynote speaker and session host for executive groups on the topics of WeChat and Tencent (China's largest social network and Asia's largest internet company). For speaking availability: email@example.com
This article first appeared on the China Channel blog.
Matthew is the Co-Founder of China Channel. He is a well-known speaker and writer about WeChat and Tencent (China's largest internet company). His opinions are regularly featured in global media: The Economist, BBC, The Financial Times, Forbes, Quartz, TechCrunch, TechinAsia, Campaign Asia, eMarketer, AdAge. Matthew's company China Channel organizes China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies. He works primarily with international businesses to help form and implement their WeChat platform strategy. Co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast produced together with China's largest English language tech media, Matthew has been based in China now for over 13+ years. His book 'Building your Business through WeChat' is due for release early this year. Matthew holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Southampton.