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Bullet Messenger and TikTok bring new challenges to WeChat

By ESC Editorial Team, over 5 years ago Business
Bullet Messenger and TikTok bring new challenges to WeChat

Duoshan, a TikTok-oriented short-video social app 

On January 15th, 2019, ByteDance, owner of TikTok and the world’s most valuable start-up, unveiled a video-based social messaging app called Duoshan. It aims to build a strong relationship and interaction between TikTok users, as it only requires a TikTok account to log in. It allows users to send short-lived videos, GIFs, and images to each other, and even search directly for keywords in the chat box to send stickers. 

Besides, it has integrated some features that make it unique among the crowded social media market in China. For example:

  •     • Users can send video digital red packets, and the users can see the video you created while opening the packets.
  •     • It does not support public “Like” and “Comment”.
  •     • User can post a video clip that is visible only 72 hours after submission. This is similar to the Instagram story.
  •     • Strangers will not be able to see your “story” and can not send you more than three messages.

ByteDance’s attempt to launch Duoshan is a bit similar to Facebook which created an independent app - Messenger - as the number of private messages among users had increased dramatically. ByteDance expects TikTok’s social relationship to be transferred to another stand-alone app to encourage young users to talk and chat. Although the CEO of Toutiao, the news aggregation unit of ByteDance, said that the goal of Duoshan was different from WeChat, namely to build a network based on the contact list, there is no doubt that this still challenges the social dominance of Tencent in China. Since the rise of Douyin last year, there is fierce competition between the two companies in the short-video field.

Bullet Messenger has been renamed Liaotianbao

The same day, another piece of news came in: Bullet Messenger which had been silenced in recent months has been updated and renamed “Liaotianbao”, which can be literally translated as “Benefit from Chatting”. It displays the new feature added in the updated version– chat to get coins.

The new version divides your contacts into three categories, Close friends, Star friends (who are very special or close to you, so you can mark them with an asterisk to make them easier to find), and Unfamiliar friends. The grouping decides who can see the shared posts, videos, and images. At the bottom of the home page are Chat, Circle (where you can send and view the posts just like WeChat’s Moment), and Good Stuff, which provides Pinduoduo products, and Coins.

According to the introduction to the new product version, users can receive virtual coins through several kinds of actions in the app, such as chatting with friends, inviting new friends to register, publishing and commenting on posts on Circle, reading news from UC or shopping on Pinduoduo through the Good Staff section. Sending every two sentences will earn you 10 coins, and 100 coins equal RMB 0.05. In other words, you can get RMB 30 if you have chatted over 120,000 times on this app.

It is indeed an innovative approach to attract users and increase their engagement by sharing the revenue monetised by the traffic. But the revenue will be influenced by how much traffic “Liaotianbao” generated for its partners. 

By the next day, “Liaotianbao” had jumped from 130th in the Chinese App Store to 22nd place. Although Bullet Messenger ranked No.1 of the most downloaded free social media apps in the Apple Store for three days in a row, the number of daily active user has dropped dramatically from 1.1 million to 400 thousand by November 2018. 

The functions of social media apps always focus on “friends”. People only use a messaging app when many of their friends use it at the same time.Whether it is to improve the efficiency of communication or motivating users’ participation with rewards, Bullet Messenger has been making efforts to separate users from WeChat. But to change the daily usage habits of 1 billion users, it will be a tough battle for any new social networking products.

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