WeChat, the world’s second most popular messaging app after WhatsApp and No 1 in China, is hoping to gain more of the global market, recruiting celebrity sports stars to tempt more users.
Out of nearly 400m registered WeChat users, just 70m are based outside of China. The mobile messaging app claims 195m monthly active users compared to WhatsApp’s 250m, and its focus now is on expanding its reach in south-east Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
The 400m-user milestone is expected to be reached soon with WeChat signing up 30m new users outside China in the past three months.
To make a name for itself elsewhere, WeChat recruited top footballer Lionel Messi for its new global ad campaign and US basketball star Lebron James has already been signed up to the service. With these sports stars on board, WeChat users will be able to follow and connect with them, much like celebrities engage with fans on Twitter or Instagram.
Some global brands have also jumped on the service to connect with consumers, including Nike and Starbucks.
As well as following celebrities, WeChat also lets users find friends nearby, share a content feed with all contacts, create their own emoticons, and even communicate with people they don’t already know. All of this on top of its free text, voice, photo and video messaging, and voice and video calls give users an all-round communications app that also behaves a bit like a social network.
The Next Web reports that WeChat is also working on adding mobile payments and a gaming platform to its service.
WeChat is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry – it even has Symbian covered – and a web-based platform.