Summary of Why TikTok Succeeded Outside China and WeChat Didn’t

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Why TikTok Succeeded Outside China and WeChat Didn’t summary
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Short-video app TikTok and social media app WeChat belong to Chinese companies Bytedance and Tencent, respectively. Both apps enjoy immense popularity at home in China and entered markets abroad with high ambitions. TikTok has taken a number of foreign markets by a storm. The number of users it attracted in the United States has the US government worried about the amount of US customer data that TikTok collects. Meanwhile, WeChat – the most widely used app in China – has made limited headway in other countries. Analyst Huang Yuankai of data research blog DT Caijing investigates why one app succeeded globally while the other one didn’t.

About the Author

Huang Yuankai is an analyst and writer for DT Caijing, a data research blog created by business media platform China Business Network. 



Short-video app TikTok has done much better in foreign markets than social media app WeChat.

In 2019, short-video app TikTok – created by Chinese company Bytedance – was among the 10 most downloaded apps in 16 countries. But Chinese social media app WeChat only made the top 10 in one foreign country. WeChat’s disappointing performance abroad isn’t for lack of trying. Tencent, the Chinese Internet company that created WeChat, has reportedly budgeted as much as ¥2 billion ($285 million) to WeChat’s internationalization. And yet, in most foreign markets, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram continue to dominate social media and instant messaging. 

In China, WeChat's and TikTok’s paths to success have some similarities. Tencent launched WeChat two years after the similar app WhatsApp became popular in the West; Bytedance published TikTok approximately two years after the comparable app took off in the US market. Both companies were initially decried as copycats. Both achieved widespread market saturation within a short time before expanding into markets abroad.

Moving one’s social network to a new app...

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