Weixin is pretty savvy; I want one and you will too.

 

Social Media Xonnection (green)If reading the words, “…the power of Weixin was that it was mobile, like a “portable organ” that unlike a PC is always with the user.” does not get your attention then I think we are done here.

If you are still with me you have either heard of the social media platform Weixin and are curious for my highly opinionated take or you misunderstood and think you can get an organ here. Fingers crossed it’s not the latter.
     Those “organ words” were uttered by Ma Huateng, Tencent’s chief executive and co-founder (Tecent is responsible for creating Weixin). He believed that Weixin saved the future of Tencent by being what people want – an all-in-one platform. Weixin grew from need and not the need of the people so much as a need for Tencent to remain relevant. In 2010 the head of Tencent’s research and development assembled a team to work on the next new thing. The inspiration was Kik messenger which Huateng feared would consume the market share and force Tencent into a black hole (my words, not his, I am paraphrasing here). Three months passed and Tencent released Weixin. Weixin was the response to the Kik messenger application but it was not just a response it was the biggest one-up, I’ll see your bet and raise you EVER! Poker Chips
     Weixin can literally do it all. Do not take my word for it, a cosmetics marketer in Shanghai claims to spend at least six hours a day on the ap and Zhang Shoufeng, a food and beverage sales woman was quoted here (a pretty decent article on Weixin) saying that she uses Weixin everyday. She said that everyone from friends and co-workers to her boss is on the ap. They chat about what to do, where to go and even discuss locations for work meetings. That is not all the application can do – the company quickly forged ahead to add features allowing users to book flight, hotels and taxis without ever having to leave the application.
     The company also found ways to connect with its users (predominantly in Asia) by incorporating traditions held in their culture. They have what is called “The Red Envelope” where users can present money to their friends and family. It mixes a tradition of giving money during the holidays with the fun of a lottery game. The user sends a set amount of money (for example $50.00) to be distributed among a predetermined group but no one knows how much will go to who until they open their “envelope”.  As of 2014 5 million people had participated sending nearly 20 million in cash. Weixin (which I should have prefaced is pronounced way-shin) is said to be a mix of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and eBay making all the users needs easy to access in one place.
     I hate to be a downer and ask out what feels like the obvious question but here I go – how successful would Weixin have been if they had not shut out YouTube and Facebook (among others)? DeadpoolA country that shuts out connection to the rest of the world and filters what it’s people see, do and how they interact may not have the same obstacles to contend with. They had one or two players to get ahead of because others are not allowed in, so to speak. There is even a mainland version (Weixin) and a version for people outside of that region (WeChat). They are not hosted on the same servers and will likely not connect you with people in China, keeping out noise  from the “outside” (another of my snarky paraphrasing moments).
     Weixin is solid and it is smart. If you want to appeal to the masses and keep their attention you have to create a need. There are other platforms even in China that were being used. Weixin pulled in the best of many platforms and made something that people not only wanted but really needed to function more efficiently. By incorporating features like the Red Envelope Campaign they personalized their offering. I think this was also a way to pull in more users. If the daily features (chatting, travel etc.) did not grab you then the Red Envelope Campaign would. Once there then Weixin had a hook in it’s users, so to speak. I personally had not heard of WeChat but if they can find a hook that speaks to different generations, regions (West Coast, North East  in the North America) or interests then I think there is a space for this. It would be nice to have everything in one spot. We are settling for everything being on the phone but imagine one “master” location. Wal-Mart tried it right – they started off as a store with a little eatery (you remember you could get microwaved fries and sit in a booth on display for other shoppers) – if you forgot it was weird and not worth remembering. It changed though, at some point they offered picture taking – like Sears, a Salon was added, then you could get your nails done – a pharmacy and now groceries. It has morphed into a one stop shop. Wal-Mart evolved. I am not certain how they are doing now (I hear their less than employee centric ways have backfired a smidge) but you get the point. If you can go one place and all (or most) of you needs are met why would you need to go anywhere else?
P.S. You wouldn’t.

 

Warby Parker: The Zappos of Glasses

Pick one (and yes, you have to pick one); dental appointment for a filling (there is no telling how close the cavity is to the nerve), step on a lego (you will walk with the confidence of Connor McGregor and will step down full force) or go to the mall on a Saturday afternoon to try on prescription glasses.

If you are like me your internal monologue went something like this;

  1. At the dentist I would get to lay down and have novocaine.
  2. Connor McGregor?! I love the UFC – but a lego, ah I would do it – if I were Connor I wouldn’t even feel the lego.
  3. *in a whiny pathetic voice* Glasses? Seriously? Can I just get lasik? The mall, where lots of people with sticky fingers, tired whiny children and commingled food court smells come together to ruin your perfectly good weekend? I don’t even like brushing my teeth in a mirror and I might have to be subject to looking not only at myself but the reflection of the ill equipped sales associate that stares at me while they ask for the 18th time if they can help me? My inside voice says to them, “No. No you cannot help me. When I finally give-up and pick the first pair I tried on an hour and half ago it is going to take everything in me not to yank the keyboard that you are hen pecking on and fill in my name and address for you. So, no, I doubt you can help me.”

Almost two years ago I left my glasses in the pocket of a jacket and threw it in the washing machine. They have had a weird film on them since then. I have insurance and I live near a Lenscrafters, several eye doctors, a WalMart and a Sears but I just did not want to deal with getting new glasses. I have a pretty big head and it is just not fun to go and try to decide what looks good. If you go alone you will have to rely on a sales associate to tell you and their job is to sell so… ya, I dealt with the weird film. Until tonight.

Tonight I went rogue and I ordered  glasses from Warby Parker. In five days I will have several pairs of glasses arrive at my house. I will be able to try them with different outfits, with my hair up, my hair down, with makeup or without and decide on my own – with no strangers looking on.

Big head? No problem. There’s a quiz for that. It’s like five questions and helps narrow down the search. I did not have to pay for these and as long as I return them (postage is already paid) – no charge.

I did a little recon and you know what I found? I found a company that feels the way I feel – maybe a little less ginger anger but the sentiment is the same. Glasses- ain’t nobody got time for that!

aint

Warby Parker does not have the largest following on social media. They have less than 400k followers on Instagram and just over 711k on Facebook, but their followers are engaging. If you search through their Instagram you will find that many of the pictures they have are from their loyal customers- including some canines sporting WPs.

Warby Parker has even been known to feature some user content in postings. Once I placed my “try at home” order I was encouraged to send pictures with the hashtag #warbyhometryon and share my thoughts. These posts that their followers share are not your run of the mill selfies either. People are showing off their artistic, photography and filtering skills. Warby Parker is in essence outsourcing their marketing to their customers and their customers are delivering.

I found myself getting wrapped up in the conversations on their Facebook page too. There is a mix of happy people and some not so happy campers. Warby responds to them all. They have created a place where their customers can go and ask questions about where products are made, what to do with damaged merchandise and when they will add new products or enhancements. Customers do not have to find FAQs on a website or call customer service – Warby Parker comes to them. Somethings cannot be handled on the company’s Facebook page but they are not ignoring the hard questions – they are happening right there for all to see. I think that’s pretty cool.

If you are questioning what to expect or what would happen if things went awry – just jump onto their Facebook page and you will see for yourself how much they are loved and even when something happens Warby is there to address it and get it right. If their open approach and awesome pricing is not enough how about their commitment to eye care for everyone? For every pair sold a pair is donated. Their story is on their website and a quick link to view it is included in their emails (they are so crafty). They have donated 500,000 pairs todate. Consumers are becoming more savvy and more consciousness. Warby Parker is aware of this and their give back initiative gives them an edge. It also begs the question, if Warby Parker can sell a pair of glasses for a fraction of the price of other designers and donate a pair, why aren’t the other guys/gals?

I have never been one to post and tag companies but depending on what I find in my #warbyhometryon package I just might jump on the bandwagon. Who knows, maybe my specs could be next on WPs feed and for a moment I too could be Instagram famous.