WeChat’s Change Of Mind: Why Did It Add “Like” Back?

What Happened:

Since 2012, for brands that have a presence in China, WeChat articles have become an ubiquitous tool to engage with potential customers.

But the super app decided to take away “Like” at the bottom of articles last August and replaced it with “Wow,” which pushes the articles to a separate section called “Top Stories” (看一看). The section includes two tabs: “Your Friends Are Reading” and AI-driven “Select.” As of this week, WeChat’s 1.2 billion monthly active users can once again see “Like” next to “Wow,” as well as a new “Share” button, all within the same swipe.

The latest WeChat edition lets users share, like or recommend articles to their WeChat friends. Photo: Screenshots

Adding it back makes sense, said Regional Account Director Yangyan Luo at UK-based digital marketing agency Croud. “WeChat created ‘Wow’ to build a content distribution system because they wanted more people to read articles, so in theory, the articles would get more impressions,” she said. But users prefer to use “Like” because it’s a universal concept that’s also seen on other platforms like Weibo, Zhihu, and Douyin, she added.    

Jing Take:

Creating a new feature, or removing a popular feature, on an established social platform is always a risky move, as WeChat discovered. It took WeChat almost a year to realize that their massive user-base loved the “Like” button. It now finds going with the flow easier than creating its own rules.  

From the users’ perspective, clicking “Wow” might carry more emotional baggage than “Like” because a prompt will follow to ask you to write a comment, and then your friends and families will know what you are reading. For brands, however, bringing back the “Like” button helps them better measure engagement, though they need to stay alert with fake “Likes” while working with KOLs or MCNs, which remains a problem on any platform.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.