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How Webot Could Help 20 Million Content Creators Gain More Financial Freedom


On WeChat, people build worlds and tell stories 

Contrary to what many assume, WeChat is more than “just another messaging app”. Users can also trade with each other, play games and publish stories, for example. 

It is a giant ecosystem where a huge amount of transactions take place each day. In Q4 2019, WeChat exceeded 1 billion daily transactions for commercial payments, had over 800 million monthly active users, and worked with 50 million monthly active merchants[1].  

 “Connect your brand to a billion users”

With a tagline “Connect your brand to a billion users”, the WeChat Official Accounts Platform in the WeChat ecosystem is considered by many the go-to platform for branding and marketing in China in 2021. 

Registered individuals and organizations enjoy easy interaction with their audiences in various ways, including sharing feeds, posting stories or providing unique services.

As of July 2020, more than 20 million official accounts have been registered. In the same year, the number of monthly active users of WeChat app surpassed 1.2 billion[2][3].

Who are the content creators on official accounts?

Individuals and organizations.

For example, a bakery posts the latest promotional materials, aiming to attract more local customers; a pop star posts stories, shares behind-the-scenes photos and answers frequently asked questions from fans; a mother of two shares her own tips on how to deal with babies and kids of various ages.  

How do creators monetize their content?

Depending on the type of account one has, a content creator generates income in various ways, including

  • Tips from readers
  • Advertising revenue
  • Selling products or services 
  • Membership fees for niche WeChat groups

Current problem: good content doesn’t translate into cash

Many content creators, especially the individuals who specialize in creating niche contents, don’t get paid very well. Many of them produce good content, but they are not rewarded with cash. 

Why is this happening?

One fundamental reason that’s rarely brought up is the tipping mechanism on WeChat.

This is water

To analyze and solve a problem, first we need to phrase it correctly. So perhaps instead of “Why aren’t people generous with tips?” We should be asking “why aren’t people tipping?” Readers are not the root of the problem. Most of them are good fellows who enjoy tipping good services whenever possible. 

So what is the real problem? 

People don’t see it even when it is right in front of them each time they tip. It’s like water - something that fish never pay attention to even though they swim in it.

So what is the water? 

The minimum amount people can tip.

A distorted tipping market

When it comes to tipping, 1 Yuan is the minimum amount on virtually all Chinese mobile apps and websites. 

On WeChat, tips have to be more than 1 Yuan.

So what is the big deal? Some might argue that the retail price of a can of coke is only 3 Yuan, so surely an average Joe would tip 1 Yuan(= $0.15) without a second thought?

We disagree. 

1 Yuan represents a concept in economics known as a price floor. For example, minimum wage is a price floor in labor markets. In a market where  intervention is far from necessary, a minimum amount causes harm to both the producers and consumers. 

In the case of tipping as a market behavior, 1 Yuan destroys the market mechanism of tipping on WeChat. Content creators suffer because they no longer receive the right message from the invisible hand, such as what and how much to produce. Readers suffer too when their favorite authors are too poor to continue doing what they love and instead have to apply for a “real job”. 

1 Yuan? Still a lot.

Another reason that content creators don’t get paid lies with the threshold amount itself. Previously we mentioned that a can of coke costs 3 Yuan. People might assume that 1 Yuan is a tiny amount. Well, it’s not. 

In 2019, the national medium disposable income per capita was 26523 Yuan, that is, 2210.25 Yuan per month. The average expenditure in the category of “education, culture and entertainment” was 2513 Yuan[4]. 

According to statistics from 2019, the majority of WeChat users subscribed to 0 to 30 official accounts, and they spent 0 to 60 minutes reading feeds from those accounts. A simple calculation would give us estimations of 15 as the mean number of accounts, and 23 minutes as the mean duration users would spend each day consuming their feeds[5]. 

If Alice, as a typical user, tips one article the minimum amount, 1 Yuan, per day. Each month she spends 30 Yuan on tips.

Therefore, Alice would tip away 1.36% of her disposable income, or 14% of her total budget on education, culture and entertainment

That is a lot. 

The good news is a solution already exists and it works.


How Webot revolutionizes tipping

Real, no BS micropayments

Webot enables real micropayments, and everything changes. 

546 Satoshis is worth roughly 0.007 Yuan(= $0.0011) .

Currently the smallest payment is 546 Satoshis, which is about 0.007 Yuan(= $0.0011) on January 17, 2021. 

Hi Webot! Please take my money.

See how I tipped Webot 546 Satoshis in one short message? My grandmother could easily pull this off.

Less is more 

Let’s do some math.

Say instead of tipping one author 1 Yuan per day, now Alice tips 10 authors, 0.01 Yuan each. Her monthly spending on tips would amount to 3 Yuan only. A can of coke.

Meanwhile, 10 times the original amount of authors get tipped. When tipping gets cheap enough, more people will be willing to tip. As a result, the content creators would earn more tips in total and on average.

Money is the message

When the price floor is set to 0.01 Yuan(and it’s not even the lowest possible amount), the tipping market is close to being free from distortion. 

This way, tips would be a true reflection of how well content creators are keeping up with market demands -- with what readers want. People would be incentivized to create better contents, knowing that the tips would be directly correlated with quality of content. 

It’s meritocratic . It’s a win-win. 

Soon enough there will come a day when people take micropayments as “the new norm”, and future generations will be amazed at how inefficient tipping once was. 

Stay tuned for the next article where we’ll discuss how Webot helps better manage WeChat groups. 


A special thanks to Liam Chai, the editor who helped made this article more human-friendly. 

Make Liam richer: liam@moneybutton.com 


References

  1. 2020. Tencent Holdings Limited 2019 Annual Report. [online] Available at: <https://static.www.tencent.com/uploads/2020/04/02/ed18b0a8465d8bb733e338a1abe76b73.pdf> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
  2. cnBeta.COM. 2021. 微信宣布2000万公众号“转正成功” - Tencent Wechat 腾讯微信 - Cnbeta.COM. [online] Available at: <https://www.cnbeta.com/articles/tech/999505.htm> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
  3. Statista. 2021. Wechat: Active Users Worldwide | Statista. [online] Available at: <https://www.statista.com/statistics/255778/number-of-active-wechat-messenger-accounts/> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
  4. Stats.gov.cn. 2021. 2019年居民收入和消费支出情况. [online] Available at: <http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/zxfb/202001/t20200117_1723396.html> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
  5. Sohu.com. 2021. 数据报告|超七成微信用户的公众号关注数量少于20个_兴趣. [online] Available at: <https://www.sohu.com/a/305492961_260616> [Accessed 28 January 2021].
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