Steve Tappin writes on his LinkedIn blog about Tencent’s charge to overtake Facebook.

Tencent has 818 million active users on its chat client QQ and 236 million active users on its messaging app WeChat.

The surge in popularity of WeChat is not surprising. It has many features and it encourages social connection.

WeChat has neatly fused together the open approach of social networks such as Twitter, where anyone can follow anybody, and more closed networks such as Facebook, which rely on mutual friend connections. It’s growing virally through social connection and not just social media.

Here are some features that set it apart from the competition.

  • Walkie-talkie mode – a push to talk feature to send voice messages
  • People nearby – finding people nearby who allow themselves to be discovered
  • Shake – connect to any users in the world who shake their phone at the same time
  • User ID – your account is not tied to the phone number so you can chat on another device by signing into your user ID

Tencent has also engaged stars, such as Lionel Messi and LeBron James, as brand ambassadors to help push the app to the international market.