ByteDance unveils group chat function in Douyin to take on WeChat

Douyin, whose equivalent TikTok has found immense popularity beyond the Chinese mainland, has 320 million daily active users.

Photo: Stock.tutong.com

ByteDance, which is the app factory behind hits like news aggregator Jinri Toutiao as well as short video platform Douyin (and overseas equivalent TikTok), is eager to break out of its mould. As it builds a search engine to rival Baidu, the company is also taking on Tencent’s ubiquitous WeChat app by developing a group chat function in Douyin, 36Kr reports.

ByteDance aims to connect Douyin users with each other; normally, those viewing short videos on the platform often have no connection with each other.

This is ByteDance’s third attempt this year to find a foothold in the social messaging sector. This time, it is building upon Douyin’s 320 million daily active users in the Chinese mainland.

In the new chat feature, any Douyin user who has more than two friends with accounts on the short video app can start a chat group to share text, images, audio clips, and videos.

By offering an extra channel to socialize, Douyin’s new functionality may keep its users in the app for longer periods and may even serve as a tool for current users to invite more of their friends to join Douyin.

Group chats are an integral part of WeChat. Most users are part of multiple channels, such as alumni groups, family groups, and various work-related groups. WeChat had 947 million monthly active users in April according to data of QuestMobile, making it the most popular app in China.

In January, ByteDance launched a stand-alone video-based social messaging app called Duoshan, which Tencent tried to stifle from the get-go by blocking links to Duoshan on WeChat and barring the competing app from its app distribution platform Yingyongbao. Duoshan has yet to gain noticeable popularity.

In May, ByteDance unveiled a standalone social messaging app called Feiliao. In July, it was removed from Apple’s App Store in China.

36Kr is the parent company of KrASIA.