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A successful example how a startup forays into the untapped middle-aged and elderly market.
How to run a business that acquires free traffic from established social platforms like WeChat?
Writer: Yan Hao
The days when user traffic could be acquired effortlessly are gone, making the ability to steer traffic from existing social media platforms a much-valued attribute.
Meipian (美篇), an app that focuses on photo & text editing, sharing, and distributes content mainly through WeChat, has recently closed a ¥43 million (around $6.6 million) Series A plus round led by Matrix Partners China, with contribution from existing investor ZhenFund.
Meipian is at the same time a utility and social app.
Launched in July 2015, it started as a photo and text editing app that allowed users to include up to 100 photos into a single “postable” article (as opposed to only nine on China’s mainstream social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo). With a click, users can share the articles on social networking platforms.
Having amassed large amounts of user-generated content, Meipian introduced a community section that supports the sharing of photos and texts and has since attracted users including shutterbugs as well as travel and literary enthusiasts.
Riding on the wave of WeChat
As of today, Meipian’s users have amounted to nearly 50 million in total, who have created altogether 80 million articles and uploaded 1.9 billion pictures. Its monthly unique visitors have reached 150 million.
It’s worth noting that more than 90% of the views generated by contents made on Meipian were from WeChat, with the number of daily shares averaging 1 million. This shows its strong dependence on WeChat, but it’s also an evidence that Meipian is taking full advantage of social networking platforms to acquire free traffic.
Meipian launched a mini program version of its product towards the end of this September, which garnered over 10 million users in as short as 40 days.
By rolling out a mini program version of its product, Meipian has significantly reduced its user acquisition cost.
Only 10% people who install and register with Meipian’s app become actual app users, according to Tang Qi, Meipian’s founder, but since mini programs can be opened up simply by long pressing on a QR code, the conversion rate for Meipian’s mini program has increased fivefold to 50%.
Targeting middle-aged users
Meipian stands out by user demographics as well.
Meipian’s user group consists mainly of people aged 30 to 60 and who work at such places as government agencies, public institutions and educational institutions, the segment of the population last targeted by the internet industry.
Specifically, Meipian targets the economically well-off middle-aged people who have plenty of leisure time and have a desire to express themselves.
At a time when the young’s attention is occupied by all sorts of fancy products, the focus of the internet sector is increasingly shifting to the middle-aged and elderly market, which remains largely untapped.
Meipian is currently generating over 5 million in revenue a month, 50% of which is from tipping by viewers and the rest from e-commerce and advertising.
One of the main revenue contributors is its printing service, which offers users the option of turning their digital articles into printed brochures. The service generated over ￥1 million (around $153,660) in daily sales for Meipian in this year’s double 11 and double 12 e-commerce shopping festivals.
Constraint and Ultimate Goal
While people who use Meipian to create content abound, few consume the content, mainly because most of the articles created on Meipian circulate in the creators’ private circles rather than publicly on platforms like Meipian. This has become the main obstacle keeping Meipian from transforming from a utility app into a social interaction-driven software.
It’s learned that Meipian will use the new financing to expand its team and step up marketing to boost its market share. It will also invest more to build its community section.
Tang hopes that users can find what they are interested in on Meipian and join interest-based communities that allow them to meet and interact with strangers who share their interests. In the ideal scenario, their interaction is expanded from online to offline and content is generated continuously. The ultimate goal is to build a comprehensive, self-sustaining ecosystem.
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