WeChat launches first ‘618’ Live Streaming Festival, rushing into China’s e-commerce battle

China’s super instant messaging app owned by tech giant Tencent has beefed up efforts in gaining a slice of China’s e-commerce phenomena by launching the first ‘618’ Live Streaming Festival on its video arm WeChat Video Channels, which is dedicated to the upcoming mid-year shopping season on 18 June, according to the Chinese technology media outlet IT Home on 6 June.


The initiative, which is live from 31 May to 18 June, introduces four measures that are designed to help online merchants gain more public traffic through various means. Retailers who reach the sales threshold of 10,000 RMB ($1,506) through one live stream event are eligible for traffic rewards with the more sales achieved per session, the more traffic earned, therefore, enhancing online exposure for future live streams.

The platform also doubles down incentives for online retailers to guide audiences to prebook live sessions. Merchants who have secured bookings from a minimum of 50 existing followers for their live streaming events on WeChat Video Channels can get a “traffic top-up coupon”, which can be converted into traffic for channel accounts according to a ratio calculated based on the actual attendance of those prebooked.

It is understood that hosts can now create up to 100 notices at one time, trailering their upcoming live streaming events, enabling wider publicity of brands’ online activities, and allowing a more effective event promotion.

Meanwhile, users including retailers and KOLs can participate by publishing recommendation-based content (also known as “Zhong Cao” (Planting Grass) in Chinese) that is also attached to a future live streaming event under the hashtag “618 Video Channels Live Stream Festival”. Those who are top-ranked will have the opportunity to gain traffic rewards between 100,000 and 300,000 views, as per the official WeChat Video Channels.

In addition, the platform also introduces “recommendations” on its discovery page and displays on the online event’s main page for those “outstanding” merchants. Although most of the reward requirements seem to be low-bar, independent or small-sized merchants have been cautioned that they may not benefit from these measures as much as big brands who have accumulated a certain amount of followers on the platform, which is relatively premature compared to traditional e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall, and short video experts such as Chinese TikTok Douyin and Kuaishou. These are long-time players in the e-commerce battleground, and therefore, already have an established ecosystem that is more inclusive for small players. 


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