Will Red Packets Destroy Social-Network Apps?

摘要: The red packet game, a function on social apps first launched in 2014 in China by local Internet giants, has eventually become an everyday entertainment for many social app users. Up till this point this new game has evolved to the point where new games have been brought forth. However, not every one of those games is always a lasting pleasant experience. Some games even cause users to feel disturbed and irritated on social apps. Subsequently, many start to wonder if the red packets are gradually poisoning social apps and will eventually kill them.

During the Spring Festival in 2014, WeChat successfully promoted its new feature, the Red Packet, which erupted an incredible craze for red packet function among both users and Internet companies. In just short two years, we have experienced the Red Envelope war and seen red packets quickly become popular on multiple major Internet platforms in the country. This year many brands took it further by stuffing their coupons and discounts into digital red packets to promote their merchandise. If we also count in red packet activities that aren’t so formal, then it’s fair to say that this year over one thousand companies have used this new trend to their own advantage to achieve commercial goals.

Red packet games are backed by social apps. Users on social apps, WeChat for example, can send digital red packets filled with digital cash to friends or receive them. As the game evolves and the red packet system continues to mature, users are also becoming picky. A number of brands sent out red packets as a promotion campaign to stimulate sales, but very few of them were successful. The worst part is, the quality of red packet games and the diverse participants generate conflicts and bad experience, which pushes some users away from the social apps they are using. In this case, it’s natural for people to start wondering if these red packets are poisoning social apps.

To answer this question, first we need to know why red packets are beginning to disturb people and what issues red packets have caused are so annoying that some users decide to quit the app.

Its nature of gambling: Red packet games on social apps are usually gambling at their nature. And on social apps these games can go viral very easily. All those entertaining games can magnify people’s very weakness, and that is the thirst to gamble. It’s exceptionally tempting when real cash is involved. Whether it’s brands that aim for business goals or individuals that just simply enjoy gambling, they are all tempted to participate in red packet games since they are seemingly not of out line. Once these games become an unstoppable trend, social apps will be facing devastating challenges.

Deceiving marketing strategies: Nowadays there is no doubt that red packet has become a frequently-used marketing strategies for businesses. Many brands put coupons in red packets and spread them out to consumers, which is more fun for consumers and lowers the marketing cost for businesses. The problem of such behavior is that some red packet campaigns are badly designed and therefore irritate users and some just make users feel like they are being tricked since the campaigns could be very confusing, or let’s say, deceiving. There are also some merchants just purely want to get certain information from the users through red packet campaigns, thinking that they can easily trick the users without them noticing. Such issues inevitably bring bad experience to the users, and therefore some just blame it on the social apps.

Unreasonable social networking based on red packets: I personally have experienced this kind of things in a WeChat group, where whenever somebody needs people to vote or repost something for them, he or she will just give a red packet for the favor. The tranquil group in which people rarely speak would then be immediately become active and everyone would be like sharks ripping through the “paper” of the red packet. If a social app relies on red packets to keep users motivated in using the platform, then the overly commercialization would do great harm to the sustainability of the platform.

What’s more, there is a completely opposite situation. Some users are tired of the social behaviors on social apps or even in real life, and subsequently turn to red packet games. For example, people are complaining about spending too much time and energy on WeChat and for that they become isolated in real life. Some even said to have issues with social phobia and interpersonal relationship. These complaints and frustration can be projected on red packets. However, the core problem here comes from the flaws of social apps instead of red packets.

Red packets games are not free, they in fact cost a lot. These seemingly simple games are empowered by complicated algorithm and processing flow. Social apps provide the platform and many other resources for red packet games to gain momentum. And through these games many of them can maintain and even boost a complex and gigantic social network. Additionally, business opportunities are also created. Thus, social apps will need to try their best to prevent the negative sides of red packet games from growing and try to fix those issues occurred in red packet games, stopping red packets from becoming lethal poison for social apps.

The first thing social apps should do is enhance their management on red packet games so as to prevent or eliminate harmful red packet games. Nowadays’ red packet games are empowered by different platforms that give them unique growing directions. On different platforms different new rules and system of red packet games could be created. Platform providers should therefore enhance their surveillance on those games and participants and seek for signs of gambling or fraud. If the system spots any abnormal activity, the platform should stop those games and warn the participants.

Furthermore, platform providers can improve red packets in the aspect of entertainment and commercial development through innovation. Red packets are a tool, which businesses use for different reasons. In 2014, WeChat launched its red packet feature to promote WeChat Payment. Later new features like Shake and Festival Packet etc. were introduced to users, which was a huge success for WeChat. Last year, Alibaba came up with new features like password red packets as a red packet promotion campaign while this year it cooperated with the Spring Festival Gala to promote the platform itself and boost its competitiveness on social networking. Other players on the other hand used red packets to boost sales as well as to amass more users. All these show that red packets prove to be useful if used in a correct way.

Finally, adjusting the positioning of red packets on social apps is also essential. Platform providers need to find ways to boost the social network they have and gain more growing space. A new user in a group could become friends with a lot of people using just a few red packets while a few red packets could also help users in the group reconnect with each other. Red packet games can be just a way to break the ice and draw everyone out. Red packets in other words are like social stimulus. However, social app providers should know that red packets are not some magical potion that can fix everything. Besides red packets, fresh content is what’s needed to maintain the stability and activeness of the social network.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Ning Yu, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.




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