Momo’s Recent Big Update Showes Its Anxiety, Not Ambition

摘要: Just recently, Momo 8.0 rolled out with special emphasis attached to video social networking and a variety of new functions are added. What are these functions? How will Momo's users respond to this update? How will the update affect user behavior? Why did Momo update this way? What does this update mean?

 (Chinese Version)

Just recently, Momo 8.0 rolled out with special emphasis attached to video social networking. In this update, a variety of new functions are added, including Quick Chat, Party Chat, Werewolf. In addition to that, functions such as Nearby, Like or Pass, and Live Streaming are moved to the home page. However, this update might instead show Momo’s great anxiety amid its transformation.

Where lies the next opportunity for success after live streaming?

To a large degree, Momo’s success owed to its transition from social networking to live streaming. Prior to the transition, the biggest problem with Momo is the low matching efficiency, as it has far more males users than females ones. As a result, many males users just gave up and left the platform.

In this case, live streaming is a perfect solution, since a female streamer can communicate with hundreds of thousands of male fans through live streaming.This is exactly something Momo was good at. Therefore, Momo soon caught up with other early entrants in the Chinese live streaming sector such as Huajiao TV and Inke TV. Although live streaming can create steady cash flow, it has a clear ceiling. Therefore, as contents on major live streaming platforms become homogenized, it’s quite tricky to maintain growth.

After Momo released its Q1 financial report, it turned its eyes on short video. However, short video and live streaming stand for two completely different product forms. Currently, the biggest effect of short videos is to improve user retention. However, Momo will have to figure out not only how to make users willing to pay for short videos, as did Kuaishou and MiaoPai, but also how to distribute and spread these high-quality short videos.

The only problem is, Momo is more of a social networking platform than a paid short video content platform for most of its users. Therefore, Momo naturally doesn’t have the genes to distribute short video contents.

It is based on this observation that I concluded short video would only help diversify its video-based social networking ecosystem, facilitate its live streaming service, but wouldn’t lead to another overnight success story.

Why the next opportunity for success may lie in real-time video social networking?

Still, why is Momo desperately looking for the next opportunity for overnight success? To an extent, it has to do with the rising difficulty to attract users. As Momo has already fully exploited its user potential when it comes to live streaming users, it will have to gain traffic from the outside. However, it’s no easy thing to do so in the mature Chinese mobile internet. Therefore, in the foreseeable future, Momo might see a slowdown of its net profit growth.

To improve users’ willingness to pay, Momo can either improve the user base of paid contents, or improve the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

“Showing off, hormone, loneliness, utility and letting off. These are the six most crucial factors to all social networking platforms’ success. As long as a social network platform can meet these six psychological needs, it has the potential to succeed. A social network platform can rise into overnight popularity if it can meet one among these six needs, but such popularity will rapidly fade away, Therefore, such platform’s valuation can reach $100 million at most. If a platform can meet two among these six needs, it can survive for a longer period of time with a valuation of at least $1 billion. If a platform can meet three needs, its valuation can reach over $ 10 billion. If a platform can meet over four needs, then its valuation is at least $ 100 billion,” Li Haoyang, founder of Anonymous Group Chat, observed.

Momo, however, has the natural advantage and potential to meet all these six needs. The only problem is how to activate its potential. Fundamentally, short video, just like photo and text, is just another form of content. The ultimate challenge for Momo remains how to improve its matching efficiency between female and male user.

Live streaming quickly grew on Momo because it met users’ real social networking needs. After all, videos seem more vivid to users than photos. Based on live streaming, Momo created another user scenario where male users can chat with female users nearby, since most male users are not active participants of live streaming.

Due to the one-to-many communication scenario of live streaming, streamers and audience are put in an unbalanced position. To a large degree, Momo is in dire need  of a new form of live streaming that can strengthen exchanges and relationship, that is, “real-time video social networking”.

In fact, Momo’s previous financial reports already demonstrated its potential in video social networking.

“Although a female streamer might only have a couple hundred audience, most of them are male users nearby. Therefore, they constitute a major part of Momo’s user base.”

However, the hard truth is that: although Momo has made some progress with its “decentralized” LBS live streaming, compared with its rival platforms, “centralized” distance live streaming remains the main revenue source.

In this case, Momo can combine live streaming with stranger communication and have users chat with each other on a one-to-one basis. In this way, not only the threshold of live streaming is lowered, but also male users become better engaged.

As a result, streamers will not only become “performers” in front of thousands of users, they can create “transaction” by simply meeting one user’s need, whether to sing a song, play a round of “Honor of Kings” or just simply chat for a while. It is probable such diversified real-time video chatting might be more suitable for Momo when it comes to consolidating social networks.

Three vital problems with Momo’s recent update

In the latest version, Momo timely attaches high importance to real-time video chatting. More specifically,

  • Quick Chat is a one-to-one real-time video chatting service. After users click the button, they will be randomly matched with another user and have a 60-second video chat with each other.
  • Party Chat, however, is a multi-user real-time video chatting service, through which users can join and leave a video chat group nearby or created by friends, similar to Houseparty.
  • Wereworlf is a popular mobile game through which users can both train their deduction ability and have a great deal of fun from “lying”, “convincing” and “misleading” other players.

Henceforth, we can come to an easy conclusion: Momo is indeed constantly strengthening its video social networking service, though it has become quite difficult to say for sure what kind of APP is the updated Momo, since it’s more alike a crude combination of various drastically different functions, including stranger communication, werewolf (game), Tinder, Houseparty and Monkey, etc.

Momo did attempt to explore its potential in all possible aspects, but it lacks a core focus. 

More specifically, there are three main problems with this update:

a. Too much water drowned the miller

When users are give one more new function, they can easily adapt to it. However, when too many new functions are added in a short time, it could heavily affect their user habit. In fact, user churn occurs most in times of a major update.

Like or Pass

Without an effective user selection mechanism, “Like or Pass” is more like a poor imitation of Tinder and Tantan. Hardly can users be recommended with other users they find attracted to.

Werewolf

The craze for Werewolf has been fading away, so it remains unknown how it could contribute to Momo’s overall strategy.

Quick Chat and Party Chat

Although these two functions are derived from Momo’s live streaming service, there’s nothing new with it, as there are already such attempts in other APPs.

b. Up with video social networking, down with users’ own update

Compared with the modular homepage, another major change is that users’ updates are hidden in the second screen. Therefore, it takes more efforts to find and acquire information. Momo did so to highlight “video” contents, but the problem is that Momo is not simply a short video or live streaming platform.

On the surface, this update might stir up users’ passion for video social networking; in practice, however, it might backfire. After all, Momo is a typical platform for asynchronous social networking. Prior to this update, communication on Momo is highly fragmented and users are not “forced” to respond immediately. This update, however, attach too much emphasis on real-time, which might improve communication efficiency, but it could also unnecessarily improve users’ pressure.

c. A vital step is missing

Still, from live streaming to real-time video social networking, Momo has embarked on a right path. However, a crucial step is missing.

The reason why “real-time video chat” seems to be a promising area is that it solve a vital problem of “asynchronous stranger social networking”, that is, truthfulness. It is known that during “asynchronous stranger social networking”, users can use beautified photos of themselves or exchange inaccurate information with others. Through real-time video chatting, however,  users can directly see each other, which paves the way for effective social networking.

However, Momo still fails to take into consideration a vital issue: the potential user scenarios. After all, against the background of Chinese cultural atmosphere, most Chinese mobile internet users are “unwilling” to  show their true selves to others, let alone strangers. This is also why some early attempts in real-time video chatting failed.

In this case, what Momo really needs to do is create more user scenarios to cater to the needs of different users.

For example, Momo can designate a function through which users can be matched with a stranger and play Honor of Kings. Other potential functions include: wake-up service, small talk, request and sing, etc. It is by a variety of user scenarios that Momo can activate stranger communication, encourage users to interact with each other, or even go beyond online social network and get to know each other offline.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Junshi Taibao. Please note the source and hyperlink when reproduce.]      

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost. 

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