Several months ago articles and public accounts on WeChat became searchable on Tencent-backed Sogou Search. Now the Sogou-WeChat Search is about to launch version 2.0 that has added article recommendations, trending topics, keyword-based subscription, among other new offerings.
Unlike the current version of the Sogou-WeChat Search that shows nothing before you type in any search queries, the version 2.0 has a homepage that displays articles handpicked by curators and more that are automatically categorized on the left side.
On the right side there are the most searched queries which will return relevant articles, and trending topics for users to subscribe to.
The Homepage of Sogou-WeChat Search 2.0 (image credit: Sjydhlw)
The aforementioned new features are quite like those on Baidu News, a news aggregation and recommendation service run by the China’s largest search engine. The major difference between the two is Baidu’s contents are indexed from Chinese news sites across the Web while Sogou’s are from the WeChat platform where WeChat public account owners have to re-publish text, images and other formats of content through the WeChat publishing system.
Although the WeChat publishing system is terrible to use (based on my own experience), the Chinese news organizations or content providers in general are very much encouraged, even compelled, to republish their existing content for their WeChat audiences.
The huge user base WeChat has had is a major driver. Others driving forces include (1) the WeChat publishing system offers a data analysis service, and (2) WeChat makes sharing a webpage directly onto Moments, the in-app sharing platform, inconvenient.
The new edition of the Sogou-WeChat search service has another big change that must make it more encouraging for content providers: now the articles can be shared to Tencent QQ IM contacts or groups, or China’s leading micro-blogging service Weibo.
It’s obvious that WeChat doesn’t want to be just a communication tool but a platform for content and beyond. Now users can scan the QR codes shown in the Sogou-WeChat search results to follow the WeChat public accounts directly. It’s possible that you’ll be able to scan a QR code to make purchases with WeChat Payment on a Sogou-WeChat search result page. But to me it always feels WeChat is building a walled garden. At least it’s a waste of time for content contributors to re-publish their articles that have existed somewhere else on the Web.