Updated: 2016-03-18 08:37
By Chen Yingqun and Su Qiang(China Daily Europe)
What started as a social media tool has morphed into a platform that can do virtually anything
Shayne Rochfort is an Australian who lives in Thailand, but the companion he relies on daily to survive socially and professionally is neither Australian nor Thai; it is Chinese - the phenomenally successful messaging app WeChat.
Rochfort, who has lived in the northern city of Chiang Mai for six years, started using the app in 2013 and says he has more than 2,000 contacts listed on it.
He is one of 650 million monthly active WeChat users worldwide, who have seen the transformation of what started as little more than a handy piece of software to help friends stay in touch into an indispensable tool now used to do all manner of commercial transactions and that has joined the arsenal of weapons that companies deploy to help their businesses grow.
Rochfort says WeChat has been invaluable in promoting his travel book, China to Chiang Mai, which will go on sale in China soon.
"I often use the 'People Nearby' function (of WeChat) to meet travelers in Chiang Mai," he says. "When they add me (to their list of contacts) I usually send out the food section of my book and a one-day trip planner so people know how to get around Chiang Mai."
When he first put a web link to his book on a section of WeChat called Moments, about 200 people visited the website almost immediately, he says.