FIMS Publications

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Book Chapter

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WeChat is a popular Chinese social media platform that emphasizes mobile internet services rather than PC internet services. What further distinguishes WeChat from other social media sites is its multipurpose platform, which integrates a range of applications and features. With its large and diverse user base, vast amounts of user-generated content, and increasing global reach, WeChat provides unique opportunities for researchers to examine Chinese society relying on new data sources that can enhance or even substitute traditional data collection methods such as surveys. WeChat can also provide insights into new digital phenomena including social movements, online groups, propaganda, and e-governance. This chapter aims to serve as a guide for scholars who are interested in conducting either a quantitative or qualitative study of WeChat. First, we briefly overview the history of WeChat, the role of state regulation in WeChat’s development, WeChat’s various features, and the adoption and use of WeChat. Next, we provide a roadmap to the type of scholarship investigating WeChat that has been completed to date to demonstrate both what the pressing research questions are as well as what research gaps need further attention. We then review some of the frequently used methods and discuss challenges and opportunities. We conclude the paper with a summary of best practices on data collection, addressing visual data, and handling relationships between participants and researchers for WeChat scholarship.

Citation of this paper:

Zhang, J., & Quan-Haase, A. WeChat. In A. Quan-Haase & L. Sloan (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods (2nd ed., pp. 598-613). London: Sage.

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