WeChat arrives in the Philippines

In addition to "likes", "tweets" and "pins," the Philippines can now also "shake" and "look around" as it welcomes its newest social media fix.

Tencent, China's largest internet company, has officially launched its hit mobile messaging application WeChat in the Philippines yesterday, along with celebrity ambassadors Iya Villania and Drew Arellano (pictured).

The company already began its marketing push last week with a 30-second TVC featuring the ambassadors demonstrating the features of the app. At the launch, Tencent showed the press another two TV spots that will hit the airwaves in the coming weeks.

Poshu Yeung, vice president of International Business at Tencent, said they are currently focusing on building its user base in a country.  he said that on-ground events, roadshows and print ads, among others, are already in the pipeline.

"The Philippines is a very important market for WeChat in Southeast Asia. In a country dubbed "the texting capital of the world," WeChat is destined for the spotlight," he said in a statement.

China has long dominated WeChat since its launch in 2011 but its aggressive international expansion slowly broadened its user mix.  The app currently has over 300 million users globally, of which around 40 million now come from overseas.

WeChat is also growing not only in terms of users, but also on the ways it can monetize the service by offering a platform for brand campaigns, ecommerce, gaming and even online to offline activations.

Called Weixin in China, the mobile messaging app doubles as social network, with Instagram-like photo-sharing, a timeline, and friend-discovery functions.  Major brands like Nike, Cadillac and Starbucks have already launched campaigns via the app in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Yeung shared with Marketing that Tencent is expecting similar reception with Filipino brands as soon as numbers pick up.

"In the Philippines, it's a little bit early since we practically started it just two days ago (May 12) but WeChat offers unique tools that can engage people differently. I am sure it will be eventually used by brands here."

While Tencent launched WeChat in the country, Yeung confirmed that have yet to set up an office in the Philippines with a team handling duties like sales and advertising.

WeChat can be downloaded free of charge on iOS, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Phone devices and is available in 18 languages including English, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese, Russian and Bahasa Malaysia.