WeeWorld is rocking the mobile world: The UK-based social platform for teens and women is seeing some remarkable results – especially on iPhone. We sat down with WeeWorld’s CEO Celia Francis to discuss the company’s mobile approach.
WeeWorld has been around since 2002, it started off as an avatar creating site and later expanded its services to a standalone platform for female and teen audiences, allowing them to style avatars, decorate places, meet people and play mini-games. According to WeeWorld, 50 million avatars -or WeeMees- have been created so far.
Paid apps monetize well, but freemium is here to stay
Since 2010, WeeWorld publishes free as well as paid iPhone apps, the most successful one being the WeeMee Avatar Creator (priced at $0.99), which features additional in-app purchases and was downloaded over 3 million times, according to WeeWorld. The company achieves strong results with in-app purchases – one fifth of users pay for additional virtual items. On Android, however, things are different: With app discovery being a main issue in the Android Market, WeeWorld has published only one (free) Android app that has about 100,000 downloads. The freemium trend hasn’t gone unnoticed, so more free apps with in-app purchases are to be expected from WeeWorld for both iOS and Android.
Mobile became an effective user acquisition channel
While the opportunities for cross-platform approach are enormous, HTML5 still isn’t quite where it should be. WeeWorld is keeping an eye on HTML5 but focuses on building individual apps for each platform at the moment: “Native apps allow us to take advantage of all the different features of handsets, which is something that we are very keen on,” Celia explained. All of WeeWorld’s mobile apps provide distinctive features, rather than reproduce the whole platform. “So far, we keep it simple on the mobile side,” said Celia. People tend to use mobile apps in between other activities, that’s why they’re made easy and fun – rather than overloaded with too many features.
For WeeWorld, mobile apps have become an effective user acquisition channel that allowed the company to tap into new audiences, Celia explained: “Usually, our user base is 20 years our younger, but our mobile apps attract older demographics as well. Especially middle-aged women discover our platform through mobile apps.”
Users share creations rather than achievements
Establishing more connections between their mobile offerings and the core web-based platform, is the main focus for the months to come. Be it on mobile or web-based, WeeWorld is all about self-expression. “Our audience is younger than the Facebook audience. In Facebook, you use your real persona, we take a different approach by offering personalized entertainment,” said Celia. Especially young people enjoy to express themselves and play different roles, or even become someone else for a day.
There are overlaps with Facebook’s social graph, but most of the users choose not to post WeeWorld updates on Facebook. And interestingly, only around 20% log in with Facebook Connect. “There are a lot of sharing opportunities around achievements. But to share something you have created, is an even greater motivation,” Celia believes. These means of self-expression are not only attractive for teens – the CEO herself is an avid user.
Justin Bieber and other stars stop by regularly
Even though WeeWorld is operating in the UK, their main user base is located in the US. So far, WeeWorld doesn’t localize for European markets. “We utilize network effects to grow our audience and that’s a lot easier in a homogenous market,” explained Celia. Because of the attractive user demographics, integrating branded virtual goods has helped to provide another solid revenue stream. Also, WeeWorld frequently integrates celebrity-themed virtual items by stars like Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, and teenage idol Justin Bieber.