The future of social apps is in messaging. When you think about the announcement from Snapchat, regarding their shift to become an all-inclusive communication app to the eruption of dating apps like Bumble and Tinder it is clear we are using our mobile devices to communicate, but it’s not with a phone number, and it can’t always be seen in a Newsfeed, it is however through messaging.
Why have we seen this shift to messaging?
It’s because mobile users have made it clear that they want to be able to do more with their apps. The ability to organize an event, transportation, order food and communicate these plans to friends and family members from one location on a mobile device AND in an app they already use is where mobile should be. Social apps can offer these types of enhancements through their messaging platform because they already have the audience that so many apps want and need- the integration of social and service makes sense. Being able to communicate what your plans are and execute them in the same place is what keeps pushing messaging apps forward.
This change in social platform behavior, where consumers are still using social but in a more private and intentional way which does affect marketers. People may still be spending about 80% of their time in mobile apps, but they are not using these apps the same way they did a few years ago. Take a look below at how messaging could change the core of social media marketing.
Facebook kicked off 2016 with an update discussing what Messenger has accomplished and plans for the app in the new year, making it clear that Facebook would continue to heavily focus on their messaging app.
Nearly six months after opening their Messenger API to 40 preselected partners we have our first major update from Facebook Messenger through their partnership with Dutch airlines, KLM. KLM will start providing an opt-in during the booking process for passengers who would like to receive all their flight information in one thread through Messenger. Passengers will soon be able to check in, receive flight updates, make travel changes and talk to customer service reps via bots straight from Messenger.
Facebook announced plans in early 2015 to turn messenger into a tool for businesses through Businesses on Messenger as a way to connect, communicate, problem solve and potentially sell to users and this KLM integration gives us a glimpse into what other companies may be thinking about in expanding their brand through Messenger.
Why It Matters
With the introduction of chatbots through this KLM partnership, Messenger could take social customer care in the right direction. Conversations are held privately, and a bad experience doesn’t have to be blasted across the internet thanks to Business on Messenger. Now, with Messenger’s integration of bots, brands will be able to interact with users inside the messaging app 24/7. Similar to a human conversation, bots could help with shopping and booking services as well as assist users with any questions, even notifying a human customer service representative if the question is above a bot’s capability. The best part is that the whole conversation between brand and user is saved in one place. No more sifting through emails to find when a package is being shipped or writing down names and times after calling a customer service hotline, all the communication is done in one place making the social customer care process feel more natural and streamlined. Companies can stop asking customers to find them when they are having trouble; now companies can address consumer needs in an app their customers are already spending their time in. The addition of bots in Messenger and the buy-in from other major brands like KLM could be a vital tool in how businesses communicate with customers over Messenger.
A tricky function of the sell portion that Facebook has been eluding to is placing ads within Messenger. Recently, there have many reports that as users could start to see ads in Messenger. You can almost sense Facebook’s hesitation of this rollouts with a major stipulation for sending ads being that companies would have to have already started a conversation in Messenger with a user before sending them an ad. This makes the rollout tricky and apparently, Facebook has been encouraging big brand advertisers to start communicating through Messenger and focus on a better, faster response time and ratings through Business on Messenger. According to the leaked documents that TechCrunch reported on, brands who want to send ads to users need to carry on a similar conversation that was had before the ads were sent. Informing consumers about sales, promotions, brand announcements, item availability, reminders or lowered prices could all be possibilities. Remember, this is all speculation and a product that will be tested and rolled out over a long period. As tempting as it is to profit off of Messenger’s 1 billion users, Facebook also wants to make sure it is done right, and that Messenger doesn’t turn into another spam folder.
Also, in the selling category are the rumors that Facebook wants to get in on the digital wallet game. Although Mark Zuckerberg made a statement in January that Facebook was not in the payments business, some leaked commands discovered in Messenger seem to prove otherwise. Commands include: “pay in person,” “pay directly in Messenger when you pick up the item,” and “no cash needed.” As Facebook pushes Messenger to become an “everything app” for businesses it makes sense they could explore digital wallets for the e-commerce and retail side.
Facebook Messenger could become a huge competitor for ad dollars as Messenger offers a place for businesses to interact more intimately and engage their consumers.
Chat 2.0 has arrived, and the announcement was huge in the social community. This update to Chat focused around Snapchat now becoming a communication app, not just an app that self-destructs pictures after 10 seconds but a social app that lets you communicate with others in any way you like.
Snapchat’s Chat update differentiates itself from Facebook Messenger as it does not want to be a central hub for e-commerce, it actually wants to be your primary communication device. Yes, you have your cell phone to do that but how many other apps do you toggle between daily to communicate in the multiple ways the people in your life get in touch with you? From phone calls and voicemails to FaceTime, GroupMe and Facebook Messenger we are jumping around a lot, and Snapchat wants you to do that no more.
The updates in Chat 2.0 include:
- Snapchat stories that are now auto-advanced, so the next Story starts playing automatically
- 200 stickers were added to private Chat to help express reactions without words
- You are now able to upload photos in Chat from your phone and edit them with Snapchat filters
- 10-second looped audio notes and video let you react to content with your face and voice instead of just text
- Audio and video calls are now available through the Chat interface
- You able to toggle between video and audio calls as well as video and audio notes so the conversation never really has to end because of the task you are completing while communicating
Why It Matters
Not only does the new Chat update make it easier to communicate it also makes it easier to engage in content with the app. The Snapchat Stories auto-advanced feature could lead to more video views on Snapchat. Now that you no longer have to exit the current Story to start the next one, users can streamline the process making it easier for them to consume content right after another. For brands that invest in the Sponsored Lens, Geofilters, influencers or spend time creating their own stories- this means that there could soon be more than 7 billion daily video views!
As Buffer puts it, “With Facebook and Twitter, we give friends a glimpse into our lives. Snapchat allows you to share the whole picture more authentically.” When people use any other social app the content they share is never taking up the entire phone, with Snapchat it is a full-screen experience giving you a direct view of someone else’s life. Although the other communication features on Chat 2.0 may not directly impact marketers just yet, we could see an increase in the 100 million daily active users that Snapchat already has with the rollout out of these new features. Whether this Chat update affects your target market, as people who have never used the app give it a try or leads to more video views, one thing is for sure; Chat 2.0 is only going to support Snapchat’s growth and continue to validate it as a social platform marketers need to pay attention to.
Other Messaging Apps
What once started as a way to avoid texting overcharges has now turned into a social experience of its own. Although messaging apps took off quickly in countries like Asia and South America, it took longer to gain traction in the US. Many people in the US looked at messaging apps and thought “why do they matter? It’s just like texting.” But it is so much more; these messaging apps remove barriers to communication. With the ability to talk in groups, send pictures, videos, perform financial transactions and with the integration of bots they are making communication more streamlined for everyone.
With at least 1.4 billion people using messaging apps worldwide there is a lot more to this messaging app field than Messenger and Snapchat. WhatsApp, Kik, Tango, WeChat, and Line (just to name a few) have influenced how people are spending time on their mobile devices but also the use of ads. Tese platforms have both marketers and app creators weary, just where is that line when it comes to advertising in “private” messages?
Why It Matters
Even though we haven’t figured out how to advertise in these messaging apps, it does not mean that brands aren’t welcomed. For now, it seems like brands are exploring ways outside of basic paid ads by providing more of a feature, entertainment or service within the app.
Wrap it Up
Messaging is the future of mobile with predictions that 80% of smartphone users will be using messaging apps by 2018 but it’s hard to tell just how much these social apps will affect marketing. Not only is the way we communicate changing but also how we use social networks. Messaging has created more ways and more reasons for users to hang out in social apps but it has also created a more private experience where brands aren’t able to access users just yet. Our best bet is to start small and test the waters before we dive right in. If one thing is for sure, the majority of mobile users are using messaging apps and brands are going to want to make that a part of mainstream marketing soon!
What do you think, Should brands insert themselves into these personal activities?
Want more content about Messaging apps, Check out this post Can Marketers Benefit From Bots? HERE.