We dive into three ways that messaging apps are letting brands connect with their consumers closer than ever.
Messaging apps are the place to be this year. People are converging more and more on social media’s ‘walled gardens’ to interact both more intimately and in-depth than before.
For brands, messaging apps present a way to cut through the digital voice and directly communicate with consumers.
And the relationship is mutually beneficial. Rather than sort through dozens of pages on a brand’s website or call a frustrating hotline, consumers can use messaging apps to reach a company.
More than ever, people are turning to messaging apps as their social platform as choice—be it WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Snapchat, or others.
Messaging apps are expected to reach over two billion users in the next two years, according to eMarketer. Facebook Messenger is already at 900 million active monthly users, and WhatsApp is at one billion.
Purely social channels aren’t the only places brands are engaging.
As Slack becomes the internal communications hub for businesses, brands and publishers are testing the waters on it as well. Washington Post is building a news bot app on Slack, one that can interact with readers and research news and information for them.
So how can brands approach the booming frontier of messaging apps?
The possibilities are endless, now that brands can interact as a personal assistant, or even a friend. They can go the the way of creating informative, functional, or simply entertaining experiences.
At the heart of it, people and especially teens, are flocking to messaging apps for a closer connection than the platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer. Brands can use that as an opportunity to offer consumers a truly personalized experience.
Sephora is one of the leading brands offering users a custom experience. The beauty brand just launched on Kik, a messaging app with over 275 million monthly users.
Users can take a quiz with Sephora’s chatbot to receive customized product recommendations based on their information. They can get reviews, video tutorials and beauty tips, and even purchase products directly from the app.
The brand interacts like a regular friendly sales associate you might run into at Sephora (or even your friend who’s really good at makeup, emojis included).
Instead of stumbling around a website or store, consumers get information directly from the brand, delivered in a personalized fashion.
Not only are they led to the products meant just for them and their preferences, but they get info about those products and how to use them, all right on their personal messenger.
Hellmann’s Mayonnaise also ran a successful custom campaign on WhatsApp called WeCook, where they helped users create recipes based on the contents of the user’s kitchen. Other brands are jumping in, such as H&M and The Weather Channel, who have joined Kik’s newly launched bot store.
Provide a Service
Facebook Messenger’s bot store is also underway, but there are some early adopters. In addition to information and personalized experiences, Facebook Messenger is trying to streamline the other activities of their users to exist within the app.
These utilities can be travel-based: Messenger’s Uber and Lyft integrations let users hail drivers directly from within the app. It’s not only limited to cars. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines now lets passengers use Messenger for flight updates and as their boarding pass.
The possibilities unfolding are seemingly endless—Taco Bell is testing a chat bot in Slack that will let you order tacos through the messaging app, allowing you to order your burritos without ever leaving your desk.
Content needs to have a value to resonate with people. If your brand isn’t providing a service or information personalized to that user, another way to build brand awareness is through entertainment over messaging apps.
Snapchat has provided a natural path for brands to do this. The content there is meant to be lighthearted and fun. With Snapchat stories, users can create their own content in the hopes of being included in a brand’s limited-time story. Or, users can use a special filter from the brand for their own images.
This Snapchat story for the US Olympic Wrestling trials in early April showed that fans get pumped by even obscure sports
This helps the brand as well, since users will generate content that the brand can repurpose. This gives those users a special spotlight that will make them feel their creativity and brand loyalty were recognized.
Now that Snapchat has opened up creating custom filters to all, any brand can create a fun filter to give users an experience they’ll associate with the brand.
Chat bots are another way to increase brand awareness and a fun experience for consumers. Although Microsoft’s recent Twitter bot ended with extreme controversy, it nonetheless opened dialogues about what chat bots are capable of.
After chat bot Tay’s tweets evolved to be highly offensive, Microsoft quickly made the AI’s tweets private
Other brands are letting people chat with beloved mascots and characters. You can chat with a bot version of Miss Piggy on her Facebook page, and fans were able to talk with a Doc Brown chat bot from “Back to the Future” as a part of a limited time campaign.
Even Facebook’s upcoming F8 conference is going to focus on businesses getting involved in Facebook Messenger. The bot future is here.
What is Really the Value of Messaging Apps for Brands?
Social media has made it so brands can be closer to consumers than ever, and messaging apps take it a step further, letting consumers and brands interact.
Television and print ads only spoke at their audience. Now that audience can speak back, and brands can begin delivering the products, services and experiences their consumers genuinely want. Despite occurring on ‘dark social’, it shifts marketing in the dark, without really knowing consumers’ minds, to knowing exactly what they want.
This is a new world for brands, and one that’s necessary to brave the frontier on.
Try NewsWhip Spike to find what your audience cares about and start creating content that matters today