How To Integrate Messaging Apps Into Your Social Media Strategy.

Social messaging is instant messaging or chat applications created around social networks for communication on mobile phones with less limits and more features than traditional texting. They use the app’s interface and the internet to send messages rather than SMS service. Messaging apps are popular and have grown to over 5 billion monthly active users worldwide. Top apps pull in over one billion each such as WeChat (1.2 billion) and Facebook Messenger (1.2 billion), Kik (300 million), Viber (236 million), and Line (217 million).

Messaging use is increasing among all groups.

A Nielson Messenger survey found various generations are using messaging from Millennials (65%) and Gen Xers (65%) to Boomers (63%) and say that messaging improves their lives and their relationships by making communication simpler (69%), more ongoing (65%), easier for groups (65%), and more frequent (63%). People are using messaging to stay up to date with friends and family (59%) and to extend their networks (54%). Over the next two years they expect to use messaging apps more for communicating one-to-one (50%), with groups (60%), and, the most increase, with businesses (67%). In fact, 53% said they would be more likely to shop with a business they could message directly.

People like social messaging for features such as text chats, group chats and notifications, but also social features like status updates, media sharing and stickers. With advanced features they can chat with friends, obtain customer service, make calls, play games, access content, and buy products. Messaging apps also let businesses use chatbots to for customer service, sending content to users, selling products and services and purchase advertising.

The most popular messaging apps vary by region. According to SimilarWeb, WhatsApp is the dominate messaging app across most of the world. Facebook Messenger has supplanted it as number one in countries like the US, Canada, Australia and select Western European countries. WeChat is dominant in China and smaller messaging apps are most popular in other regions like Line in Asian Pacific countries and Viber in Eastern European countries. The messaging app Kik is unique in that it is most popular among a demographic – younger users age 13 to 23. Another messaging app consideration for B2B is Slack, which is a main internal communications tool for many companies.

How to integrated messaging into marketing communications.

As with other social media platforms business and organizations should consider adding messenger apps to their marketing, advertising and public relations strategies because their customers are increasingly using them and are beginning to expect brands to be there as well. Messaging apps can provide access to direct sales, customer service and to extend the reach of brand content distribution in an area known as dark social, the —84 percent of online sharing through private channels without a referral source. Thus, it isn’t tracked as social shares or referral traffic.

Broadly there are three ways brands can interact with consumers via messaging apps. Content marketing in messaging apps can do more than share with engaging ways to tell stories, demonstrate products, create engaging quizzes, trivia and games. Special offers, sales, promotions and even direct sales can occur in messaging apps unlike social networks. Also, the real-time nature and privacy of conversations makes messaging an ideal environment deliver customer service.

Much of these attractive features are enabled by chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation for customer service or information acquisition and distribution. Chatbots can be used for customer service, but can also be used to make brand content fun and engaging. One of the best ways to fully understand the possibilities of using messaging apps for social strategy is to see what brands have done on various messaging platforms.

Some examples of brands leveraging messaging.

The NBA increased basketball fan engagement during the NBA Finals and the NBA Draft. NBA’s bot on Facebook Messenger provided fans with instant access to highlights resulting in over 350k interactions. Teen celebrity magazine J-14 used two bots to deliver content and customized quizzes on the messaging app Kik to build up a young consumer subscriber list of 500,000. Miller Lite created a football game day collection of branded digital stickers used in Kik and Viber. The campaign led to over 600,000 downloads and millions of sends.

The British fashion brand Burberry took a different approach reaching consumers in China with a culturally relevant campaign via WeChat. During the Chinese New Year Burberry sent users an image of a letter with a pink bow and told them to “Shake” to open the gift and send a personalized Burberry greeting to a friend and celebrate Lunar New Year. Users could shop their New Year collection within Burberry’s WeChat store and sign up to win limited edition Lunar New Year envelopes to be picked up in-store.

Two food brands have created messaging strategies to help consumers make meals built around their brand’s as ingredients. Hellman’s mayonnaise created the “whatscook” WhatsApp campaign in South America where by entering numbers on the website chefs would contact consumers in WhatsApp offering live cooking advice. Based on a picture of ingredients chefs provided recipes teaching users to cook with pictures and even videos. Average interactions were an amazing 65 minutes and the effort reach 5.5 million people. Knorr foods created a chatbot, Auntie, to answer the question “What’s for dinner?” for moms in Thailand using Line. Auntie provided personalized recipes for great family meals which were viewed over 1.6 million times resulting in an increase in Knorr stock cube consumption by 50%.

Macy’s has partnered with Viber to offer in-chat shopping where users can search and share Macy’s products in the messenger app. While purchases happen via a link, the messaging platform is working on full in-app ecommerce features for the future. Adidas has used WhatsApp to build hyper local brand communities in cities across the world. The brand has found messaging to be a great tool for fan engagement offering members first notice of news releases, invites to events and access to Adidas’ ambassadors. Finally, cosmetics brand Sephora has found a way to simplify their scheduling process in Facebook Messenger. Their reservation assistant makes it easy for users to book makeovers and that has helped increase in-store sales.

Messaging social media advertising options.

Like many other social platforms, social messaging apps have also moved to paid social with native advertising options. Facebook Messenger offers sponsored messages, Kik offers promoted chats and Viber offers sponsored content. Line sells in app ads and WeChat offers Moment ads. WhatsApp is still holding out and has not offered native advertising options for businesses and organizations.

Has your brand considered using social messaging apps? In what ways could your target consumers benefit from increased engagement in these platforms?

For the latest changes in social media strategy consider Asking These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Social Media Strategy and its a good idea to Perform A Social Media Audit at least once a year.

Social Media Icon Quiz: Test Your Social Media Knowledge.

A major part of any social media strategy and plan is selecting social channels and that can be overwhelming with so many options. Some report thousands of social media sites and apps, Wikipedia lists over 200 and Brian Solis’s Conversation Prism has just under 200 social channel options in 26 categories. To simplify the selection of social channels I divide social media options into 9 categories by key characteristics. In a previous blog post “Social Media Update: Top Social Media Channels By Category” I list the top 3 or more channels in category. Here I go deeper with the Top 100 social media icons to test your social media knowledge.

How social media savvy are you? Take a couple of minutes and write down the names of the social media icons you know from the list of 100 top channels and tools below. How many can you name? (Don’t scroll down for the answers until you are done.)

Social Media Icons

Once you have written down the names, you can scroll down further to check your answers. First, let’s consider why social media is so important to any organization with some of the latest statistics. According to Pew Research Center, as of November 2016, 77% of all online adults use social networking sites with 87% of 18-29 year-olds on social media, 83% of 30-49 year-olds, 72% of 50-64 year-olds and just over half (51%) of 65+ active on social networks.

From “Social Network Use” (2017) Pew Research Center PewResearch.org Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/data-trend/media-and-technology/social-networking-use/

How many social media icons did you know? Add up how many social media names you had right. That is your percentage out of the 100 social icons listed here.

Out of the 100 social media icons you knew __%. Congratulations! As a marketer, advertiser or public relations professional for any brand you need to go where your customers are active. Recent reports indicate 30% of all time online is spent on social media with global adults spending nearly 2 hours a day on social media up from only 15 minutes in 2012. Shockingly teens spend up to 9 hours a day on social media.

Do you have a social media strategy?

For the latest changes in social media strategy consider Asking These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Social Media Strategy and its a good idea to Perform A Social Media Audit at least once a year.

How Mobile Micro-Moments Could Be Your Social Media Secret Weapon.

It is no secret that mobile has changed consumer behavior, but this post reveals how understanding this shift could lead to a social media marketing advantage. Nearly 9 out of 10 Internet users own a smartphone and mobile accounts for 65% of all digital media time as desktop has become a “secondary touch point.” For most people mobile is a 24/7 presence with 87% keeping their smartphone by their side night and day. This mobile first mentality has created unique opportunities for social media marketers.

Marketers know it is important to understand the buyer’s journey. Buyer’s goals and behaviors change based on the stage of the buying cycle. Marketers should tailor social media messages to prepurchase, purchase and postpurchase customers. Yet increased mobile use has created a more fragmented buyer’s journey. Google calls this micro-moments or those hundreds of real-time, goal oriented mobile actions that influence decisions and preferences.

A marketer that creates social content with real-time, micro-moment relevance could influence brand preference over competitors. How much? The Wall Street Journal reports 69% of online customers say the quality, timing, or relevance of a company’s message influence their perception of a brand. These micro-moments occur frequently as we instinctively turn to mobile devices to “act on a need, learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something.”

Decisions are made and preferences are shaped as people check their phones up to 150 times a day. Google’s research reveals there are four mobile moments marketers should study: “I want to know,” I want to go, ” “I want to do,” and “I want to buy.” One way to leverage micro-moments is through SEO and search advertising, but understanding these moments and consumer intent should also influence brand social media to increase real-time relevance.

Why micro-moments for social? Nearly 80% of social media time is spent on mobile, and more referral traffic can come from social media channels like Facebook than traditional search. Plus social media strategy is not all about followers and shares – social search is increasing. With 2 billion Facebook and 2.1 billion Twitter searches a day how can brands appear in more results? I suggest looking at your Social Media Content Calendar and ensuring that every week you are creating content that addresses each of these micro-moments.

I Want To Know Moments. In these moments consumers are researching and exploring. Be sure you provide educational content that informs and inspires. For example, if you are a company that sells outdoor gear provide tips and guides to enjoy the outdoors, tackle a tough mountain hike or reviews of new equipment. If you are a tax accountant you may want to create content about retirement plans or itemized deductions. Help customers turn to you for insight.

I Want To Go Moments. These moments are all about geo-targeting. Use your social media to target zip codes with unique location based messages. Here the outdoor brand could inform customers of local events such as group Kayak tours or store locations that carry the brand. A tax service might highlight locations, workshops and extended hours as April 15th approaches. Let customers know you are near.

I Want To Do Moments. In these moments someone is trying to figure something out now and are looking for answers. Are you creating valuable how-to content? An outdoor brand could consider a series on climbing knots or methods for purifying water while camping. The tax service could post quick answers to common tax questions such as tax brackets and standard deductions. Make sure you are helping your customers and potential customers not your competitor.

I Want To Buy Moments. Consumers are ready to buy but may not know what or how. In social these moments are about more than promotions and sales messages. Depending on your business this may require real-time marketing, getting customer service involved or even the sales department for B2B. The outdoor brand may sell group tours and have sales reps monitoring social media to provide answers to secure a booking. The tax service may have tax advisors monitoring social providing real time answers and building relationships that lead to a tax prep purchase.

Do micro-moments convert? There is evidence that social media likes, shares and comments contribute to higher search rankings. Also Google Analytics aggregated data reports that mobile’s share of online sessions has increased 20% in the last year with mobile conversion rates increasing 29% while time spent per visit has decreased 18%. People know what they want and are acting quicker. The marketers who understand this and create the content matching their intent could uncover a new competitive advantage.

Who has leveraged micro-moments? The Home Depot has turned “I want to do” moments into 43 million views by expanding their “how-to” collection as more DIYers turn to their YouTube app as they work on home projects. The credit repair company Progrexion discovered that customers in their “I want to know” moment needed education and began directing mobile traffic directly to their salespeople resulting in a 221% increase in mobile sales. FIAT made “I want to go” moments a part of their integrated campaign by focusing mobile content on nearest dealers helping grow unaided recall 127%. Sephora leveraged “I want to buy” moments by providing reviews of products customers were considering increasing confidence for in store purchase.

Have you considered how consumers turning to mobile first and fast can impact your social media strategy? What mobile first micro-moments could you leverage for competitive social media advantage?

For the latest changes in social media strategy consider Asking These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Social Media Strategy and its a good idea to Perform A Social Media Audit at least once a year.