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.

A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing

What I have noticed recently in the marketing press is we hardly ever mention texting anymore. A lot of people are jumping on the marketing App bandwagon the way QR Tags were all the rage a couple of years ago, but many have seemed to skip over texting. The latest 2012 Pew Internet Research indicates that 79% of cell phone owners say they use text messaging while smartphone usage is still only around 45%, and of those smartphone users only 27% report having scanned a QR Code.  In fact, B.L. Ochman of Ad Age recently said “QR codes are dead.” It seems texting has been really underused or at least “under-talked” about by marketers.

The latest Neilson U.S. Digital Consumer Report shows that behind Apps, the second most used function of mobile phones is text messaging. Another good point about text messaging is that you can use them in mediums where QR codes are not possible, such as radio. With a QR tag you need something visual. I actually saw a 30 second TV commercial flash a QR tag for two seconds on the end. What are the chances of that being used?

Instead they could have used an easy to remember text code that someone could punch in without pausing the TV or getting up from the couch! Ads can request users text a code to a number, such as “text JOIN to 99999” to opt-in to a campaign or get an offer. Text codes can be included in just about any marketing medium, from direct mail to email to landing pages. Once someone responds you have their number and can sending messages back. At a concert I texted to win a seat on the stage. I didn’t win the seat, but the band still texts me updates on album releases and concert dates based on my opt-in.

After reporting that 98% of SMS messages sent are opened, and 83% of them are opened within 3 minutes, Corey Eridon from Hubspot gives us some advice on how to conduct a SMS text message campaign:

1. Fundraising and Raising Awareness:

‘The Cove’ case study from Msgme talks about how the documentary film had a “digital social action” campaign to reach other socially conscious people, get them to join a mobile subscriber list by texting a short code, sign a petition, and continue to receive updates about the cause. It engaged viewers at their highest moment of inspiration – the closing credits of the movie.

2. Communicating With Your Most Active Customers:

Zpizza used SMS to identify and reward loyal customers for repeat business by using SMS to make registration quick and easy. Customers texted a keyword that entered them into a contest, and received a follow-up email prompting to join the customer loyalty program.

3. Sending Service Alerts and Reminders:

Mobil1 Lube Express’ SMS campaign to remind customers about regular service and communicate promotions was more effective than email and direct mail. “The read-rate for direct mail is poor. Open rates for email are hindered by spam-combat software and other bounce problems. SMS is virtually a spam-free channel that goes wherever the customer goes.” – Bob Jump, president, Digital Rocket.

4. Driving New Sales:

Through an SMS initiative, regional Ace Hardware users were encouraged to opt-in to receive weather-related mobile notifications based on their ZIP code. Ace integrated the campaign with the National Weather Service to provide timely, location-based weather notifications that included promotions that drove in-store traffic and sales.

But I will close on this caution: EVERY consumer must provide an EXPLICIT opt-in using a cell phone or another approved way of giving permission! Jiffy Lube was Sued for $47 Million, for reckless texting. I suggest you read this article in Chief Marketer about how you should handle SMS Opt-Ins – a lot of this is based on selecting the right experienced vendor. But I don’t want to end on a sour note. SMS Text Messaging can be a very effective marketing tool that doesn’t cost a lot. Big ideas and big results don’t need big budgets or big marketing hype. Have you considered text marketing?

Click Here: Digital Call To Actions

Call to actions are ubiquitous with marketing, but many ads don’t have them. After a Google search and a search of my bookshelf I couldn’t find one reference that recommended not using one. I did find a quote from famous copywriter David Garfinkel about another one David Ogilvy, “David says ads without headlines are headless wonders. This is a tail-less wonder.” So why do so few ads have them? Click here for the Garfinkel article about Ogilvy in the World Copywriting newsletter.

The call to action debate continues today. A client will tell a marketing firm to put “Click Here” on the banner ad, but advertising people argue that consumers know to click for more information. What about in print? Do more people call phone numbers with the word “Call” in front of it versus just listing the number? I instinctively always write “call now” or “call today” with my phone numbers, but sometimes the art director wants to put the number by itself somewhere else. Click here for an article that says having the phrase “click here” on your banner will increase clickthroughs.

Online call to actions come in many shapes and colors. Recently a British design blog debated about designs for call to action buttons. You’ve seen them, but unless you are a web designer you probably never put much thought into how they look. Click here to see examples of 25 different call to action buttons. The article says, “As a designer, it’s your job to make it as easy as possible for visitors to achieve these tasks and call-to-action buttons are the most powerful tools at your disposal.”

Another web innovation is call to action domain names. One example I found about ViewMyHome.com. This becomes a simple and powerful message that doesn’t need any explaining. It’s easy to remember and it has a personal touch that you don’t receive with the regular company website. And you don’t have to build an entire new website. You could just do a landing page with a redirect. Click here for this reference about call to action domain names.

A survey by the Direct Marketing Association showed that the majority of companies that are investing in social media marketing are doing so to increase customer loyalty. So social media call to actions have become important. It is as easy as printing “Follow us on Twitter” on the bottom of a mailer, adding “’Like’ us on Facebook to receive up to the minute event information” to an email message and adding buttons to link to social media profiles or for customers to share information on your company on their social media pages. Click here for a link to the DMA social media survey.

The picture on the right is a mobile text message call to action. This happened during last year’s live broadcast of the Oscars as millions of eyes saw the director of Cove hold us his SMS call to action to get people to sign his online petition. Click here to sign it yourself.