Tag Archives: consumers

5 Key Facts You Should Know About Messaging Apps

You’ve probably noticed that more and more people are using messaging apps on their mobile devices. You may even have signed up for one or two yourself, especially since Facebook split its messaging capabilities off from its main Facebook app and pointed its members to Facebook Messenger instead.

As it turns out, however, mobile messaging apps are far more important than you might have realized.

Here are five key facts that you really should know about messaging apps:

1. Messaging Apps (combined with other Dark Social sources) dominate social sharing

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What is Dark Social?
The term “Dark Social” was coined in 2012 by Alexis C. Madrigal, tech editor at Atlantic.com, to refer to web traffic that comes from outside sources that web analytics are not able to track. Dark Social sources include messaging apps, email and other private digital communications.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that, as traditional social media networks such as Facebook have gone mainstream, consumers have been less inclined to share their personal lives through such public channels. Instead, they have become much more likely to use Dark Social tools to share the juicy stuff with their friends.

In fact, Facebook has, according to a recent report from The Informant, been struggling to reverse a 21% decline in “original” sharing (personal updates) across its 1.6 billion monthly active users.

As the Guardian newspaper notes:

After more than a decade of picking up “friends” – everyone from your BFF to your grandmother to that guy who lived down the hall in your dorm way back in your first year of college (what’s his name again?) – we’ve decided that maybe we’re not 100% comfortable sharing intimate details of our lives with such random and disparate groups of people. Or, maybe we’re just all on Snapchat now – another major anxiety of Facebook’s.

Facebook employees are blaming something called “context collapse”: where people, information or expectations from one context invade or encroach upon another. Despite its elegance as a term, it’s a complicated and nuanced phenomenon – one that evokes norms of behavior, communication, sharing and privacy all at once.

For users confronting collapsed contexts on Facebook, the withholding of personal anecdotes and information isn’t a problem – it is a solution.

For years, Facebook’s strategy has caused regular controversies around user privacy and ethics – blunders that got people exposed, outed and emotionally manipulated along the way. Users seem to have combated the problem by taking Facebook’s own advice, as shared by Facebook’s president of communications and public policy, Elliot Schrage, in 2010: “If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”

As messaging apps have gained traction, they’ve become the first choice of many for sharing information on a much more personal level.

2. Messaging Apps are now more popular than Social Networks

By the beginning of 2015, the top four Messaging Apps collectively had more users than the top four Social Networking Apps, according to BI Intelligence.

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Most of that growth has taken place since the beginning of 2014 — it’s an impressive ‘hockey stick’ pattern by any measure.

From those figures, you’d get the impression that nearly three billion people are now using messaging apps. No so much — there’s a lot of duplication.

3. Messaging App adoption is spread across multiple apps

Messaging App usage is far more splintered than social network usage, for a very obvious reason: if you’re connecting one-to-one, you need to use the app that your friend/family member uses. Because it’s trivial (and free) to download a messaging app, when you need to connect to a friend who uses a different app, you simply add that app to your phone.

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In the old days, people migrated from mySpace to Bebo to Facebook because that’s where their friends were clustering — but that was pre-smartphone. Nowadays, with messaging apps free and happily co-existing on the same device, those who use messaging apps typically have several different apps, with different clusters of friends connected through each app.

4. Young Adults are (currently) more likely to use Messaging Apps

Half (49%) of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use messaging apps, while 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages, according to a 2015 Pew Internet study.

That’s not surprising — as Facebook went mainstream, younger web users were amongst the first to realize that it wasn’t a good idea to post content publicly that they didn’t want their parents to see.

Of course, the desire for privacy isn’t confined to the young, and the messaging apps have plenty of growth in them yet, as consumers of all ages graduate, not just from Facebook but also from limited-functionality SMS texting, to more powerful messaging apps that allow them to share multimedia in realtime, for free (in wifi zones) or nearly free (as part of smartphone pricing bundles).

5. Artificial Intelligence is taking over messaging

“I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.” Those chilling words, spoken by the HAL 9000 computer in Arthur C. Clarke’s legendary “2001 A Space Odyssey“, sum up both our hopes and fears when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. We want computers smart enough to understand us and take appropriate action — whilst at the same time we worry about what might happen if they are that smart.

We’ve already seen Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Facebook’s own ‘M’ at work, taking simple steps in response to our instructions. Now Facebook thinks that “chatbots” — AI programs that strike up a conversation with us — represent the best opportunity for corporates to involve themselves in messaging apps. We should note that competitors like Kik, Line and Telegram have had their own bot platforms running for some time, so the concept isn’t exactly new. What’s important about Facebook’s announcement is that the leading player in messaging has now put its weight behind the technology.

At April 2016’s f8 Developers’ conference, Facebook announced that (after running various pilot programs with select businesses) it was opening up its Messenger platform broadly, in beta, to let chatbots into the app on a large scale.

So far, the results from Facebook trials have been somewhat underwhelming:

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So will chatbots actually be beneficial for businesses?

Yes, according to data collected by Daden Limited (based on chatbot usage on websites in the past):

  • “the use of avatars on Dell’s site found that users who interacted with them were twice as likely to give personal information than those who didn’t”.
  • “online campaign featuring avatars for V Graham Norton and Celebrity Big Brother…. generated clickthrough rates of 30%“.
  • “when avatars are used for e-learning content, use of the online courses increases by 400%
  • “Revenues increased by £6,000 a month
  • “Sales increased by 35%
  • “Click-through rates increased by 250%
  • 62% of visitors converted to registrants”
  • “Site traffic lifted and sustained by 200%

In other words, it’s good for the bottom line. So off you go, start building your Cyberdyne Systems bot.

In Summary

Messaging Apps are now an essential component of the digital marketing world. You owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about messaging and how you can it in your business.

If you’d like to know a whole lot more about Messaging Apps, we cover the topic in detail in Lesson Two of our new Social Media Refresher online training course. For more details, click here.

 

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Atlas by Facebook

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Facebook is relaunching its Atlas advertising programme, enabling marketers to tap into its treasure trove of consumer data. Re/Code explains:

  • Facebook is reintroducing Atlas, the underused platform it bought from Microsoft last year.
  • Facebook says Atlas can help marketers track the effectiveness of their ads around the Web; it also says it will allow them to buy ads on non-Facebook websites and apps, using Facebook targeting data.
  • Facebook makes a point of saying these ads aren’t “Facebook ads.” But it is also playing up the notion that the ads marketers buy via Atlas will be more effective than other big ad platforms, because they use Facebook’s data.
  • Facebook says it is working with lots of partners, but so far has named only two. Ad holding giant Omnicom, which already has deals with Facebook, Google, Twitter and most other big digital players, says it will buy ads with Atlas. Facebook’s Instagram will also work with the platform. The most tantalizing notion I’ve heard this week is that Facebook has talked to Twitter about joining up, and that the idea remains a possibility.
  • What’s that? You’re worried about people using your Facebook data to serve you ads? Facebook says you shouldn’t worry, because your identity will remain anonymous to advertisers and publishers — they’ll just know some basic facts about you. But really, if you’re worried about this kind of thing you shouldn’t be on Facebook. Actually, the whole Web is probably a no-go zone for you. Sorry.

From a marketer’s perspective, the Atlas initiative is an inevitable development, as Facebook attempts to out-monetise Google.

As Pando notes, there’s another important side-effect to the Atlas initiative, as the world goes mobile:

Atlas solves a technical problem that has frustrated advertisers since consumers flocked to mobile devices: the inability to see how ads viewed on one device influence purchases made on other devices because digital “cookies,” the Web’s little stalkers, can’t track smartphone activity.

Check out the video, and check out Atlas, coming soon to a marketer near you.

How Social Media Monitoring Can Improve Your Sales

By now, most marketers understand that it’s a good idea to monitor what’s being said about you in social media, for self-protection at least. How can you know if your brand or company is being trashed online, so that you can take appropriate remedial action, if you’re not listening?

Now an article from Contently highlights some of the other ways in which Social Media Monitoring can directly help your business:

What happens when a minor TV character get major social attention? In the digital age, how do you take advantage of it and adjust? That was the challenge faced by BET [Television] Network’s Being Mary Jane.

The show’s Twitter analysis showed that an unexpected character was emerging as a fan favourite: Avery, the wife scorned by the affair between Mary Jane and her husband. It was too late to reshoot the series, but the fans’ love forced BET to rethink its social media strategy and the way it was promoting the show.

It all began around the time the series premiered in January 2013. JP Lespinasse, BET’s senior director of social media, got a shiny new toy: Adobe Social, a social media management and analytics tool that he began using to monitor the chatter around Being Mary Jane.

Two shows into the eight-episode series, an intriguing insight emerged. While of course the romantically challenged Mary Jane herself got the most attention, the Twitter analysis showed that Avery garnered the next highest number of mentions.

“The next step was, let’s see where we can begin to amp up our coverage of Avery from a content perspective,” Lespinasse recalls. BET recut some of its broadcast commercials to feature Avery more. They also gave her more visibility on the show’s website and digital promotions, and recruited the actress who plays Mary Jane, Robinne Lee, to live tweet the episodes that featured her character.

When the social media staff used their human brains to parse the social media chatter, they gleaned another useful insight into just why Avery appealed so much to the audience. “There were a lot of people quoting her,” Lespinasse says. “The stuff that made Avery resonate was the stuff that came out of her mouth. So, not only do we want to feature her generally, we want to feature what she’s saying.”

So how did the BET social media team glean these insights? They began their social listening program two weeks before the premiere. Then, every morning after the show aired, they’d peruse the analytics. They also produced weekly reports charting the total audience against social media mentions.

Most of us don’t have TV shows in our product portfolio, but any brand promoting its wares to a public audience (whether B2C or B2B) should have a social media monitoring strategy that reports on what’s being said about the brand online.

By actively listening, you can identify any problems and concerns, of course, but the monitoring process can also highlight:

  • product features that particularly appeal to your customers
  • unexpected uses for your product that might create future opportunities
  • category problems that consumers have but that your product could solve

In the latter case, social media monitoring provider Infoglutton gives an example of how monitoring can improve product design:

We ran InfoGlutton to monitor problems people are expressing about espresso machines. Here’s two mentions we found out today on Twitter:

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Joe Hall, writing at SearchEngineLand, provides a useful protocol for turning social media monitoring into effective new product design:

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Recommended Monitoring Tools

So how can you listen effectively without the process taking up too much time? At a minimum, you should:

  • Sign yourself up to Google Alerts for your company name, products, executives or brand terms so that you’re alerted by email whenever your name pops up online. To do so, enter your search terms and select to receive updates as they happen.

    alerts
    Choose “As-it-happens” and “All results”

  • Check Twitter for chatter about your company or brand. Use tools like TweetBeep or Twitter Search to monitor conversations about your company in real-time.
  • Get email notifications for specific search phrases on Facebook through Hyperalerts.
  • (B2B) Join a few LinkedIn groups to which your key customers and prospects belong. Search for questions or comments that you or members of your company can address.
  • Get yourself up to speed with RSS readers and use Feedly to check Flickr, Delicious, Digg and others

Is OTT Messaging The New Social?

We’ve all become increasingly familiar with the tragic tales of people going for a job, standing for a public position or simply claiming to be off sick, only to be outed by their Facebook posts which reveal their failings, sins and indiscretions to the world.

We live in increasingly glass houses, where our lives are (in the finest tradition of The Truman Show) broadcast live to the world. Even if we avoid posting selfies in flagrante delicto, we can still end up tagged in photos that unflatter us. In the process of sharing stuff with our friends, we’re more and more likely to end up sharing with Google and its few billion acquaintances as well.

We’ve tended to view this is as an inevitable social transition, as the archaic notion of privacy is abandoned in favour of an always-connected “what happens in Vegas … now stays online forever” transparency paradigm. Yes, today’s employers may tut-tut and refuse to hire those whose indiscretions are blatantly displayed online; but tomorrow’s employers, their own failings similarly emblazoned across social networks, are likely to be more tolerant (or so we hope).

What we’re now seeing, however, is a move away from open social networks to the closed user spaces of OTT* messaging applications, especially amongst teens and young adults who are tired of leaving a digital trail which can be seen by parents and employers and by which they can be judged.

* These messaging applications are called OTT (Over The Top), to indicate that they sit on top of the mobile infrastructure, using internet data connectivity rather than the cellular messaging facility, usually at a much lower pricepoint

The move to OTT messaging is problematic for marketers, however, for several reasons:

1. No Clear Leaders

As ReadWrite notes:

“The messaging landscape is fragmented. Teenagers are ditching social media to chat on services like WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat and KakaoTalk. Apps like Kik, Line and Tango are other popular SMS replacements, [along with] Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, GroupMe and Skype.”

2. Advertising May Not Be Welcome

It doesn’t help that service providers such as WhatsApp are saying they don’t want to include advertising:

The people at WhatsApp say explicitly that they “are not fans of advertising.” Because of this, “WhatsApp is currently ad-free and we hope to keep it that way forever.” Are you listening, every other company? Because this is what users want.

Mainstream OTT messaging providers such as Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts will be more sympathetic to marketers’ needs — but first they need to capture a significant market share.

3. Messaging Platforms Are Aiming To Keep Those Eyeballs Engaged

As always in the mobile space, the Asian markets demonstrate the future of OTT messaging platforms. According to BGR:

Mobile apps linked to messaging services are taking over the two most important Asian app markets, Japan and Korea. Today, nine out of the ten biggest revenue generators on South Korea’s Google Play app chart are Kakao apps. It is effectively becoming impossible to launch a major hit in the Korean app market unless you use Kakao’s messaging app as your platform. This in turn means that everyone interested in mobile apps is using Kakao. The messaging app has turned into the dominant platform for game distribution. LINE’s role in Japan is not quite as strong, but games for this messaging app regularly hold about half of the positions in Japan’s top-10 iPhone and Android app revenue charts.

… Time spent on messaging apps is exploding even in markets where games linked to these platforms have not yet taken off. According to The Hindu, people in India now spend 27 minutes per day on chat apps, up from 7 minutes just two years earlier. Many of the most populous countries in the world — China, India, Japan, Korea — have now fallen in thrall of the messaging apps. Their share of the daily leisure time of consumers is rapidly expanding. This will inevitably give messaging app vendors a golden chance to turn into content delivery companies. And to stage a serious offensive against Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Second, revenue growth generated by games linked to messaging apps is unearthly. LINE is now generating 67% revenue growth — between quarters, not annually. China’s WeChat is already on a big, global marketing binge, which has helped it boost its presence dramatically from Italy to Nigeria over the past summer.

Finally, one of the hottest app industry topics in Tokyo [at the Japan Game Show in September 2013] was the expansion of content services that we are about to witness. Over the next year, a rapidly expanding selection of comics, videos and music will start flowing to users of WeChat, LINE and Kakao.

4. OTT Messaging Is Taking Over from SMS

OTT Messaging isn’t only competing with Social Media, of course — it’s also taking on good old SMS text messaging, and (according to an April 2013 study by Informa) it’s already won. Business Insider reports that 41 billion OTT messages are now exchanged every day, compared with 19.5 billion SMS messages.

A late-2012 white paper by McKinsey highlights the key drivers of OTT adoption:

  • Technology Readiness, in the form of 3G or 4G networks; and penetration of smartphones
  • Cost Incentives, with SMS too expensive relative to data charges
  • Social Propensity, particularly driven by smartphone adoption amongst teens and young adults
  • Market share of specific OTT messaging applications

Here’s how those triggers drove adoption in South Korea and the Netherlands, according to McKinsey :

ott-triggers

Do most of these triggers apply in New Zealand? Indeed they do.

5. Blink And You’ll Miss It

As if the proliferation of messaging platforms was not enough to worry about in itself, we’re now seeing the development of content that, like SnapChat, self-destructs. Forbes reports:

[Ephemeral apps, such as, in this example, Frankly, work like this:] send a message, and your recipient will initially see a box of blurred text. Once they tap it, a set timer counts down the seconds till the message has been deleted; sent to the digital afterlife. Chat windows, for the most part, thus stand empty at all times. Each time someone sends a text, they can also tap a black “x” afterwards to take it back, in case they change their mind. The idea is that the sender is always in control.

“Maybe, just as the rise of big data and government surveillance and privacy concerns and the over-curated self images on Facebook, people are saying, ‘I miss the days when I could have a private conversation,’” says Frankly founder Steve Chung. “‘Maybe I’m not saying anything bad, but you and I sit down in a coffee shop and we remember what we remember. When we leave, we don’t have reams of paper that recorded it all.’”

The question then isn’t if people want their messages deleted — plenty seem perfectly happy to keep reams of recorded texts — but whether they want more control over what is recorded.

Other ephemeral messaging services include such little-known names as Wickr, Blink, Gryphn, Ansa, SecretInk and Tiger Text. They’re fighting for market share in a still-developing arena, responding to consumer demand for a little more privacy.

Your messages probably still aren’t safe from the likes of the GCSB, Julian Assange or Edward Snowdon, but at least your boss shouldn’t be able to read them without your permission.

PS We cover OTT Messaging in detail in our new Mobile Marketing course

NZ’s Leading Pinterest Pages

We’re slowly assembling a database of Pinterest Pages created by or for NZ businesses and we’d welcome your input. Please tell us in the comments about any NZ business pages on Pinterest with more than 100 followers (yes, as few as that — Pinterest is still an acquired taste for most New Zealand marketers, and Kiwi companies have only a fraction of the followers on Pinterest when compared to the numbers they have attracted on Facebook or Twitter).

On the inevitably-flawed basis of the 497 NZ Pinterest Pages we’ve collected and analysed so far, here are the Top Ten Kiwi pages (ranked by Numbers of Followers), as at March 12 2013:

10. Black Cow Nz (mystichillsnz) — 551 Followers

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9. DressMePretty .Co.NZ (DressMePrettyNZ) — 592 Followers

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8. Good as Gold (goodasgold) — 690 Followers

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7. Glassons (glassons) — 866 Followers

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6. Farmers – Your Store (farmersnz) — 918 Followers

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5. Superette (superettestore) — 978 Followers

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4. Pure New Zealand (purenewzealand) — 1192 Followers

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3. Styled NZ (StyledNZ) — 2,215 Followers

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2. Air New Zealand (airnewzealand) — 2,338 Followers

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And, leading the charge (and, frankly, way, way out in front):

1. Michelle Halford (mgrim) — 15,808 Followers

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NB: We’ve included Michelle in this list because her blog accepts advertising and sponsorship revenues, which from our perspective makes her operation a business. We left out a large number of other Kiwis who might otherwise belong on this list because, at least from what we could observe, they pin for pleasure rather than for business purposes.

 

Content Types

The types of Pinterest pages that are topping the polls here are no real surprise. As we noted in an earlier article, these are the most popular content types on Pinterest:

If your product falls within one of those categories, we recommend that you consider adding a Pinterest Page to your product portfolio, sooner rather than later — 291,000 Kiwi consumers visited the site in December 2012, according to Nielsen Online Ratings. That may be only about a tenth of the number of NZ visitors attracted to Facebook, but it’s still a sizeable chunk of potential buyers of your products or services.

PS We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that we cover Pinterest in detail in Lesson Two of our Advanced Social Media Marketing course.