It’s strange to think that social media has now been around for nearly two decades, At first, it was a simple way for old friends to keep in touch. Now, it’s something that many people rely on daily. Especially in the current environment, the pandemic has pulled families apart and social media is often the only way to stay in touch. Colleagues, friends, families, and others use social media to stay connected to the world at a time where there’s a risk to leaving the house.
Social media has also become a critical element of marketing strategies. Of course, the very best thing about using social media is that it comes at no cost. You’ll pay for advertising, but there’s no charge to set up an account, post updates, and communicate with customers.
Now, we’re seeing social media platforms go one step further by introducing social messaging apps to the market. Apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype, and WeChat are used by millions of people all over the world every day. As mentioned, businesses advertise where people gather, and this means that more companies are using social messaging apps in their marketing plans.
What are social messaging apps? Which should you use? How can you use them effectively? You’ll learn the answers to all of these questions in this guide.
Essentially, a social messaging app is a platform designed to allow two parties to talk. If you think of Messenger or WhatsApp, it provides the tools for us to message our friends and loved ones. As long as the two users have an account, they can contact others quickly and effectively. Messages are sent instantly, and some platforms even have ‘read receipts’ to show when the recipient reads a message.
While some social messaging apps are part of a wider social media platform, like Messenger with Facebook, others are standalone apps. In terms of marketing, these social messaging apps provide a platform to contact and have conversations with customers.
Before we look at how you might use social messaging apps, you first need to know the platforms that exist and which you should choose. Let’s deal with the first question initially - what popular apps exist in this market?
Rather than messaging through text, Snapchat is a unique platform that allows users to communicate through pictures and videos. Although there is a text function, the picture and video service is far more popular. Both text- and image-based conversations disappear after opening. Snapchat also has a story feature to interact with an audience.
Messenger might be a side project for Facebook, but it still has over 1.3 billion users, which is something that businesses often overlook. Previously, Facebook users would access Messenger through the Facebook app and platform. Now, Messenger is a standalone app where it’s possible to send images, GIFs, text, photos, and more.
The reason Messenger is so popular with businesses is that it has room for chatbots - you can use it as both a marketing and customer service tool.
As another service owned by Facebook, around 1.5 billion people use WhatsApp. This app carries communications between mobile devices. Rather than basing communication on Facebook profiles, WhatsApp uses mobile numbers. Therefore, it helps users who no longer want to be restricted by their mobile plans - instead, they use WiFi to communicate with others. Businesses find value in the group chats (up to 250 people), status/story features, and more.
Though these are considered the biggest three social messaging apps, you may also think about using the following:
Assess the features, number of users, tools for businesses, analytical features, and more before making a decision.
You essentially have a blank canvas with social messaging apps and it’s time to implement them in a way that benefits your business. Here are just some of the ways that businesses are using social messaging apps and the benefits they bring.
Build Genuine and Authentic Connections
Firstly, many businesses are choosing social messaging because it’s a much gentler approach to marketing. With simple text messages, businesses connect with consumers without coming across as needy, desperate, or going over the top. Even when these messages contain links, customers don’t normally find the messages intrusive, which is why more businesses are choosing this method.
The key is to harness genuine and authentic connections by providing value to the individual. Share some advice, invite them to an event, and personalize the message for added value. With some simple education, people are more inclined to trust and listen to a brand.
Just because you’re using a social messaging app, this doesn’t mean you need to increase the workload for the marketing team. With this in mind, consider using a bot for Facebook messenger. With clever artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, the bot answers simple questions and requests from your audience. You could have nobody in the office, all staff could be in bed asleep, but customers still get the answers they need.
Some businesses even send direct messages with announcements, product reveals, and alerts of new content. When using Facebook Messenger bots in this way, Chanty (a company) experienced a click-through rate of around 30%. According to the chief marketing officer, its previous email campaign failed to get above 10%.
When creating an ad campaign, you match the ad to what you’re trying to achieve. With social messaging apps, the goal is the same. Depending on the position of the audience in the sales funnel, you may send messages to educate, sell, engage, or inform. While promotional texts generate sales, educational messages should encourage engagement.
If you bombard people with messages when they have shown no inclination that they enjoy the messages, you will only cause frustration (and a bad reputation for the brand). Even if people opt into a communication system, this doesn’t mean that they want to receive several messages every day.
Some people use social messaging apps for important reasons, such as to keep in contact with ill family members. If they hear their phone chime, they might panic and think that it’s a family member in trouble. The more you message, the more you risk people coming to resent your brand.
In business, it takes lots of time to build trust and only a short time to break it. Experiment with messages but don’t break the trust that consumers have placed in you by providing contact details. Find the balance between educating (providing value) and promoting (purely looking to make sales).
With this, all you need to know now is how to find the right social messaging app for your purpose. Should you choose Messenger? WhatsApp? A combination of the two? Here’s a guide to choosing the right platform for your business!
If you’ve read any marketing guide on the internet, you’ve probably seen this as the first step time and time again (sorry!). As marketers, we don’t deserve this very title if we don’t know anything about the audience. We can’t advertise, communicate, create products, or do anything else if we don’t know the people who are our customers.
Think about where the audience is based, their age, pain points, challenges, interests, and behaviors online.
With the audience in mind, you then need to consider what you want to achieve from social messaging apps. Do you want to increase sales for a particular product? Engage the audience and get them clicking on your website or social media channels? Educate and position the business as a market leader? Inform people of a new product or service?
If you want to hit huge groups of people at once, keep in mind the 250-person limit on WhatsApp groups. If you want to get engagement for an event, you might find value in the bot options with Messenger.
Choosing a platform based on the first two steps is great, but what if your audience isn’t present on your chosen app? Many businesses have made this mistake and it causes all sorts of problems. They get excited about marketing on a new social messaging app, do lots of customer research, and then find out that the ideal customer just doesn’t use the app.
While WhatsApp and Messenger have a similar number of monthly users (between 1.2 and 1.3 billion), they have very different audiences. Messenger is mostly North American and appeals to people as young as 16. WhatsApp is mostly European - as well as Latin American and Asian - and has an average age range of between 25 and 44.
If you keep these three steps in mind, you’ll choose the right platform and integrate social messaging apps into your marketing strategy successfully in 2021!