Messaging applications the future of marketing

social mediaSocial media may have become the buzzword of the marketing world, but there is a global trend away from social media and onto messaging platforms, new research suggests.

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The 2016 datafication project has found that the top four traditional social media networks have been overtaken by the top four messaging apps in terms of active monthly users.

The findings are part of a partnership between The Works Sydney and brand data scientist, Dr. Suresh Sood from University of Technology Sydney. Together they’ve collected data about how 2491 Australians are using messaging applications.

Presenting the highlights of the research to a group of social media marketers at Inside Retail Academy’s latest event, Social Media: Connect, Personalise and Transact, held last week in Melbourne and Sydney, The Works founder, Douglas Nicol, said 10.5 million Australians are now on messaging applications.

“At a global level, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram have been overtaken by the top four messaging apps – WeChat, Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger,” Nicol said.

“The data is showing that this is a scale opportunity, it’s not often we have a new channel to play with in the world of marketing.

“What’s exciting about messaging apps is that in 2009-10 they didn’t exist. They are all very new apps and their growth has been stratospheric,” he continued.

The research team created a Facebook messaging bot to collect data on messaging behaviour, combining their findings with 40 qualitative interviews and battery analytics – which show how long people are spending on specific applications.

“We have 33 apps installed on average,” Nicol said. “However, we spend the day looking at 12 and further, only have our attention focused on three apps.

“80 per cent of our attention on smartphones goes on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Google,” Nicol said.

According to Nicol, the findings are indicative of a future that’s moving away from the app and towards integrated conversations with family, friends and businesses.

“If you’re in a conversation with friends and family in a messaging app, you can effortlessly move into a conversation with a brand at a low cost, but also without any app updates,” he said.

“We are moving out of an era where we are totally app obsessed and into an era where more of our services are integrated into the flow of conversation with our families and friends,” he added.

Facebook messenger is leading the way in terms of users, maintaining 8.8 million users, followed by WhatsApp at 3.3 million, and then Snapchat at 2.8 million. The sheer number of users represents an unprecedented opportunity for marketing, Nicol says.

Nicol argues that the sheer number of users represents an unprecedented opportunity for marketing that’s already taking off overseas, particularly with WeChat in China, which has 800 million users.

“WeChat is the ultimate expression of running your life through a messaging app. You can do your banking on WeChat, you can buy your shopping, you can order an Uber, you can deal with government,” he told the audience at the social media.

“You can run your whole life without ever leaving the Wechat messaging app,” he continued.

Some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Apple and Google, are already investing in messaging applications. Apple has recently revamped its iMessage offering to incorporate an “integrated” experience and Google is preparing to launch its Allo messaging platform.

“The Google’s and Apple’s of the world are very focused on this space because they can see that is undoubtedly the next way … [Allo] has fantastic integration with Google itself,” Nicol said.

“If two of us are chatting on Allo, saying, ‘why don’t we meet in Marrickville for dinner’, during that conversation we can @google within the conversation and ask for restaurant recommendations,” he explained.

“That will pop a bubble into the conversation listing three restaurants in Marrickville, allowing both of us to see it and even book, all within the app.”

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