Why Everyone’s Talking about Messaging Platforms

I attended the Festival of Marketing in London last week. This is a fantastic event with a packed schedule, great speakers and real-life stories.

These events often call out the current themes. Yes we’re still talking about customer first, yes we’re still talking about data and yes we’re still talking about social engagement. But a new murmur going around the halls of Tobacco Dock was messaging as the new platform.

For years the OS of your mobile device was the platform and we all saw the battle of the apps. Jostling for space and attention, billions of apps were created and a mere handful of them were actually used, let alone used more than once. There is an argument for app development to give a brand real estate on the phone – but that is at risk of being an egotistical measure. What is the value of a redundant app, not being used, not converting?

So it makes sense that eyes of the industry have turned to the number 1 used app on the OS real-estate, the messaging app. We are all familiar with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger – enabling us to freely talk to anyone, share photos and get carried away with emojis!

However, the messaging platform is evolving, fast.

If you haven’t already done so, go into a chat and select the ‘more’ option and you will be met with Flipboard, GIFjam, KitCut, Memes, QuizChat and other social enhancement downloads to bring another layer to your messaging experience. This may seem just a bit of fun, but rumours have been floating about the commercialisation of WhatsApp and I’m sure this isn’t far from the minds of the Facebook Messenger team.

This opens up a whole new medium for brands to engage. The challenge is that messaging platforms are a bit like texts in that these are personal channels. What is our response to B2C marketing messages via SMS? There is a high risk that this could be the same fate on messaging platforms.

It is about intelligent messaging, contextual, relevant, meaningful. A great example of leveraging the messaging platform to provide a service is Payfriendz. They provide a way for people to send and receive payments in a fun, sociable way across a messaging platform. Importantly they recognised the role of messaging platforms with millennials – and designed for their audience.

Wechat is an example of a messaging platform that’s gone fully B2C “…Wechat did over $100 million in e-commerce sales on Singles Day (China’s biggest shopping day), books over 20 million taxi rides a month and over $1 billion in 2014 revenues through gaming…” China has been an early adopter of messaging platforms for commerce and sales where-as US and European uptake has been slower. Trends are showing this is changing and I for one am looking forward to seeing, and maybe even in part informing, the evolution of messaging.

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