What are these private platforms? Why are they so popular? And what are the main opportunities for brands?
Private Platforms and Users
Private platforms are mobile applications that give to user the total control of what they want to share and to who. This can include various types of messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Line or WeChat but also videos or photos apps with Snapchat and live apps as well.
Contrary to Social network apps, chat apps are not originally made to broadcast content, they are more about instant communication and direct exchanges between users.
The gap between these two types of platform is getting thinner and thinner due to the development of messaging app’s features. However, the trend proves that the enthusiasm of people is switching from social networks to instant messaging.
These platforms are increasingly popular because they are fitting to the young generation needs. Indeed, Millennials aspire to new ways of communicating and messaging apps seems to be the most adapted one.
Chat apps offer completely free services (for the moment at least) and are a good alternative to SMS and MMS. People only need to be connected to the Internet to use the app, which is not a problem anymore knowing that Wifi is accessible nearly everywhere.
Messaging apps also respond to the Millennials’ need of instantaneity. They are convenient ways for them to exchange and interact within a private environment. The fact that messaging apps are indeed closed ecosystem is very valuable for users who are seeking for more privacy and tend to be more self-oriented.
Finally, Millennials give more and more importance to experience and are looking for easy ways to connect with their brands.
The communication is changing and brands marketing strategies must evolve accordingly. Brands need more than ever to be appealing and to build a relationship with their audience. In this context, messaging apps are a goldmine! Brands have a new communication channel to reach and engage users.
Messaging apps have a higher retention rate than the other apps which can be very beneficial to companies willing implement a long-term strategy. They gathered a massive database of users who want to have everything within easy reach.
Platforms grasp the opportunity to provide more and more marketing options. Indeed, the first move of these free apps was to increase their user-base as much as possible to become big players. They are now adapting their business model to gain in profitability, by exploiting user’s knowledge.
#1 – Banners and Sponsored Advertisements to display branded content
After a long period of locking to advertisers, WeChat is offering more and more advertising solutions. The app proposes for example a banner (picture or video), sponsored or branded posts in Moments. In the same mood, Snapchat offers sponsored advertisements in its platform.
On Wechat, a publisher can target specific groups of people according to their location, interest, age, gender, device and phone network. For example, a publisher can choose to advertise 17 industries including: education, travel, finance, car, real estate, home product, clothing, food & beverage, life-style service, business service, beauty product, internet/IT, sport, medicine & health, pregnancy products, and games.
However, all messaging apps are not equal in terms of advertising solutions; define in first your goals, targets and strategy. Then you can choose the platform and digital support to reach your audience.
#2 – Key opinion leaders to propose sponsored content
KOL are influencers on social media who gather a huge volume of followers, for some of them few millions. They are usually used by brands to communicate, increase brand awareness and sell products. It is an efficient way to reach consumers in a private platform and boost marketing campaigns.
Influencers are very active and enable to target a specific audience. Using KOL gives credibility to a brand which benefits from the loyalty and the trust of its influencer’s followers.
#3 – Official Account and MiniApps to engage users with your content
Companies can also use platforms as a leverage to increase their exposure and ameliorate the customer’s experience by creating Official account or Mini apps. Users are able to directly connect with their brands and get promotional contents. It’s a different marketing approach compared to sponsored advertisement because the initiative of following the company in a first place is coming from the customer.
Messenger and WeChat are examples of platforms where it is possible to develop these features. Indeed, Wechat counts more than 10 million official accounts and can even serve as an e-commerce platform.
Thus, Official accounts and MiniApps are for brands a window within messaging apps with a great potential.
#4 – Innovative tools propose added value and involve followers
Another variable that brands should consider is the development of technologies and the creation of innovative tools inside applications. Chat Applications are integrating Bots which are intelligent and automated programs that are developed to be self-sufficient and respond to a certain type of tasks.
Every bot are smart, most of them are really intelligent but innovations are booming. This technology is a big move in the reinforcement of the communication between companies and clients. Indeed, people can now talk to their brand, ask for advices or information on products. This is a significant improvement of customer services and it provides a new client experience.
“There’s already a big opportunity now that brands are starting to understand messaging apps, and chatbots are a great entry point.”
Sephora has understood the value of this tool by developing a Chatbot on messaging apps.
It’s becoming a huge challenge for companies to exploit messaging apps. Marketers must adapt their strategies and include these apps in their landscape. It is a way to build a more intimate link with customers and gain their loyalty. However, this exercise is tricky as users’ expectations have been evolving and users are looking for more authenticity. These new marketing channels are also blurrier than other social media platforms as they are less measurable, therefore brands need a strong understanding of this ecosystem to run efficient campaigns.