All Roads Lead to Mobile Messaging

Last week at F8, Facebook’s massive annual developer conference, the big news was bots—specifically on Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app. Messenger has a increasing user base of 900 million users per month – very enticing for companies eager to get their wares in front of customers. Facebook is turning Messenger into an open platform where any company can now build a chatbot that users can talk with. If you’re an airline, you can build a chatbot to book flights; if you’re OpenTable you can build a chatbot to allow reservations, you can even call an Uber – one-touch marketing.

People don’t use a ton of apps, and they don’t download many either. The reason is simple: There’s an enormous amount time spent with learning about a new app, downloading it, signing up for it, and then remembering you even have it. And this is why the rise of the chatbot makes sense.

The promise of chatbots is that from within Facebook Messenger you can do anything you’d like with the speed and ease that would be impossible if you were toggling between numerous apps. Moreover, because you’re already in Messenger, there’s no need to sign up all over again if you’re trying out a new service. Messenger already knows who you are. 

Your Facebook profile becomes the foundation of your online identity.

Once you start a conversational thread, your transaction history is right there, threaded into a cohesive stream of conversation that you and the bot can access.

With 15 million businesses using pages and 1.6 billion people using Facebook, actionable conversations can now come together in threads that are contextual and almost sacred. For the lifetime of the interactions everything stays in one place, unlike email.”

Chatbots in Kik and other messaging apps work much like this already, with guided options that push your chat along. But “Facebook believes that the future will yield deeper and deeper integrations between the chatbots and the sensors and data on your phone.

cnn-facebook-messenger-bot
courtesy Facebook, via Variety.com

Soon, we’ll see how well consumers engage with these features & developments, which really have been around since the days of IRC, if you think about it. Only users will decide if they really are faster and more fluid than apps; the proof will be in the numbers. With users reportedly sharing less on Facebook each year, it makes sense for them to create a business-friendly platform, with less and less need for Facebook proper.

Millennials Need All Five Senses Considered

When marketing to millennials, brands must consider all five senses. Their eyes are always looking, ears are always listening and fingers are always, ALWAYS typing, but figuring out how to tap in with millennials is an ongoing challenge for marketers. They must be met exactly where their attention is with an authentic, genuine message promoted by someone they trust. So let’s check in to their five senses…

Sight: What are they watching? 

Digital is the BEST way to reach millennials. This has been said over and over. But the facts remain:

  • There will be 78 million millennial digital video viewers, representing more than 92% of all U.S. millennial Internet users, according to eMarketer.
  • The above is coupled with the fact that of millennials who are consuming traditional TV, 65% are using a second, third, or more screens to consume content simultaneously, according to Verizon.
  • With multiple screens vying for their attention, millennials are texting while watching TV, or watching digital video as they video chat with friends, or engaging with more screens than just that. How about that AMC Theaters allowing texting during movies scare? Oh, for goodness sake.

With that, we know the connection to content is constant.

In today’s influential world, Millennials are more likely to listen to and be influenced by their favorite YouTube superstars compared to professional athletes. According to VideoInk in 2015, millennials watch 11.3 hours of free online video per week and 8.3 hours of TV per week on average. In the YouTube vs. TV battle, marketers should be mindful that millennials hail YouTube as the ultimate winner.

Hearing: What are they listening to?

In terms of music, Millennials are discovering and enjoying music differently than the generations before them. Younger listeners spend on average 25 hours a week streaming music from a variety of online services, according to Vevo’s new “Music Fan Report”.

screenshot-2015-09-24-at-10-27-43-pm

Via Variety.com

Brands need to be sure they’re mixing things up where these Millennials ears are ringing.

Touch: What methods are they using to communicate?

A millennial’s communication originates in their hands. Everything starts on their mobile phones, including snaps, Facebook posts, Instagram tags, and Tweets.  89% of adults ages 18-29 use some form of social media, according to the Pew Research Center. Millennials are finding new ways to engage with their friends, family, and their communities every day. That means that brands and other organizations must do the same to stay relevant and in front of their target audiences. Snapchat is a great example of a company leading the way, instead of following trends and adapting.

Taste: How do millennials prefer their content?

Of course content has to be informative, enjoyable, passionate, funny, original and unexpected, but for brands – IT NEEDS TO BE SHAREABLE. Period. But what do they REALLY like? AdWeek hit up many millennials and summed up a few things – click the image:

fea-millennial-mosaic-01-2014.jpg

Via AdWeek

Smell: What products are they ultimately choosing, and why?

Millennials may not be relying only on their noses to remember their favorite products, they can sniff out when they’re being marketed to. According to Animoto, two out of three say that they will stop watching a video if they feel the tone is too promotional. Brand loyalty is influenced heavily by whether they think they can trust a brand and by what others highly recommend to them, from the shoes on their feet to the snacks they eat and the apparel they wear. Fifty percent of millennials say that being real, genuine and authentic are the most important factors with regards to distinguishing favorite brands, products or services. Keller Fay Group has enormous amounts of data on this group.

To sum up, Millennials are consuming original content that has an authentic voice, connects to them personally and provides a message that they relate to and possible share. In order to succeed, brands need to be active & multi-sensory in the space that millennials are interacting otherwise they just won’t reach this demographic holistically.

Snapchat Overview: Why I Started To Snap

Snapchat may not yet have the following of the other more established players in the social space, yet its growth continues as it becomes more influential through its capacity to introduce new innovations that keep the app ahead of the game. Every week there seems to be new features to try out.

Snapchat first made waves with content that would disappear after 10 seconds or less. But where many other apps have hung their hat on their initial premise, and have been unable to hold that initial attention as a result, Snapchat’s gone on to introduce additional, industry-leading functions to keep their primarily young audience base coming back for more – and tapping into an arena where brands need to play.

A bit of history: They introduced Stories in late 2013, geofilters in mid 2014 and the lenses in September 2015. Just last month, Snapchat announced a major revamp of their messaging features. In my opinion, their ability to remain loyal and responsive to their audience needs and interests, and continuously deliver on new features to them, is what keeps the app top of mind, and keeps their users glued to their devices.

Snapchat’s 100 million daily active users are now contributing more than eight billion video views on the platform every day. Per day.

And now… the introduction of new emoji stickers for videos.

via GIPHY

The stickers are like any other emoji, but they move and scale in proportion to the actual video. It’s odd looking – but then again, this is the platform that popularized “rainbow vomit.” Am I right?

Video stickers are interesting and interactive – and you can immediately see how this new feature will be popular among Snapchat’s fan base. Oh, you kids!

Snapchat Unveils New Video Stickers Tool | Social Media TodayAccording to TechCrunch, Eitan Pilipski, an engineer who Snapchat recently recruited from augmented reality company Vuforia assisted in its development. Vuforia is a shop that strives to help brands generate vision-based data and computing, including mapping 3-D objects into real-world video – for example, enabling gamers to overlay 3-D objects into a physical space via their tablet device.

If Snapchat’s other innovations are anything to go by, I’d expect to see other platforms looking to implement similar in the near future, especially if the option continues to be popular among Snapchat’s user base. And, this all coming on the heels of this week’s f8 Conference with the use of bots, AR, VR, and AI, of course.

So, why have I started using Snapchat?

[You can ‘Snap’ me at hotleadsnaps]

Understanding the way people communicate, share news, endorse brands, products and services, and stay engaged is a passion of mine. And Snapchat’s ability to stay on trend and avoid becoming another teen fad that dies out truly does keep my interest. Testing, using, adopting and understanding the latest technology and features is the best way to understand how people will use it, behave around it, and in the end – think of it.

The regularity with which Snapchat has been able to execute new innovations and keep users coming back bodes well for its future. They are never just trying to play catch up. They create its own trends and lead the way, showing how in touch they are with their core users.
Again, it’s not as big as the established players, for sure, but it’s getting there. I suggest you stop ignoring it and pay a visit to ‘Michael Platco’ and his friends to join the party. A list of more Snapchat folks that are killing it can be found via Inc.com here. And for brands that are killing it, check out this rundown.

Audience Building Is Not a Spectator Sport

Building an audience from scratch and fostering meaningful conversations is intuitive and normal for individual people, but an obvious challenge for brands. From traditional marketing tactics to experiential, digital and word of mouth (including social media), marketers can’t sit idly by and just expect that their customers are engaged with their brand, or that most of them even want to engage. Yes, social media allows millions of active users globally to compete for attention, but if all of us are now publishers, who really listens?

Are we all slaves to our digital platforms? Or can we go back to the basics? Define your audience, reach out to them in person and online, engage them with what they like and want, ensure authentic conversation, create experiences and share products that relate to them so they not only stick around, they bring more people along with them.

As technologist and founder of Kapuno (an online community platform for niche discussions), Cyrus Radfar says in his recent post, “Social media isn’t going anywhere, but as it continues to get harder and harder to win the channels, the social proof communities can provide will help niche communities work together to spread the messages they decide are important through the more mass-market feeds.” He closes with a call to action, “Find your community and help build it, because that is where the next generation is going when they realize that social media won’t afford them a voice.”In every conversation we have with our clients, whether we’re in the “nice to meet you” phase, executing mid-program, or recapping our work, we consistently reinforce how an engaged community is crucial to a brand’s Integrated Marketing Communications success.

Encouraging our clients to push through Integrated Marketing to what we coined as an Integrated Engagement Plan is an achievable goal if done right, and will complete the circle of consumer to advocate for a brand. Our formula: 

Integrated Marketing Communications:

  • Brand & Agency Collaboration
  • Aim: Ensure consistency of message & complementary media use
  • Marketing to Consumers

Integrated Engagement Plan:

  • Brand, Agency & Consumer Collaboration
  • Aim: Sustained “On-Brand” Conversation led by Advocates
  • Engagement, Amplification & Recruitment with Brand Advocates
  • Marketing with Consumers & Advocates

Community and audience building goes a long way when fostering authentic brand love. It also requires marketers to think and act differently, even in the planning stages.