Move over, email. The age of mobile messaging is upon us.
According to Juniper, mobile messaging is set to overtake email this year as the most popular digital communications platform. Whether it’s WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or any number of other instant messaging options, mobile messaging apps are quickly becoming the preferred communications medium worldwide.
For content marketers, mobile messaging presents both a valuable opportunity and a tough challenge. Just how marketers can tap into messaging apps is still emerging. But with so many people across the globe using these programs to communicate, it’s clearly a potential marketing tool that can’t be ignored.
The numbers help tell the story: more than 43 million messages will be sent on platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat (among others), surpassing email for the first time. Over 160 trillion instant messages will be sent by 2019, Juniper predicts.
Mobile messaging apps are also the fastest-growing app category worldwide, according to eMarketer. Messaging app usage grew 316 percent year over year, compared to 115 percent growth across total mobile app categories.
U.S. smartphone users are certainly playing a role in the increase, but interestingly, Americans aren’t blazing the trail. Compared to global counterparts, messaging app usage by U.S. users is relatively low. In Spain, for example, 86 percent of mobile users utilize mobile messaging, compared to just 23 percent in the U.S., eMarketer notes. This could be because U.S. consumers have less cost-related pressures to move away from voice calling.
Depending on the country, the app du jour may vary. WeChat, which originated in China, claims 600 million registered users, including 100 million outside of China, Tech Changers reports. WhatsApp originated in the U.S. but is the largest messaging app in Brazil, South Africa, and India. In the U.S, Facebook Messenger still reigns supreme. Other messaging apps like Viber, Line, Skype, and Snapchat may not be as widely used, but still claim hundreds of millions of registered users between them.
The proliferation of messaging apps—each with subtly different interfaces and features—presents a content marketing challenge. Mobile messaging forces brands to rethink what kind of content they create. But in a messaging app world, content is highly personal; messaging is a one-to-one, private conversation. Whoever is on the other end of the message should feel like they’re being spoken to directly by the brand.
That means brands need content that works natively for each platform. A brilliant how-to article, while perfect for the web, won’t work on Snapchat. And what works on Snapchat may not work as well as a tweet. As messaging apps open up more opportunities for marketers, content marketers will need to build finely tuned, personal content for each platform—and seek ways to scale it up.
Some brands are already bringing content into the messaging environment. Absolute Vodka created a WhatsApp account for Sven, a virtual bouncer at an exclusive Absolut event in Argentina. WhatsApp users had to engage with Sven before getting a party invite.
On Snapchat, the stars of HBO’s “Girls” posted snaps from the red carpet premiere and shared other exclusive content throughout the season. McDonald’s used Japan-based Line to share coupons and other deals with customers in that country.
These campaigns have a few things in common: the content offered is tailored to the medium, it’s exclusive, and it’s shareable. Going forward, brands will likely be creating more content in the same vein, aimed at an audience of one.
For more ideas on how to create top quality content, check out Skyword’s infographic on successful content.