Is private messaging the future of social media?

Is private messaging the future of social media?

Door Carlijn Palthe
Private messaging apps are becoming more and more popular, showing an even bigger growth than traditional social media networks. According to Business Insider, more people are using social messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber compared to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

** Derived from a previous article written for Marketing Tribune**
This massive growth isn’t very surprising. After all, we have an increasing need for “real” contact. We can already observe the algorithms of social media platforms adjusting to this. For example, Snapchat has decided to place messages from companies in a separate tab and Facebook prioritizes messages from friends and family in users’ timelines.
While this may be good news for (most) users, that is not so much the case for brands. Experts estimate that about 84% of the messages are shared privately. This means that brands no longer have a clue about what is being said online about them, which was one of the greats advantages of social media. An even greater advantage to social media was brands being able to participate in the conversation. With the latter becoming less of an option, the question arises: how should brands handle the shift from “public” to “private”?
To answer the question, we first need to look at the reason for this shift. Private messaging has gained in popularity because it solves two important issues: urgency and trust. When it comes to the response time of brands of social media, we all have developed high expectations. Besides that, private messaging also brings back the trust to social media, which is a very welcome change since the privacy discussion of the past years. A private conversation simply feels more intimate – people know who they are talking to.
For brands, now is the time to act on this sentiment. Private messaging offers many great new opportunities to get in touch with your target group – again. In private messages we share more intimate things and we connect at a deeper level. This way, you can really make a personal connection with your target audience. And since we are more influenced by the people we know (or, at least, that we think we know), this is also the ideal vessel for your conversions. After all, it’s quite easy to deliver super relevant offers directly via private messages.
Are you wondering how private messaging is put into practice? Below are three examples that demonstrate how to use private messaging as a brand.
Chatbots have been around for some time, but they are mainly used for customer service. Of course, when you look at the urgency issue and people’s high expectations, this is an ideal solution: people receive a response to their message just within a few seconds. However, chatbots can go beyond customer service, with a lot of possibilities in the field of entertainment. The “Christian Gray” chatbot is perhaps one of the best examples (yes, the one of “Fifty shades”…). Via the chatbot, fans had a chance to talk to Christian Gray in person, start a relationship with him, and even get married. Fans of the books and films absolutely loved this and there was a massive interaction. Of course, in the conversations with “Christian”, the books, the film and the soundtrack were mentioned and recommended, sliding in the commercial purpose, but in a subtle, casual way.
Voice messages
Like a lot of people, I enjoy a daily news update in the morning. For me, that means watching the news every morning on RTL. Nowadays, you can also receive a voice message from their presentator, Jan de Hoop, at 7AM via Whatsapp. The message takes about two minutes and gives you a short summary of the news. Since not everyone has the time or the inclination to sit down and watch the news in the morning, it is incredibly smart how RTL anticipated on the fact people are consuming news differently. On top of that, the message makes you feel like Jan has recorded this message especially for you – quite a nice touch to it, no?
Branded GIFs
There is no content format as shareable as GIFs. Giphy is the most famous search engine for this and it is also integrated in most messaging apps. This allows users to search for GIFs within the app. The advantage for brands? Via Giphy, you can add your own relevant, funny and (subtly) branded GIFs. This way, your brand becomes part of the conversation without blatantly pushing your content.

Convinced yet? Now is the time to step up your game in private messaging. You might not reach the masses this way, but it offers plenty of other benefits that may be of even greater value. Think about how you can start the conversation through private messaging. What added value can you offer to your target group like this?

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