The Content Imperative
The latest on content marketing strategy, insights and trends

Tom Chapman
Business Development Director

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The ultimate guide to messaging apps

| 8 January 2015

In our ‘5 content marketing predictions for 2015’ we declared that messaging apps will require more attention and experimentation by brands this year.  It’s not really a bold declaration, more of an obvious statement that marketers need to review the opportunities messaging apps will represent for their brands.  

The stats for messaging app popularity and usage speak for themselves. Globally Snapchat experienced its user base increase faster YoY in comparison to Facebook for app installs in 2014, and specifically for a female millennial audience the app forms an important part of their daily repertoire.  
Facebook owned Whatsapp continues to dominate the mobile messaging app category in the UK.  Globally it has more than 600 million users and 70% of those return daily to use the app.

Because messaging apps have such a high penetration and daily usage, we should begin to see more experimentation from brands.  As an agency we will be looking to push the creative boundaries, finding new ways to get closer to our target audience within these platfoms. 

Marketers, who have already looked at messaging app potential, have found that the biggest challenge the apps represent is that their ‘viral’ potential is limited.  Messaging apps are not designed to share content outside of the platform.  However, this challenge can be overcome through a little manipulation and creative thinking.  

Specifically for Whatsapp, we can indeed look toward how brands have adapted in mobile first countries such as India for inspiration.  The BBC unlocked the size of a Whatsapp group from 50 to ‘unlimited’ to broadcast visual content to a huge audience during the 2014 Indian elections. The BBC has continued to innovate with Whatsapp for its Ebola service.  

Brands should further consider allowing their content to be shareable amongst Whatsapp similar to Buzzfeed who are seeing more clicks on their Whatsapp sharing buttons than Twitter.

For retail brands focussed on capturing email data, why not consider capturing audience mobile numbers via a Whatsapp widget?  Using the same method as email we can broadcast visually rich content via Whatsapp to end users.  Users can simply opt in and opt out of the service.  Regarding communicating flash sale tactics, getting your message to your audience at the right time on Whatsapp could be more immediate than Twitter, Facebook and email, as users check their mobile more frequently. 

We here at Headstream have previously looked in detail at Snapchat and how the platform can and already has been used successfully by brands as part of their marketing campaigns.

For our own clients who target Millennials we have recommended that to ensure they are meeting the right audience on the right channel at the right time, their 2015 budgets should allow for adjustment and experimentation on messaging platforms.

We advocate the 70-20-10 model when it comes to innovation and experimentation.  70% of budget and resources are allocated to standard content that appeals to the largest audience, 20% is moderately risky content that would appeal to a new audience and 10% is challenging content which is more risky but has the potential to disrupt and open up new communication opportunities for a brand.  
This simple model allows marketers to keep up with the fast paced and ever changing marketing landscape not to mention testing and learning to see if and how you are reaching Millennials.