When brands and messaging platforms collide: how brands will grow on messaging platforms

March 7, 2017

Perspective

Written by Paul Crary | Periscope Engagement Strategist

Through Periscope’s recent innovation and emerging technology initiatives, I was fortunate enough to take a deep-dive exploration into the quickly evolving topic of messaging — namely how brands are taking advantage of the extremely popular form of communication — and present my findings to my peers in a public forum.

On the surface, messaging can seem pretty straightforward and simple. However, as you dig deeper into the topic you realize there are a lot of nuances and differences from culture to culture. So when I decided how to organize my information, I looked at a subsection of the world that adopted tech-forward messaging apps long before North America did. That place is on the eastern coast of Asia in China, Korea and Japan.

Apps like WeChat in China give us (North Americans) a glimpse into what our messages and messaging apps can soon become. The level of adoption and utility they provide brands and companies is unprecedented. For example, brands in Asia can seamlessly take sales leads and conversations from social networks like Instagram and move to a familiar chat app with the consumer to complete the purchase of a product.

WeChat has so many apps built on top of it that it looks more like an entire iPhone home-screen than a place to hold conversations via messages. For example, with WeChat in China, you can order a taxi, check your bank account and even buy movie tickets. In the USA, we would have to use separate apps to accomplish each of those tasks.

With WeChat, financial and monetary transactions are handled seamlessly in-app. Think Venmo + text messaging in the same app. It’s an extremely powerful and useful combination.

Back in North America, platforms and apps are quickly catching up to the messaging scene we currently see in Asia.

In June 2016, Apple revamped iOS 10, and gave it a major overhaul. One major update was the ability for brands and apps alike to build on top of messages. Android has recently taken similar steps with its adoption of RCS and more universal standards as well. These changes look eerily similar to what WeChat has done. Brands like SeatGeek and Yoox have already built some extremely sexy and functional apps into the messaging ecosystem. It’s happening.

Overall, these changes in North America will provide more rich messaging experiences like those users of WeChat, Line and Kakao Talk have become accustomed to in Asia. Using WeChat in China as a model to predict the future of messaging as it unfolds in North America is a solid approach.

Now that messaging tech has opened up to brands, we’re going to begin seeing brands seamlessly insert themselves into messaging conversations in new and innovative ways. Whether it’s building m-commerce platforms, CRM interfaces and implementation, mobile messaging games, or even just cool new stickers or emojis — the path for brands to engage with messages has never been so clear.

Lastly, people are now expecting robust messaging capabilities from brands. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report stated that the majority of Gen Yers (born 1981–1999) prefers internet, web chat and social media when communicating with a brand. This preference is likely to continue to grow. Gone are the days of calling a customer service line via the telephone.

Social networks and platforms also know this. Facebook has made it easier than ever for brands and consumers to hold Facebook Messenger conversations.

Brands like Marriot have gone all-in on messaging as a means to provide the best customer service to their guests, and airlines like KLM have embraced Facebook Messenger ChatBots to provide never-before-seen intimacy and information to their consumers. The best brands and companies are embracing messaging — not running away from it.

Consumers are beginning to get comfortable with this level of messaging intimacy with brands. Now brands need to be equipped and prepared to message their consumers back.

At Periscope, we work under the simple mission of “Do Things People Love.” There’s no doubt that people love messaging, which gives us all the more reason to continue to make messaging a high-priority media and communication channel for our clients' brands.