Tag Archives: whatsapp

New Social Order: Why Everything You Learned About Social Media is Wrong?

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“Messaging is the new web browser. Everyone has a phone. Everyone has a favourite messaging app on their phone. If your new thing can message people via those apps, then anyone can engage with you.”

Matt McAlister (Guardian) 

Social media has been good to me. I used to work in MySpace in its heyday. I mostly made my name after that doing many succesful Facebook campaigns. I have exploited all the useful social media channels in promoting my books, parties and whatever else I have been doing. Majority of readers to this blog come from Twitter and LinkedIn.

That being said, social media is not what it used to be. It has become big business. It has become boring. It has become predictable. Essentially social media has reached the adulthood.

Marketers took a while to learn the ropes of social media. Now we have to unlearn everything we knew about social media if we want to succeed in the new marketplace:

  1. Social media listening is becoming meaningless

70% of the social discussions cannot be tracked because they happen in ”dark social” e.g. in messenger platforms and to lesser extend e-mail and SMS (older demographics). All the social media listening tools are focusing heavily on Twitter with some Instagram and Facebook mixed in. That is hardly a representative of almost any audience. Social media listening tools focus on Twitter because it is easy to monitor. That is like only doing biceps at the gym, because it is the most convenient movement to do. The reality is that you don´t know what your audience is talking about in digital and most likely will not be able to know in the near future.

Regard social media listening as a pulse (or weak signal) of what is happening, but not the full accurate picture of your audience and what they are talking about. Unless your audience are ”social media gurus” and celebrities.

  1. Engagement with your audience is a myth

Facebook is not social media; it is paid media. There is no organic reach for the brands anymore. You have to approach Facebook with same tools and methods as TV (expect with slightly better targeting opportunities). The most interesting bit about Facebook is the whole ecosystem with WhatsApp, FB Messenger and Instagram. Referring to previous point, we might not know what people are talking on WhatsApp but soon we can target ads based on what they are talking.

Forget always-on, approach Facebook through campaigns. Do less, but bigger things. For smaller things, automate as much as possible.

  1. Chatbots are the magic bullet to bring utility to social and make brands meaningful

The whole digital experience will start to revolve around messengers. The real value brands can bring is not in human relationships, but in human-machine relationships. Community manager –model is not sustainable as it requires actual people running it. Seeing a social post of pizza will not improve your life, but ability to order pizza from the messenger will (or make it worse depending on how many pizzas you eat a week). Conversational commerce will be the biggest opportunity for the brands in the short run to become meaningful in digital sphere.

Define how you can bring value to your audience through messenger with chatbots. Move fast because your competitors are most likely thinking about the same things as well.

  1. Influencers and partnerships are the key to borrow relevance

Ad-blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. Whether your ad is in Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the default setting for your audience will be to block it. Only way to overcome ad-blocking is Again brands should not play in human-human relationships, but as an enhancer and enabler of star-human relationship. You have to start working with relevant influencers and start creating native content with the relevant media entitities. The answer to ad-blocking is not making better ads, because once you have blocked your ads you will not unblock them just because quality of interruptions has improved.

Go where your audience is and play with their rules.

  1. Forget social media

Like said earlier, the digital behavior will start (has already started) to revolve around messengers. That will be a melting pot of social, mobile and eCommerce and you have to understand that whole melting pot to succeed in the new marketplace. Our audience is not slicing and dicing their life. Messengers are lifeline of their whole existence and there is no boundaries between real-life and digital.

Your audience does not live in silos. You should not select your vendors to specialize in silos either. 

New social order has been here for already quite a while. Is your company ready for it?

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#sometrendit2016: The Only 2016 Social Media Trends You Should Read

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As the year approaches the end, it has become an annual tradition for me take a look at crystal ball and share my views with Kurio Social Media Agency on the next year´s social media trends.

For those adapt at Finnish, I recommend reading the whole report. If you are not interested in the predictions of 28 other Finnish digital marketers, you can also jump straight to the most important ones (mine) below.

Before I go into my answers, I have to quote myself from the last year:

I have to say that I have not been interested in social media as such for a long time. Do not get me wrong. Social plays crucial role in digital business. But I seldom think digital as a separate entity either: digital is air. Digital, mobile and social should be a part of every business. Sometimes at the core, sometimes playing supporting role and sometimes playing no role at all. Strategy is about deciding what to do, but even more importantly what not to do. If you are thinking social media as a separate unit you are missing the bigger picture. 

The dominance of digital universe goes well beyond our traditional silos.

And here are the bold/boring predictions of 2016:

  1. 1. Biggest Social Media Trend in 2016?

Internet will be build more and more upon instant messaging. We have moved to the latest phase of Internet: the Age of Messaging. What is most interesting, who will be the master of that era? If previous phase was the Age of Social and Facebook was the undisputed king, is it able to keep its lead? Currently it seems with the dual-strategy of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that Facebook will continue to dominate.

2. Social media platforms to look out for 2015?
Last year I was speculating about anonymous messaging and those services were not able to live up the hype. On the same speculative tip, I would keep an eye on live-streaming platforms like Periscope. It is easy to recognize the opportunities Periscope can bring to the brands. Bigger question is will they be truly interesting to actual users?

It is worthwhile to keep an eye on WeChat, because what it does today in China, Facebook will do in western world tomorrow with its Facebook messenger.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2015?

The huge portion (probably somewhere around 3/4) of sharing in social media is so-called “dark social”. This means that social media listening gives one-sided and even totally faulty picture about what people are really talking about. People share where the brands play no role.

This is great for consumers, because brands are not ruining your conversation or begging you to like them. It makes our work way more difficult. Established channels like FB and YouTube are 100% paid media. To some IM services you cannot get even when you are paying. There is no such thing as earned media anymore.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2015?

Content marketing.

Despite all the hoopla about native advertising and new content agencies, the division of labor is simple. In Internet there is only good (or bad) content or good (mostly bad) ads. Ad agencies have shown that they cannot truly create content and content marketers have not been good at creating ads (which essentially move products of the shelves). There is role for both counterparts, but it is utter stupidity to think that you could replace one with another. Or that one agency could be great at creating both of them.

To see what I have been predicting in previous years, see the following links:

Social Media trends 2013

Social Media trends 2014

Social Media trends 2015

 

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The Only 2015 Social Media Trends You Need to Read This Year

As the year approaches the end, it has become an annual tradition for me take a look at crystal ball and share my views to Kurio Digital Marketing Think Thank on the next year´s social media trends. For those adapt at Finnish, I recommend reading the whole report in here. If you are not interested in the predictions of 26 other Finnish digital marketers, you can also jump straight to the most important ones (mine) below.

Before going through the actual answers, I have to say that I have not been interested in social media as such for a long time. Do not get me wrong. Social plays crucial role in digital business. But I seldom think digital as a separate entity either: digital is air. Digital, mobile and social should be a part of every business. Sometimes at the core, sometimes playing supporting role and sometimes playing no role at all. Strategy is about deciding what to do, but even more importantly what not to do. If you are thinking social media as a separate unit you are missing the bigger picture. The dominance of digital universe goes well beyond our traditional silos.

Having got that off my chest, here are my most important social media trends for 2015:

1. Biggest Social Media Trend in 2015?

One-Size does not fit all
No more social media army knives. Consumers demand services excelling in one feature instead of having multiple mediocre features crammed into one. It is no longer about maximizing users in one single service (Facebook), but maximizing the time spent on the whole ecosystem (WhatsApp, Instagram, FB Messenger). How different services will or not be integrated together is big strategic question and will have implications on what channels companies should be using to reach their target audience.

2. Social media platforms to look out for 2015?

Anonymous and Interest-based networks
Anononymous chat apps (i.e. Whisper & Secret) are definitely interesting. It remains to be seen, can they do the jump to the next level like Snapchat has done.
Even in 2014 discussion forums are still alive and kicking. This is one proof that, there is demand for interest-based social network with underlying idea ”It is not who you are, but what you are interested in”. Ello cannot make it and current anynomous chat apps focus more on filth, rumors and spying. All of those activities are naturally great, but is it enough for these apps to make it to the major league is a billion dollar valuation question.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2015?

Wrong teams doing wrong things with wrong budgets to wrong clients
From business logic perspective, Facebook and YouTube are more traditional advertising than social media. When you sponsor a post in Facebook, you should invest as much or even more to it than to a print ad. Emphasizing the verb “should”. Many marketers have not understood the shift in dynamics in digital marketing. Facebook is new print. YouTube is the new TV. Some marketers still have the illusion that digital is either free or cheap and you do not have to worry about production values. They could not be more wrong.
On the other hand, some marketers misinterpret the rising digital ad prices and increased resemblance to traditional ad buying logic to just pushing your TV ads to YouTube or print ads to Facebook. They could not be more wrong. Although the prices are getting closer, the creative should be drastically different.
Eyeballs cost money and you do not have loopholes for free publicity any more. If you are not ready to take risks, be honest and bold, catching the attention of consumers is even harder, almost impossible regardless of the media budget.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2015?

Ello
There has been a simple reason why I have not written anything about Ello in this blog. It is not interesting at all. Diaspora and Ello are manifestations that consumers are not really that interested in privacy, your personal data usage in advertising or in pretty much anything else that you should be interested as a conscious consumer. The problem is that majority of consumers are not that conscious.

5. Biggest social media wish for the next year?

Wishes are for people, who do not make demands.
I actually read through my last year´s predictions and I still think they are valid stuff as well. So if you did not find trends suitable to your liking in this list, I recommend reading that one.

Happy holidays to every one! I still might have couple of posts left in tank for this year, but soon going for a deserved holiday.

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Who Will Be The Master of Internet Universe?

Web is dead.

That is the title of one of the greatest articles ever written about digital revolution four years ago to Wired. The main points about that brilliant piece are still valid, although speed of mobile revolution surprised many of the players for a while. The main idea of the story is that web starts to resemble more and more traditional industry with handful of players. Web is oligopoly and certain verticals almost resemble monopolies.

If you simplify the consumer-facing web business (so I am excluding infrastructure and other boring things which is where the real money is), it is about three things: products, commerce & advertising. Products enable you to connect to the Internet: smartphones, computers, watches, television sets, fridges and whatnot. Commerce is about being able to buy things from Internet and advertising is what it is: bombarding you with messages to buy more stuff.

Product category as we know it will eventually be commoditized. If you want to remain premium, you have to innovate constantly. That is the only way to remain luxury brand in this realm. Cheap smartphones will eventually beat the premium ones. In the future you are able to connect to Internet in whatever device and you do not really have to pay that much of that privilege.
Where the growth will come? Wearables can be the future winner product category, although they have not really yet taken off. The changes are rapid though. iPad was launched only four years ago, created totally new category and is currently at risk of vanishing because of the phablets. So is the life.
 
Current champions: Apple, Samsung
Challengers: Xiaomi and other cheap manufacturers
Disrupters: Luxury brands (Would connectivity enhance Rolex? I say not, but I might be wrong as well)

Commerce will become even bigger and you are able to buy pretty much everything online. Will all the physical retail vanish? Not necessarily, but the point is not about that. It is about that you are able to buy everything online, and majority of people will do exactly that, because it is more convenient and affordable.
Commerce is the biggest opportunity and a space I follow most closely. Strong brands will definitely start to create their own online retail experiences, which would enable them to bypass the more traditional retail channels. In the next decade there will be lots of turmoil in this category and many big players will fall and new challengers will arise. Biggest challenges are not that much about technology (lots of payment innovations happening), but about logistics.
Second interesting point is that idea of commerce has changed with shared economy. Both Uber and AirBnB are selling physical service, which would not be possible without digital channel. How far collaborative economy can be stretched remains to be seen. It can potentially be really big disruptor to the way we do business in general.
Last point about commerce is the ecosystem approach. Apple makes money constantly through App Store by enabling others to make money. Facebook is building app ecosystem with the acquisition of Instagram, WhatsApp and Parse. Both Amazon and Alibaba are enabling developers to build things on their platform.
 
Current Champions: Amazon, AliBaba, Ebay
Challengers: Google, Facebook, WeChat, Line, Apple (Apple Pay) 
Disrupters: Brands, FMCG brands, Collaborative economy players (Uber, Airbnb…)

Advertising will be important, because people will keep on buying stuff. Stuff makes us happy. More stuff makes us even happier. How are you able to buy that stuff if you do not know that it exists?
Will advertising become smarter in the future? Yes and no. In last decade or so, we have had one revolutionary advertising idea. That is SEM. You show people ads when they actually want to see ads. Contextual advertising and retargeting have been nice inventions, but mainly advertising is still based on interruption (some of it being more relevant like app install ads). One of the most innovative companies in the world, Facebook, makes most of its money by interrupting its users in various ways.
The advertising business is relatively simple: it is all about reach. All of the most successful advertising platforms are based on firstly to reach and then secondly the quality of those who you are reaching. That is unlikely to change. However, the biggest task is to try to narrow the gap between the interruption (advertising) and purchase (commerce). The monetary exchange is the only tangible KPI we have and less you have to travel to do it, the better.

Current Champions: Google, Facebook
Challengers: WeChat, Line, Twitter (was tempted to leave it out completely, but I give it a shot still), “Traditional media companies”(although I do not really have high hopes for their complete digital transformation, but they will remain influential on this space as well)
Disrupters: Amazon (the closer you are to the actual transaction, the less you have to interrupt), Content owners (although none of them has done any major moves and have mainly milked the status quo)

The lines are naturally blurry. The quote from Eric Schmidt summarizes the whole situation:

Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.”

That is also the reason why these big companies are testing weird things and buying obscure companies. Internet has made it easier to disrupt a category and also connect categories in new way. Facebook & Google test drones, so it can bring Internet the people who don´t have it yet. Thus increasing the reach. Amazon tests drones, because shipping is the biggest bottleneck of eCommerce. When your business can start to flourish rapidly, it can also vanish rapidly. There is no time to sleep, because sleep is the cousin of death.

What do you think, who will become the master of the Internet universe?

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Nuttin But A Beats Thang: Apple to The Next Episode

dredaystickers
It has been a real Dre Day, although it is not February 18th.
After long rumor mill, it is finally official. Apple acquired Beats headphones.  The deal has cause quite a lot of buzz around the globe, but I think the deal makes sense from many perspectives:

1. Beats is a good buy.
Buying Beats is not a speculation. Apple is buying a company, who is dominating premium headphones market with over 51% market share (some estimates have it even higher). As Beats is private company there is no public revenue numbers, but there are estimates of 1B of revenue with probably quite high profit margin. Buying 1 billion business for 3 billion is not a long-shot (like WhatsApp acquisition, which had significantly higher price tag) it is pure mathematics. You are buying market leader with an already established business and fast growth.

2. Beats gives Apple a headstart with music streaming service.
Yes, Apple could build their own streaming service, no one doubts that. Having Beats streaming service gives them great launchpad to go into a territory they have neglected. And I would not also worry about negotiating about the rights again. Apple has been quite effective in doing that in the past. Apple CEO Tim Cook stressed the importance of music in the recent interview:

This is all about music, and we’ve always viewed that music was key to society and culture. Music’s always been at the heart of Apple. It’s deep in our DNA. We’ve sold Macs to musicians since the beginning of Macs. And we accelerated the music industry with the digital music revolution with the iPod and the iTunes music store.

When we talk about Apple today, the music has not been on the focus compared to the heyday of iPod & iTunes. This deal makes Apple´s music offering again interesting. The future of music is streaming (although as an avid record collector, the future and past will forever be on vinyl) and that is something where the almighty Steve Jobs was wrong. This acquisition enables Apple to get on the parity with competitors and on the other hand provides Beats Music immediate increase in interest. It is probably no coincidence that Tim Cook mentioned Beats Music as the streaming service which has “gotten it right”.

3. Beats will be an important part of the Apple´s wearable tech puzzle.
You seldom buy companies because of their current state, but because of the current potential. That is where I think this gets really interesting and I am quite sure that Apple will be having some tricks on the sleeves and not just concentrating on music with this acquisition.
iWatch has been rumored for a while. It will probably arrive when you least expect it. It is certain that Apple will enter to the wearables and they will probably do it right as well. Although the wearables have not yet really taken off, believe me eventually they will. We overestimate technological disruption on a short-term and underestimate it on a long-term. Apple has also been massively successful in fulfilling needs of the people, they do not even realize they have.
Beats headphones have been one of the best examples of wearable tech, because they have really nailed the lifestyle aspect. Sound quality is one thing, but you really want to be seen with your Beats headphones. This is something the first wearables have not really grasped. When wearable tech looks ugly only the geekiest early adopters will wear them. And no offence to geeks but they do not start trends. Wearable technology is even more fashion than technology.
Apple has definitely understood this as they have also been recruiting fashion specialists from YSL and Burberry. I don´t believe that is an isolated strategy from the Beats acquisition.

4. Buying beats is getting the right talent
You are hiring Dr. Dre, one of the most legendary music producers ever and Jimmy Iovine, who knows the ins and outs of the music business. Iovine has been also key partner with Apple during the launch iTunes Store. Both are visionaries and can definitely help Apple to shape the future of music and wearable offering. Will they fit in Apple corporate culture? Who knows, but at least you could not hire more capable talent to help you in your future endeavors.

Also I do not really get the talk about how uncharacteristic this acquisition is for Apple.
Yes, they are usually buying smaller and more obscure companies (at least for mainstream audience). Nevertheless they are buying companies.
If you have loaded cash reserves, I don´t understand why you should withdraw from buying other companies. If it makes sense and in this case it does.
Necessary part of evolution of a company is to know when to do something surprising. This was surprising move (initially, not necessarily today because it pretty much just confirmed the rumors), which showcases that Apple does not sway away from being bold.

So put on “The Chronic” on your turntable or your favorite streaming service and:

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Psst… Can I Whisper you A Secret? Anonymous Mobile Messaging Apps Are The Next Big Thing in Digital

Mobile instant messaging is all the rage at the moment. WhatsApp got bought by Facebook for over 19 billionWhopping 73% of China´s online population uses WeChat. The amount of Snapchat users has increased over 67% in the last six months.

Next big thing will be anonymous mobile chatting:

1. There is a demand for anonynomous interest-based social networks
Have you ever wondered why discussion forums still thrive in 2014?
Why I was so amped up about Internet was that I could be able to talk about things I was interested (hiphop, basketball and record collecting) with people all around the world. With my friends I can communicate with every possible method, but finding likeminded people around passion points that new Internet start-ups have not tapped into in a while. Since the demise of MySpace, tech industry has been over-obsessed with friend-based networks and neglected the interest-based connections.

2. Content in anonymous mobile apps is more interesting 
Majority of Facebook content bores the hell out of people. I know that I am not the only one, who could live without a single photo update about “meat trophies” (baby photos), weddings, travel photos and sport achievements (I am guilty of the latter two). Everyone has a role to play in this world and Facebook is the center of humblebrag. It is filled with people trying to give polished side about themselves. Perfection is not really interesting, but the faults are (something marketers should also realize).
At a brief glance my Secret app is filled with dirty stories (both sexual and scatological) and controversial opinions from people who would not post anything of that sort in Facebook. One glance to FB or Twitter puts me to sleep. Posting with your own name puts automatic self-censorship on and usually people overdo it and they just come up with boring stuff.

Anonymity unleashes the real side of the people. In good and bad ways.

But don´t just take my word for it though, advertisers see potential with these applications as well. Combination of mining of the message content and GPS data could provide interesting advertising possibilities. Traditional media has also taken a heed and they are monitoring these apps to get some juicy secrets (usually false ones).

So how you can get started to post your toilet secrets?
Below I have broken down the four most interesting anonymous messaging apps:

Secret
secret-path
Secret is finally available in Android and that might be the tipping point which will propel it to mainstream success.
Basic promise: Share your secrets freely and anonymously. You can upload short posts and images.
Level of anonymity: You will be given an avatar and you can connect Secret with your contact list or find secrets based on the location. This puts interesting twist to usage of Secret as you automatically start to guess whom of your friends is posting the secrets.
Addictiveness: Content is not as explicit as in Whisper but way more interesting than your average FB and Twitter feeds. There seems to be also a steady stream of meaningful discussions in Secret going on. Usage is intuitive and it is the most advanced of the new generation messaging apps.

Whisper
dj
Another anonymous social network gaining popularity at the moment, it is more closer to media company as it has editorial staff headed by former Gawker editor Neetzan Zimmerman.
Basic promise: You can post your secrets in the meme-like format where your text is superimposed on a picture. Whisper also allows sending private messages to users and following topics that interest you most.
Level of anonymity: This app is completely anonymous and does not connect with your contact list.
Addictiveness: The app is messy both from content and functions. The complete anonymity unleashes probably the expressiveness of the users. Because of the private messaging function Whisper is used more to hooking up than other its competitors. Because of the editorial aspects of the app, Whisper is more enjoyable for the passive users as posts can get “viral” based on their algorithm.
 
Yik Yak
yikyak
Yik Yak is taking some cues from other social sites (Reddit) as it is incorporating timeline that consists of purely text updates.
Basic promise: Getting a live feed of what people are saying around you. You can upvote and downvote what is good and what is not. It is mostly targeted to college students.
Level of anonymity: It does not connect to your contact list but connects to your location (everyone in 1.5 mile radius can see the posts)
Addictiveness: Totally related to where you are posting. Being in too crowded area makes content too general but using app where they are no other users feels like having your private party. The look & feel is nicer than Whisper, but not as polished as Secret.

Chance
chance
Chance pretty much brings Chatroulette to mobile.
Basic promise: You can chat with random strangers.
Level of anonymity: Your selfie is taken every time you start a new chat and that acts as an avatar.
Addictiveness: As majority of the users are horny single dudes, expect short conversations if you are not hot girl and plenty of x-rated suggestions.

Naturally being anonymous does not necessarily only result to funny light-hearted frivolous chat. Especially Yik Yak has been getting flak as it has been connected to cyberbullying in High Schools.
It is too early to say are these apps just a passing fad or a sign of something bigger. I believe that there is definitely longer-lasting market for these applications. The founder of 4Chan Christopher  “moot” Poole put it nicely:

“The industry has spent ten years rushing to capitalize on real identity and friendship based networks and now it´s getting turned on to its head.
Now they are rushing to understand the opposite”

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What´s App Facebook? 4 Questions You Need to Ask to Understand The Acquisition of WhatsApp

Facebook´s acquisition of WhatsApp for about 19 billion (!) is the biggest deal ever for venture-capital-backed startup. As far as the money goes, it is naturally mind-boggling amount of cash but strategically I am trying to get my head around this. Four big questions came to my mind, when analyzing the acquisition:

1. What kind of ecosystem Facebook is building?
Currently Facebook is owner of three really strong (and separate) digital platforms: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Despite launching the ad units in Instagram, the photo platform has been relatively autonomous regarding Facebook. Apparently they will continue similar approach with WhatsApp and even more so as there will be no ads (in foreseeable future) in WhatsApp. See more in question 2 on that matter.
If we compare to Google, who builds their entire product offering under strong Google branding and synergies, Facebook currently resembles more of a venture capitalist and having quite separate and independent entities. Either approach is right or wrong, but at least currently Facebook ecosystem seems quite disjointed compared to the Google one. But maybe they have a bigger plan intact: see question 4.

2. How will Facebook monetize WhatsApp?
On the investor call Facebook mentioned that there would be no ads on WhatsApp and they are mainly concentrating on growth in the near future. Currently WhatsApp is free for one year and then you pay 0.99 for every additional year (and not even in all the markets).  Current business model is not exactly breaking the bank as it has quite limited growth opportunities, but compared to many other social ventures coming from Silicon Valley it is already profitable. From monetization standpoint it is interesting opportunity for Facebook to enter also to the subscription business and test it first with WhatsApp before rolling it to wider.

3. Was it strategically right decision?
Initially buying WhatsApp seemed a rather uninspiring and unsurprising act. More forward-looking would have been buying some emerging mobile instant messaging platform from Asia (Line, KakaoTalk, etc.). Especially as Facebook mentioned that the reach in emerging markets was one of the core reasons for acquiring WhatsApp. Asian mobile instant messaging platforms would have been better fit also to current Facebook monetization strategy as these platforms are currently more open to advertising as well? Cynical view of the strategic importance of the buy was that as the main Facebook platform loses steam the growth and engagement had to be bought to please the investors.

4.  Will there be Facebook Premium in the future?
How much would you pay for your Facebook account?
It might be that the goal of buying Instagram and WhatsApp is eventually to have capabilities to introduce Facebook Premium. This social network would add the best of the Facebook ecosystem and provide value on certain subscription fee. I have been toying around with that idea for a while, but currently it seems more reality than ever before. I have been quite disappointed of the unimaginative monetization strategies Facebook has had (overtly media-focused) and venturing to subscription models without endangering the crown jewel of free Facebook seems lucrative and interesting option.

The reaction from the markets to the acquisition was slightly disappointed and Facebook stock plunged slightly.

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Mastering the MIM: Marketer´s Guide to Mobile Instant Messaging

SMS is dead.
Long live MIM.


WhatsApp has been a major contributor of 25% decline of SMS in Spain
. Chinese WeChat has over 300 million users. Over 90% of Korean smartphone users use Kakaotalk. These are just a few examples of the rising trend of the mobile instant messaging (MIM).

Instant messaging as such is not a new thing (remember ICQ?), but there are certain reasons why it has had its resurrection now:

1. Phones are increasingly more about data than talking
In developed countries nearly every new phone sold is smartphone. Smartphones are increasingly more about being smart than phone. There is app for that, now also for the basic phone features (talking and texting).

2. That data is getting faster

New 4G LTE (Long term evolution) phones will enable high-speed data for mobile phones. This opens new opportunities for what kind of content we can exchange in MIM platforms.

3. Facebook is so huge that it is already mass broadcasting

If you are average Facebook user sending your status update, the odds are that the message will be seen by your family, friends and colleagues plus countless of people you do not even know about. This is great, but serves more of people´s need for vanity and instant recognition. The most meaningful conversations happen with the people you know. Same phenomenon has been also reason for the success of Path.

4. There is always need for 1-to-1 communication

Some might argue that Facebook message does the trick. However the challenge is that Facebook is already flooded with so many messages, it is not that reliable way to catch people (at least not all of them). Phone has been relevant for so long because you can be quite certain that your message is received. Although Facebook has increased the number of “friends”, it has not really increase the number of “real friends”. The amount of those real friends is limited and many of interactions with those people we want to keep private.

5. World is getting smaller

Majority of MIM applications work internationally. The bread and butter of Telcos profit margins has been charging for international calls and roaming. MIM applications do not have those international boundaries. You want to communicate with your friends no matter where they geographically are.

6. World is getting more visual

Although SMS-messages have been relatively cheap, telcos are still taking quite big premium with multimedia messages. With MIM applications you can send whatever data possible and the because of the point 2 the alternatives are actually increasing all the time. Basic SMS- type of messaging is just the beginning for MIM applications and there will be probably lots of innovations in what kind of communication there will be.

What are opportunities for marketers?

Many MIM applications are still quite in infancy regarding their business model. Opportunities for marketers also vary greatly between different platforms. For example paid application WhatsApp is totally ad-free and there has not really been marketers using it (expect for personal use). On the other end of the spectrum is the WeChat, which is currently almost like Wild West with Chinese brands flooding there.

MIM applications are interesting part of mobile strategy for marketers. They provide straight access to consumer´s main screen: smartphone. As the smartphone is always within you, that is the straight pathway to consumer connecting digital to retail. That is the connection which every marketer wants to master. It might be that clever way to utilize MIM is the key for cracking that task.

But why anyone would want to have 1-to-1 connection with brand?

Compared to Facebook where your brand page reaches only fraction of your fans, MIM application has almost the hit-rate of 100%. This is creates a big responsibility for brands. You cannot flood your fans with messages such as “Like if you are ready for the spring!” or “Tell us in one word: (Our Brand) make me ______”. You are truly invading personal space with your message so it needs to add some real value for the consumer. In Facebook you are more likely to get away with stupid brand messages, although they are definitely not recommended in there either.

Here potential routes for marketers to utilize MIM:

1. Daily Deals & Promotions
Deals and promotions are always appreciated by the consumers. With MIM you can connect it phones and also create the sense of urgency to redeem those deals. Of course, provided that these deals are good.
2. Daily tips
MIM provides opportunities also for content marketing. It could be daily practice tips for sport brand. It could be song of the day for music service. Of recent campaigns Oreo Daily Twist could work in Whatsapp. The most important thing whether deals or content, is the expectation management. You have to be really candid about what kind of messages you send and how often. You have one change to lose trust and none chances to get it back.
3. Extension of loyalty card
Having own MIM circle for the valued customers could be great idea for rewarding your best customers with VIP treatment.
4. Rapid Market research
Combined with promotions or deals, MIM also provides vehicle for doing rapid market research and gather intelligence for your loyal customers.

It is too early to tell whether MIM will be the secret weapon that connects digital and retail. One thing is certain though: MIM cannot be left out of consideration for your mobile strategy.

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