If you want to connect directly with existing and potential clients, it helps to use a social messaging platform with millions of users. There is no surprise then that more businesses are starting to use social messaging apps to reach out to people interested in their services, particularly younger individuals who spend significant time on their smartphones.

Messaging apps are well beyond being a “huge” phenomenon. WhatsApp, for example, now has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide, with more than 68 million of them in the U.S., a figure expected to exceed 86 million users by 2023. That’s a pretty massive audience.

We already know that social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have become a good way to connect with customers, but now social messaging apps are starting to outpace them in popularity. Millennials are using a wide variety of apps and online platforms to connect and communicate. Whether it’s sharing photos and videos, playing online games, or live streaming, many young people spend more time on social messaging apps than on social media sites. That represents a smart opportunity for marketers.

What Advantages Can Social Messaging Apps Offer?

The smartphone is the ruler of mobile devices. According to a Salesforce marketing study on mobile behavior:

  • 85% called mobile devices a central part of their everyday life
  • 90% of the respondents between 18-24 agreed
  • Respondents spent 3.3 hours a day on their smartphones
  • 89% say mobile devices let them stay up to date with friends, family and social events

Social messaging apps are part of that. Apps like Facebook Messenger, SnapChat and WhatsApp are appealing devices on smartphones because they’re quick and convenient to use, a method for instant messaging with a coworker, or having fun with multiple friends after work or school. They’re also more popular than texting or emailing someone because they come with additional features and multimedia tools that users love.

It’s a trend that businesses should start paying more attention to, both for connecting with customers and finding new advertising opportunities. We know customers are spending time on these apps. Why not connect with them as they’re doing it?

How Do You Use Social Messaging Apps for Marketing?

Some of the most popular social messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, know their devices appeal to businesses and allow users to receive information about online orders from retailers through Messenger. More brands are coming on board, using Messenger as a quick and easy way to provide instant updates and notices to their customers. Restaurants now let customers make reservations through messaging apps, while retailers encourage customers to use these apps to post photos of items they’re looking for.

You can also use chatbots to engage customers on Messenger. Some businesses that have been sending out weekly emails that customers subscribe to are also sending similar chatbot messages through Messenger.

This market is growing. AdWeek recently reported that Facebook Messenger is about to introduce a new business inbox that lets businesses respond to customer messages, an option created after a Hubspot survey that found that 90% of customers think it’s important to get an immediate response from businesses. Mike Weingert, the product manager for Messenger, posted a blog noting that:

The new business inbox in Messenger will make it easy and convenient for businesses to respond quickly. And businesses can also choose to receive notifications in the Messenger app to remind them to get back to customers in a timely manner.”

You know what’s also really effective about using social messaging apps? The “soft touch” approach that doesn’t feel like an aggressive marketing push. You’re either responding directly to an inquiry the customer made through the messenger app or sending them information they’re likely to find valuable and helpful.

Should a Business Engage with Clients Via Social Messaging Apps?

While social messaging apps are increasingly popular, a lot of companies haven’t tapped into this market yet. In fact, a study by Buffer found that barely 20% of companies are taking advantage of messaging platforms. On the other hand, a recent Facebook-Nielsen report found that more than 50% of users said they’re more likely to interact with a business if they can message it. If current trends prove to be correct, messaging apps could become a more popular way to connect with users than social media sites. If Facebook Messenger alone hosts activity from 1.2 billion users each month, why ignore the opportunity?

Find More Content Marketing Opportunities Today

Sure, social messaging apps are fun for connecting with friends, but are there really strong marketing opportunities here? It’s important to remember that you probably have competitors who are already connecting with customers on social messaging apps — so don’t get them all the gravy.

If you’re looking to take a more comprehensive and sophisticated marketing approach, come talk to us for a risk-free marketing consultation.