As users opt for a more fragmented and decentralized experience with social networks — choosing, for example to use a separate app for messaging friends, sharing photos, and monitoring the news instead of turning to giants like Facebook for everything — chat apps are growing increasingly important not only for consumers, but for the brands who want to connect with those consumers. Many tech experts and industry watchers are positing that 2015 will be the year when messaging apps become just as important for brands looking to connect with consumers as social networks.
Messaging apps not only cater to a generation that prefers a decentralized social networking experience, but also gives users the ability to communicate with friends with much more privacy than social networks like Facebook afford them. Many messaging apps have gathered hundreds of millions of users, charting explosive growth as they make it more straightforward for users to stay in touch with the people — and brands — who they actually care to hear from. In 2015, these messaging apps are expected to start pulling advertising dollars from the traditional leaders in social media.
As SF Gate reported in September, when Paul McCartney’s tour went to Japan, his team offered users on chat app Line a free pack of digital stickers. Line said that McCartney’s willingness to personally respond to his fans on Line paid off; compared with McCartney’s fans on other social networks, his Line followers were three times more likely to engage with his posts.
Jeanie Han, a former Paramount Pictures executive who’s now chief executive of Line’s Euro-Americas unit, notes that Line only works with stars who can offer “high-quality” content. The app has a long waiting list of movie studios and other content owners, who all want a Line account to capitalize on users’ engagement with the platform. On TechCrunch, Jon Russell writes that Line provides some evidence to support the theory that messaging apps will become the new social media in 2015. Line, the messaging app from Japan that has more than 500 million registered users and 170 million monthly active users, is building a business connecting companies with users.