Twitter and the Growing Popularity of Messaging Apps

Twitter announced two new capabilities this week for its desktop and mobile application platforms: video uploads and group messaging.

While the former is a helpful way for users to spend more time on its platform, the latter points to a trend in the US that advertisers should keep a close watch on in case they haven’t already: private group messaging apps.

While social media centers around publishing content publicly into the social web, research provided below shows that users are steadily growing their usage of private messaging apps, which offer social tools including video, image, emoji, and link sharing to enjoy a “much more intimate experience.”

A Closer Look at Private Messaging Apps

What makes the group messaging apps so attractive is simple: they allow users to send text, links, video and photos to friends at cheaper rates than traditional text messaging services and allows them to connect in a private manner with multiple friends at once.

The growth in messaging apps, is likely a response to the more public nature of popular apps like Twitter and Facebook, where status updates and posts are visible to the many rather than the few. – NY Times

Messaging apps WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, are quite robust and offer tools that extend their value beyond sending content.

The US is showing signs of catching up to this robust private messaging trend. For example, Snapchat users can send money to one another within the app.  A “Discover” section in Snapchat’s new update lets users receive news and fresh content from brands including Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, VICE, and the Food Network.

WhatsApp Puts the Spotlight on Private Messaging

WhatsApp may be relatively unknown in the U.S. when compared with its usage in Asia, but this private chat application has 700 million monthly active users, and noticing the rise in private messaging apps, Facebook acquired WhatsApp in February for $21.8 billion.

Fred Wilson, a Venture Capitalist known for investing early in Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and other social platforms, expressed his views on private messaging apps in a recent blog post: “Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in February of this year was the transaction that defined this trend.”

In addition, Mr. Wilson comments that in 2015, “More Asian penetration into the US market will come from the messenger sector as both Line and WeChat make strong moves to gain a share of the lucrative US messenger market.”

Private Messaging’s ImpactFacebook Messenger

Private messaging apps may take some share away from traditional social media platforms. For example, below you’ll note how Facebook Messenger places a minor but noticeable dent in Facebook’s platform usage.

According to comScore’s mobile app usage report (Nov 2014), Facebook’s app was the top app (by percent of overall reach) in November, at 69%.

Facebook’s Messenger app came in fifth place, with a reach of 43.1 percent. According to comScore, just a year ago, “those numbers stood at 76.2 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively.’

comScore mobile apps

Source: comScore

An interesting Tweet showcasing the importance Mark Zuckerberg places on messaging apps come from CNBC’s Eli Langer:


Brands Are Testing the Waters

In the US, the private messaging apps may not be big enough to justify your attention. BBC and WSJ recently tried messaging app Line to cover the Charlie Hebdo story and did not see a significant spike in traffic.


Image Source: Digiday 

Advertisers should take note of the potential presented by private messaging apps in the US. Their popularity here is clearly growing: Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat being two key examples highlighted in this note. The social web continues to change and private messaging apps are presenting a new and exciting way to communicate with your audience.

Your Experience

Do you see yourself sharing more content within a private group messaging app? I would love to know the impact private messaging apps may be having on your content sharing experience.

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