The start of the New Year is as good a time as any to speculate about what’s going to be big in the world of social media in 2015. And several top pundits (including Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans and venture capitalist Fred Wilson) believe that they know the answer: messaging apps, which they think are set become ‘the new social media’ this year.
Take Line as an example: the Japanese chat app has accrued more than 500 million registered users and now claims bragging rights of over 170 million monthly actives. As TechCrunch journalist Jon Russell picked up, it’s catching on as a significant marketing tool: Sir Paul McCartney’s team, no less, used social media to promote his surprise collaboration with Kanye West on New Year’s Eve and while Facebook garnered 14,334 Likes and Instagram 15,600 (minus a link to the music on Soundcloud), Line emerged with the top billing.
Sir Paul has over 10 million Line followers, largely as a result of astute marketing. That means that although he got just 1,074 likes (dwarfed by Facebook’s and Instagram’s totals), more than 10 million fans received push notifications.
Because Facebook controls traffic to iTunes, Soundcloud and to its own video player, it undoubtedly got more attention than Line. But there’s a drawback: its algorithms dictate how many of Sir Paul’s fans will have seen news feed updates. And you can be sure that this particular update didn’t make it to the timelines of all 6.2 million of his Facebook fans. On Line, users get to see ALL updates from everyone they’ve elected to follow, whether ordinary friends or corporate accounts like McCartney’s.
There’s no algorithm directing the show, just user power. Brands can’t pay to plant messages (like they can on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), but they can – and McCartney’s team did – send private chat messages to every single one of their Line followers. We haven’t got a metric to get a handle on the engagement ensuing from that 10 million-plus deluge of private chats, but the fact that they all contained links to Soundcloud suggests that the effect was pretty huge.
Marketing content is poised to migrate to messaging apps big time in 2015 (a clue: Facebook is already working on revamping its own messaging service to a system like Line’s).