Did you know that the time spend on the news feed on social platforms has decreased, but the time spent on private messaging platforms has increased? If you think about this too quickly, you might be inclined to do a double-take. But it’s true–there’s been a big shift in the way people are communicating online and I believe this shift will have a huge impact on the way we will work with social media in the future.
To make it clear, I think that one of the most interesting digital trends right now is private messaging. People are turning their attention to communicating much more privately, rather than broadcasting their messages across public social media feeds. Platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat have all seen significant growth in users. On the other side these platforms are also evolving into complex platforms that handles money transfers, chat bots, intelligent geolocation features and this is only the beginning of it.
Private messaging platforms are expanding like never before. The largest services now have hundreds of millions of active users each month. These messaging platforms are being used for more than private text-based messages. People are using them to send videos, pictures, GIFs, and transfer money. The trend is definitely swinging towards more intimate conversations through the use of private media. Take a minute to think about how you are using private messaging. How many meetings and coffee arrangements have you arranged lately through a private messaging platform?
This switch in communication is a challenge that brands need to begin thinking about as they plan their digital strategies. Here are some questions to consider:
- How can brands remain relevant when their audiences want to go online and engage in private conversations with family and friends?
- What are they many facets of private messaging, and how can brands use them to their advantage?
- Private messaging has always been invitation-based. How can brands be invited into these conversations?
- What happens when we all start communicating with chat bots?
I believe that brands can prepare for this shift by creatively thinking about how their consumers receive information. For example, brands know that they basically have to “pay to play” for their content to be seen on Facebook. The rise of Facebook ads, as well as vast amounts of data, has revealed that the more brands pay for ad space, the more people will see their content. If public streams of content, like Facebook ads, become irrelevant to large amounts of consumers, how can brands still get their messaging to focused groups of people?
The answer may be found in a simple shift to more private means of communicating and engaging a group around a specific cause or topic. This will require a mindset shift for many companies as they look deeper into what their consumers really care about, and what motivates their consumers, outside of the products and services offered.
One thing is for certain: Technology and digital behavior both evolve very quickly and it is becoming more private. As a digital strategist, I look for trends in behavior before making predictions about the future of which I have no control. The use of private messaging platforms are definitely shaping the digital tools we’ll be using as we look 2 to 3 years into the future. I look forward to following this trend as it develops and learning how to strategize around it now–and in the future.
This post is the first in a series of many posts that will deal with this area of private messaging. If you want to look further into this topic I can also recommend these articles:
Mark Schaefer: Are you ready for the mega-shift from social media to private media?
Business Insider: Messaging apps are now bigger than social networks