Sunday, 22 october 2017 | Redacción CEU
Have you realized that we almost do not talk to our friends on the phone? Why wasting time and effort calling, when we can quickly contact them with a simple text through our smartphone? Instant messaging is the queen of the daily communications. If our grandparents and parents learn how to send us Whatsapp messages, why would not brands do it? A new digital language is built up, it is the social messaging. The new challenge of marketing focuses on creating a solid channel between companies and users. New consumers do not want advertisements, they want to chat!
How tedious it is sometimes to get in touch with a company customer service! Does the music that sounds when you are on hold also exasperates you when you are waiting to talk to an operator? Have you pressed four different keys to get there but you still do not get a response? What you really want is to talk to someone who speaks your language and not an irritating answering machine. Can you imagine how your experience would change if you just had to send an instant message to be in contact with a firm? You would save a lot of time and effort! That is the challenge that marketers are now considering, the social messaging development.
SMS' were expensive, limited, unidirectional and they did not have acknowledgment of receipt. Social messaging made a grand entrance in the digital world as an opposition to the traditional system of short messages. Its appearance a few years ago offered a solution that compensated all these problems. Now, these platforms users can communicate easily, quickly and cheaply, and, besides, in an immediate and successful way. Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat, among others, have been consolidated as the great alternatives to traditional SMS services. They even gain market share to other social networks.
Social messaging now occupies a good part of our digital activity, in particular, the one we do through our phone. For a few years now, when we do not have our cellphones at our fingertips, that makes us feel uncomfortable. The fear of spending time without it has even given name to a new disease, nomophobia –"no-mobile-phone phobia"–. We no longer call our contacts, we rather texting them! The relationship between users and devices is so close that sometimes we do not take the look away from our smartphone screen while having dinner or walking. In addition to causing accidents, this "telephonic idyll" opens up a whole sea of possibilities in the digital marketing world.
Brands have always tried to translate the language of the masses, to integrate it and to be part of it. If companies do not speak our language, nor use our channels, how will they conquer us? The digital transformation has altered our way of communicating; the landline phone is a decorative element of the house, public services are the only ones that write letters, bosses prefer sending "telegrams" than sending emails... we do not even use the computer as much as before! The cell phone has become the best ally in the marketing game and mobile messaging an ace up its sleeve.
Young people are the great standard bearers of this new digital revolution. Millennials are demanding, impulsive, they like new trends, they have less resistance to boredom, they claim immediacy and they want to feel part of a community. Meeting the needs of this generation is not a simple task. In addition, their life model where cell phones have a prominent role is penetrating the rest of the population; from two-year-old kids who watch Pocoyo on their parents' smartphones, to the grandmothers who ask their grandchildren what they have eaten today through Whatsapp.
Millennials want to have a one-on-one communication, shorten distances, have an active participation, be able to manage their own issues through their cell phones and be assisted in a brief and personalized way. The roles have turned upside down. They are the ones who now command, not the brands. The marketers have realized that, in order to reach them, they have to change their strategy. If mobiles are their preferred mean, the social messaging platforms –services that they use the most– become the perfect channels to connect with them.
According to a study carried out by The Creative Group with 400 US marketing and advertising executives, social messaging will be the trend with the greatest impact for the next 2018 –at least, 33% of interviewees believe so–. Perhaps this is due to the new technology advances, but also, to a large extent, to the change that is taking place in society. Digital activity is becoming more private, less public. This is a significant turn for the world of social networks. Social messaging becomes the new main star of Social Media Marketing.
Neither calling, nor sending SMS... Consumers demand a channel where the participation is immediate and personalized. Without the help of technology, establishing this type of communication with clients can be a titanic task. The push of chatbots is the answer that big companies have found to reduce their costs drastically. According to a study of the US consultancy Gartner, 85% of the interactions between brands and users will be made through these computer programs with which it is possible to have a conversation.
These artificial intelligence softwares have been designed to enhance and learn from experience. Of course, they are still at an early stage and are far away from achieving a perfect communication, but you might have already interacted with them and you have not even noticed –for example, Facebook Messenger and Telegram already work with these robots–.
Although chatbots are the main protagonist of this new strategy, a perspective of social messaging focused only on these systems is a vision very limited. The future of marketing bets on a conversational commerce where users can interact with people and companies as well as robots. Because what the consumer really wants now is to talk. Marketers are inclined to change, so... less ads and more chatting!