According to Mark Zuckerberg, instant messaging is “going to be the next big platform for helping you connect with all kinds of services in new ways.” Knowing where instant messaging is headed that Facebook acquired IM giant WhatsApp a couple of years ago at $19 billion, we think we ought to trust Mark’s words.
Now the question is – Where is instant messaging really heading, and more importantly, should marketers care?
We assume that you are familiar with IM. But in case you have been living under a rock for the last few years, it is the term we use for any service that functions primarily as a means of real-time communication. Although text conversation is the major factor, instant messengers also offer some additional functions that may vary depending on the provider.
What has that to do with marketers?
IM provides everyone with opportunities for brands and businesses to jump in and get involved, but how is this going to play out? Well, for starters we need to be clear about something – IM is an excellent outlet for marketing, but not for advertising. It is for marketing because brands can utilize it to change the way they interact with consumers and how they look at retail and customer service.
Through IM businesses who are using it are able to respond to the inquiries and other concerns of their customers. It offers an almost perfect way to personally and directly communicate with brands, and that is something every curious customer wants.
Facebook has introduced chatbots in its own IM platform, offering businesses the ability to make customized responses that are of course created the way they want to, so the messages would sound more real with natural language input. As these chatbots grow more complex, users will be able to order goods through IM, as well as receive personalized updates that are based on their own interests.
It may be that the future of customer services and marketing is a unique fusion of IM and technology as the former is quickly becoming everyone’s primary means of communication and interaction with major companies. Those who see its value are already using it both to provide their service, gain new clientele, and build strong loyalty.
It is probably safe to say that IM is just beginning to emerge as a big player in the marketing world, but as it is, we can already see that with this kind of beginning, the future seems interesting.
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