As Mark Zuckerberg was building Facebook into the world’s biggest social media site, there must have been one niggling concern throughout the entire process - just how can you extract value from your users without overloading the site with ads or allowing companies to invade a user’s privacy? Facebook’s Messenger app is set to become a multifunctional powerhouse, with brands queuing up to offer their functionality.
Social media and eCommerce are becoming increasingly conflated, and as both areas continue to grow in both number and diversity, eCommerce merchants are finding ways to marry the two across the different mediums. The hope is that, in the very near future, consumers will not have to leave their chosen social media sites at all in order to make purchases. Facebook is following in the footsteps of the likes of WeChat, the Chinese messenger - and, now, eCommerce - app, in terms of how to extract value from its users. The Chinese giant has essentially set the script for Facebook’s development and the Silicon Valley behemoth plans to roll out its direct-purchase capability alongside peer-to-peer cash transfers and ticket buying.
But, with markets on the world’s leading social media likely to become quickly saturated, it may be worth a brand’s time to look elsewhere for less widely used, but also less competitive, app spaces on which to market its product. And, with new apps popping up all the time, we took a look at seven that eCommerce merchants should be aware of to stay ahead of the curve.
Currently #9 in social networking on Apple’s App Store, Peach - developed by Dom Hoffman, co-founder of Vine - is an instant-messaging app with a twist; it’s ‘magic words’ allow users to post songs, gifs, drawings and pictures, to their conversations.
The likes of Mic News, Teen Vogue and Popular Science are already using the app, and it seems only a matter of time before the messenger is opened up to branding, be it in the form of sponsored ‘magic words’ or otherwise. Its support for a wide range of content make it an attractive proposition for any digitally proficient marketing team. The app is currently struggling to match its own hype, though, and unless significant investment can be garnered quickly, this one may be dead before any real value is to be extracted.
Co-founded by Golden State Warriors basketball player Steph Curry, Slyce is an app for live Q&As with both celebrities and influencers. Having been active for only a little over a month, the app is primarily being used as a tool for following popular athletes, with basketball currently the most covered.
However its secondary focus, that of allowing influencers to connect with their followers more directly, could not only broaden its reach but open up opportunities for marketers to exploit its intimacy. Influencer marketing is on the rise, and companies are finding value in sponsoring individuals as brand ambassadors rather than more traditional advertising. Currently, only around 10 athletes are using the app but, as it grows, the marketing opportunities it creates will too.
Dubbed by the developers as ‘radio by the people’, Anchor allows its users to record and broadcast audio clips to a global audience. Users are encouraged to start threads, conversations that can later be stitched together to create podcasts. It fits with the current trend of live, user-generated content and the potential marketing opportunities - direct feedback, crowdsourcing ideas, market research, etc. - are numerous.
Hyper is a content sharing platform that allows users to make posts directly to the areas that interest them. Everyone in that area is then notified of the post and the user can get instant feedback and votes on everything they share. Essentially, the app is a marketers dream. There are no profiles attached to a user’s username, but if brands can create consistently engaging content for the ‘area’ in which they operate, the exposure and feedback could be leveraged to create significant value.
Currently in beta stage, Blab is an app that allows users to join live video chats and watch videos, listen to music and play games together. Up to four people can talk live on-air at once, but any number can tune in to spectate, and the chats can be replayed later.
The app is a potentially very effective marketing tool, in that building relationships with customers and employees is much easier when they can see the people behind the product launch, or the customer service email. Right now, the average time spent on Blabs is, according to its CEO, a huge 64 minutes; product launches, Q&As or live reports from conferences with that kind of engagement would be extremely beneficial. If your business isn’t using Blab already, perhaps it should be.