Instant messaging (IM) has become one of the main methods of communication, first starting out on social media platforms such as Facebook and Google Hangouts and developed further into mobile apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber.
It is now ingrained as part of a daily routine with over 800 million active users on WhatsApp and around 600 million on Facebook Messenger.
More and more social media applications are incorporating IM into their services, as it is now the main use for smartphones worldwide. Instagram and Snapchat recently launched IM features within their applications so that users can communicate privately with their followers using written text and ‘Emojis’ making every interaction more personal.
IM has now taken a new direction and is being applied to businesses, especially in the e-commerce and customer service fields.
Allowing customers to directly contact companies about any queries they might have and help the development of robust relationships between a brand and its consumers. We can already see this taking shape with live chat customer service providing quick, efficient responses, making customers more likely to return and use the service.
“THE USE OF IM IS VERY BENEFICIAL FOR SIMPLIFYING ONLINE TRANSACTIONS.”
The use of IM is also very beneficial for simplifying online transactions. BusyOrders and Tap Order are two examples of online services aimed at cutting down the complexity of the e-commerce industry by letting customers place their orders directly via WhatsApp.
PayPal has recently launched PayPal.me, a personalised link system where users can generate custom URLs with details of the exact payment they are waiting to receive that can be easily sent via IM apps, without having to disclose any personal information. Ultimately cutting down on time spent fulfilling online transactions through websites and telephone communications. (Read more about PayPal.me here.)
Facebook launched a new prospect last month with Business Messenger, where private messages can be sent to companies through their call-to-action buttons on local awareness ads or through their company profile page.
Bravado, Universal Music’s merchandising company currently uses the Facebook Business Messenger feature to connect with fans and allow them to place orders for products directly through the social media site, aiming to respond to any message within a few hours. (Read more about Facebook’s Business Messenger here.)
When applied to the music industry, IM could help companies and artists thrive by building personal connections with loyal fans. Online music stores could cater to music fans with real-time responses on purchases of products such as CDs, LPs, gig tickets and even merchandise, making the interaction between businesses and the individual consumer more personal.
One of the main uses of social media, particularly, is to constantly keep us up to date with the latest news and trends.
This is where notifications could play a large part when integrated within IM services, as it is vital to keep customers in the know about new products or events.
“IN A DAY AND AGE WHERE ONLINE INTERACTIONS AND MUSIC STREAMING ARE INSTANTANEOUS, IM COULD REVOLUTIONISE THE WAY ARTISTS AND FANS INTERACT.”
At a concert, for example, alerts could be sent to fans by using their location services when they enter a venue or record store. They can provide updates about the artists on any forthcoming products or simply more news on the performance and tour dates, in real-time, directly to the users’ device. This would help the leveraging on the fans engagement with the event and potentially transform it into an actual purchase.
Music streaming and IM partnerships is another interesting factor to take into consideration that can be widely used within applications, where users can instantly send snippets of music to friends and family, with the receiver being able to immediately open and play the message, much like animated ‘stickers’ already being used in Facbeook messaging.
Paul McCartney collaborated with Japanese IM service Line, selling pre-recorded Sound Stickers to fans, which they could then use to share to friends within the same app. This symbolises a great opportunity for artists to connect to their fans on a more personal level as well as another source of revenue for artists and labels by using IM as the main tool to building lasting, loyal relationships.
In a day and age where online interactions, trend-changes and music streaming are instantaneous, it is evident that IM is rapidly expanding and soon to become the next big step to revolutionising the way people interact with each other, whether it be between artists and fans or companies and clients.
IM is sure to mark a change in the way businesses develop their future marketing strategies to construct long-lasting relationships with their customers.