6 Ways Brands Are Using Messenger Apps to Reach their Audience [Marketing]

This article was published by Hootsuite Social Media Management and curated by Closer Spot. Be sure to check out other Closer Spot news and advice to help you win more business.

Messenger apps and chatbots exist to answer questions and fulfill requests for users—without them ever having to leave their computer or mobile device.
This is great news for businesses. Early adopters of messenger apps—like 1-800-Flowers—report that 70 percent of their new customers have been generated through online chat tools.
Here are six ways brands are using messenger apps to reach their audience.

1. Sharing relevant content

As a leader in viral content, BuzzFeed uses its WeChat account to push personalized content to its subscribers. If you’re following BuzzFeed on WeChat, you receive one piece of content every day as part of your subscription. Users can also type in keywords like “fail,” “win,” and “cute,” over chat and a bot responds with relevant content based on that keyword.
Key takeaway: Sharing helpful and relevant content is one of the simplest ways to keep your brand top-of-mind. It shows the audience that you’re thinking of them and committed to providing value.

2. Customer support

When customers contact a brand over social media—the quicker a business can respond, the better. An Altitude survey of 3,000 people and found that 42 percent of consumers who use social media to contact businesses expect a response within the hour.
These days messenger apps are designed to deliver instant, one-on-one customer service.
The travel search engine, Kayak, uses Facebook Messenger as a customer support tool. It’s used by people to search flights, find travel deals, update itineraries, and receive trip recommendations. Users can plug in keywords or even ask the chatbot, “Can you suggest a hotel in Manhattan for New Years Eve?” or “Can you find me a romantic getaway for under $600?” Kayak’s chatbot will then comb through thousands of search results, but only serving you the best options.
Key takeaway: In a mobile messaging survey conducted by Ubisend, nearly half of all people say they’d prefer to contact a business through messaging apps rather than email. With tools like Facebook Messenger, brands can serve their customers at all times.

3. Offering more personalized experiences

Following in the steps of retailers like Sephora, H&M introduced their own Kik chatbot that doubles as a personal stylist.
The bot offers outfit inspirations and style recommendations based on a user’s preferences.
Within the app, users are asked questions like “How would you describe your style?” Users can respond with “formal” or “casual,” for example. The bot will then rifle through a catalogue of styles to offer you a complete outfit.
From there, users can choose to switch items around or tap “shop it,” “share it,” and “save it” with each recommendation. When selecting “shop it,” users are give a link to the H&M mobile site for purchase.
Key takeaway: By using a bot that asks questions to gain deeper insight into customers, brands can offer more relevant content. It’s like taking an in-store interaction between consumer and sales associate and putting it online. It’s friendly and real—the kind of interaction that encourages customers to continue to buy from your brand.

4. Enhancing the shopping experience

With their messenger app strategy, Whole Foods has taken an everyday chore and made it fun.
Like H&M’s personal stylist messenger app, the Whole Foods Facebook Messenger bot helps users find recipes for upcoming shopping trips.
It’s more than simply a place to chat with a robot chef, though. Whole Foods patrons can select emojis—like an apple or orange—and see recipes using that combination of ingredients. Users can mix and match emojis with cuisine-related keywords like “Mediterranean.” They can also use keywords to indicate special diets like gluten-free or vegetarian.
Key takeaway: These days consumers expect technology to answer their questions, solve their problems, and entertain them. Whole Foods’ chatbot does all three—making a weekly shopping trip not only productive, but experimental and fun.

5. Building community

Through private messaging apps like Whatspp, Line, and Facebook Messenger, Adidas shares exclusive content, news, and products to “squads” of local influencers. Instead of an automated bot, Adidas in-house team uses the apps to communicate with their community of influencers.
These groups of people are called Tango Squads and are made up of anywhere between 100 and 250 football-obsessed fans. Each of these influencers have a sizable following on social media—but not to the point of celebrity-status. Adidas specifically chooses micro influencers with smaller followings to make sure that what each influencer shares feels thoughtful, instead of a release into the general public that can feel impersonal.
Key takeaway: Talking to your customers one-on-one makes them feel more connected to your brand. Compared to a public channel like a blog or social network, reaching out via messenger feels more personal.

6. Direct sales

Fast food moves even faster with the Burger King Facebook Messenger bot. Users are able to use the platform to order their food ahead of time and/or find a nearby location. The app will also give users an estimate of their meal will be ready.
Other brands in the food industry have jumped on the trend like Taco Bell’s TacoBot on Slack and Domino’s Facebook Messenger bot.
Key takeaway: Your audience is more likely to purchase if half the work is already done for them. By reaching out to your customers on their own terms and eliminating most of the legwork—like where the closest location is and when it’ll be ready—you’re making their lives easier and they’ll reward you for that.