Today, Twitter announced the integration of native GIF search support. This feature is designed to enhance a conversational user experience and is yet another signal of an impending shift that validates the importance of supporting visual language usage behavior (emoji, stickers, GIF’s).
Over the past few months I have talked a lot about the seismic shift in consumer behavior towards intimate sharing as well as platform and publishers integrating new features and testing conversational user experiences to keep pace with the shift from social media to social messaging.
This shift will redefine how brand marketers approach connecting with consumers. It will be less about the hallmarks of social media marketing which included personification of the brand in a witty way and more about enabling conversation and finding the key points to passively enable a conversation through visual language or by creating compelling customer experiences through messaging channels.
Publishers such as Facebook and Twitter as well as ephemeral platforms such as Snapchat are redefining the future of social media. In recent briefings with the Snapchat team, they stated emphatically that they are not a social network. And some brand marketers may not be comfortable with the pending new normal.
I recently discussed with iMedia how Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp’s go-to-market approach is key to their long term strategy to remain relevant with younger audiences and serves as a precursor to the shift that is coming.
Facebook is a microcosm for what’s happening in the industry. They have over one billion users engaging monthly, yet they are laser focused on evolving beyond social media and are doubling down on social messaging.
Facebook sees that consumer behavior is shifting towards intimate connection vs. broad-reaching social platforms. As a result, messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and SnapChat are dominating engagement with key demographics.
In addition to stickers, animated GIFs, and emojis, messenger applications will also focus on enabling customer service to serve as a primary commerce hub for publishers. Facebook has already tested programs connecting local service providers with consumers through Messenger, as well as enabling third-party developers to create new experiences that enable the messaging experience.
It’s not just about Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook owned Instagram now has improved DM capabilities that focuses on intimate shareability of content. Instagram made it easier to share content without tagging as well as the ability to share with up to 15 people, respond with emoji or add additional images with a threaded approach. This is another signal of the importance of a conversational user experience.
Now Twitter is continuing it’s product evolution by adopting new functionality that is already prevalent with ephemeral messaging platforms. They announced support of native GIF search functionality across iOS, Android & web.
This is in addition to their recent testing of Snapchat stylized doodles and photo editing and expanding the character limit via direct messaging.
It is important to consider the macro shifts in consumer behavior combined with the signals given by the platforms in response to where they are placing their bets for the near future. If the Asian markets are any indication of future behavior in the US, we will see the rise of micro-messaging branded initiatives similar to WeChat.
Here is an example of Starbucks leveraging WeChat in China to conversationally connect with consumers. By sharing their emotion they can engage with branded content and offers.
From a marketing perspective, it is important to begin thinking about how to create or leverage a conversational user experience as well as begin to understand the shift in approach to supporting messaging apps with an “enabling” approach vs. social personification or brand centric messaging.
Consider the role that sponsored brand chats, stickers, emojis or a 3rd party app in the Messenger app ecosystem can provide towards building connections with consumers.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360