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In the last couple of weeks, the conversations I’m having with clients and other social media bods has been dominated by social messaging apps.

Partly fuelled by some of the Facebook F8 announcements, this topic seems to be firmly on the radar of most people – even if they’re not 100% sure what or how to embrace it.

I thought it might be useful to start a list of these apps, with their pro’s, con’s and considerations for brands.

At this stage please note this is still a work-in-progress! Please feel free to add others into the comments below.

Facebook Messenger

  • What: With most people signed up to Facebook, it means they’ll automatically be using Facebook Messenger if they choose to send messages to each other. So that’s a lot of people who are using the tool.
  • Notably the Messenger element has been carved off as its own separate app, so users can go straight into these conversations directly on their mobile device. Viewing this part of Facebook as a separate tool is also useful for consumers in terms of managing the volume of notifications they’re bombarded with.
  • Opportunity for brands: Facebook recently announced some interesting developments for brands:
    • First off brands will be able to centralise all of the communication they have with a customer about, for example, the progress of an order (rather than SMS, emails). And from a practical perspective these can be managed through a chat tool (like Zendesk) to give it some structure and organisation.
    • It will soon enable users to send money to each other, opening up the way in due course for commerce through the platform.


  • What: One of the most widely used, super simple messaging apps (owned by Facebook).
  • Opportunity for brands: The design isn’t really build for brands, so it’s a slightly clunky experience for a business to get a user setup to be in a WhatsApp group. Saying that it can be a rich(ard III) experience if done well (The BBC used it to share updates on the Richard III reburial story.

Path Talk

  • What: this lesser known social network has extended it’s service by spinning off a new messaging app.
  • Opportunity for brands: Targeted squarely at helping customers get realtime chat help, the interface allows customers to ask a question about a specific business, and the Path team will respond in around 5 minutes. What they actually do is call up the business in question, get the answer and message you back. Not much work for the business to to, but tricky to see how this one will scale for Path.


  • What: The largest standalone messaging app.
  • Opportunity for brands: Brands are still figuring out how best to use the tool, but behind the scenes commentary, as an example by Burberry, is looking to build on the huge opportunity of the large user base.


  • What: Snapchat has seen huge growth in the last 12 months, with many touting is as becoming the channel of choice for the teen audience.
  • Opportunity for brands: From a brand perspective, it’s a slightly tricky proposition, given the disappearing nature of content that’s published. In the most part, I think brands are still trying to get their heads around how best to use the platform.
  • It’s often hard enough for senior management to understand the nuances of “established” social networks like Facebook, so SnapChat takes that lack of ability to empathise to a whole different level.
  • SnapChat also has a Discover tab, which houses little sections of content from brands like the Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan. This certainly isn’t very chatty – it’s simple embedding branded content in a popular space.


  • What: Again, this is a little left-field, but interesting all the same. This technology enables smartphones to communicate with each other via Bluetooth or WiFi to chat using wireless mesh networking (fancy).
  • Opportunity for brands: nothing really stands out.

Twitter Group Direct Messages

  • What: being able to use direct messages on Twitter, but with groups of people instead of just one-to-one. It’s interesting to see how Twitter are responding in this space.
  • Opportunity for brands: people are used to following brands, and communicating with them there. Direct messages are usually used for customer service queries, so receiving a marketing based message from a brand might feel a bit odd if done in the wrong way. Saying that, what a great way to be able to have an intimate interaction with a small group of customers about a specific topic, perhaps a nice reward for their brand loyalty.

So, a simple question – which one is your favourite, and why?


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