The Future of Social Is “Sticky”

Here are a few fun facts: You are reading this blog to learn just a little bit more about how to bring more value to your customers and to your business. By my estimate, you are an above-average digital consumer, with a solid presence online and know all about social, search, Web, app, and the cloud.

But, compared with most of the new mobile users worldwide, you’re old. You’re set in your ways. You don’t like change. And change happens fast.

Let me tell you why. I’m sure you have heard about Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp. I’m sure the deal either shocked or surprised you. Since when did messaging become so desirable?

You may even be aware of the 390 million active users on WeChat and the explosion of the Tencent mobile communication platform in China.

But you probably didn’t know that WeChat was used to sell 150,000 Xiaomi smartphones in 10 minutes.

And you may not have heard of Korea’s Naver mobile messaging service called Line, which grossed $99 million in its last quarter of business, up from $58 million it recorded just one quarter previously. Additionally, Line banks more than $10 million in revenue from sticker sales per month. As a side note, that is more than half of the $168.6 million Twitter brought in during the same time frame.

But just to rub more salt into the wound, you may not have heard of another Korean mobile messaging service called Kakao Talk, which is said to be installed on more than 90 percent of Korea’s smartphones today. It is already profitable with 140 million registered users, with annual revenue reaching $203 million with a $59 million profit. Kakao is merging with the Naver’s major competitor in Korea, the portal Daum, and according to the merger Kakao, is valued at $3 billion and has 400 million registered users.

What do all these mobile business have in common? Stickers. Cute, sharable emoticon-style stickers. This has grabbed the attention of Facebook, which has said, “Stickers are different than emoticons. They’re detailed illustrations of characters with personality. Sending stickers is a way to share how you’re feeling with your friends.”

A more theatrical description comes from Pepperdine University’s Business School, which explains how Line has perpetuated society:

“As part of the marketing strategy, Line characters are everywhere in Japan now. Stuffed toys, books, stationery, capsule toy, anime on TV, in stores, on billboards – you can’t miss them. Even celebrities are getting in on the action. For $1.99, you can purchase the famous Korean rapper PSY’s Line stickers depicting his popular hit, ‘Gangnam Style’ and the well-known horse-riding dance moves that have won fans all over the world.”

The common thread here is what I like to call “customer service.” You’ve heard of this one. You’ve been around long enough. It’s those “real people,” with “real names,” who have actual personalities, and professionalism as well as emotion, apathy, and empathy.

Today, we as marketers are not paid to deliver that level of service. In the modern marketing world we have focused on the mass audience, the communities that grow to millions, the subscription base that totals tens of millions. But never the individual.

When I talk to my mentors in business who built careers on hand-shake deals, the “real salesmen and women” of the old days, I hear that the world has changed away from this level of customer service. Dramatically. But maybe it’s on the way back?

The trend of “hyperpersonal marketing” is being enabled by these new services, and there is a lot of opportunity for you and your customer or brands to connect directly with customers using these new channels.

This trend is coming faster than you know. Again. So brace yourself.

Image via Shutterstock.

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