How Chat Has Become the Universal Experience

Have you ever been surprised to hear your mobile phone ring? It seems like every time our phones ring now, we expect there to either be an emergency or some sort of spam. For the most part, people just don’t like phone calls anymore—but this isn’t exactly a new trend.

We’re approaching the 10-year anniversary of a major phone call trend. Q4 2007 marked the first time that Americans sent more text messages than made phone calls. And it’s no coincidence that the original iPhone—our first modern smartphone—was released just 6 months earlier.

As mobile phone usage continues to bury traditional landlines, messaging will prove to be the universal communication experience. But if we look back a few years, the idea of a messaging revolution starts to seem more familiar.

The Ebb and Flow of Messaging and Social Media

Messaging was eating into traditional communication before we ever thought about mobile or social media.

There were many iterations of popular group chat services, but none enjoyed the popularity of AOL Instant Messenger after its 1997 release. Yahoo! and MSN Messenger also fought for attention, but one thing was clear—people enjoyed the ease and convenience of online messaging.

Until these messaging apps hit a wall in 2007.

As phone calls gave way to text messaging, desktop instant messaging apps started giving way to the social media networks that thrived on mobile. The features that people loved about AIM were replaced by social media — Facebook let you make detailed, personal profiles, Twitter let you make real-time status updates, and (at the time) apps like Gchat let you keep in touch with friends.

And yet, messaging has remained persistent and is now enjoying a renaissance.

Mobile has solidified itself as the preferred consumer platform and direct messaging apps have returned to the forefront to replace social media engagement. Powered by booming usage of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, messaging apps have reached nearly 3 billion active users, surpassing social networking apps for the first time in late 2015.

There’s no doubt that we’re in the midst of a messaging revolution—and for companies looking to improve engagement with customers, it’s time to look beyond social media.

Break the Messaging Rules—Don’t Make the Same Old Mistakes

The persistence of messaging may not be surprising from a consumer perspective, but it’s certainly a new frontier for most businesses.

As the messaging revolution comes to form, you’re at a monetization crossroads—you can go with what you know or you can forge a new path.

Now that messaging has proven more engaging than social media, it’s only a matter of time before companies start monetizing their chat experiences. If you play by the rules, you’ll be sucked into a race to the bottom with competitors as you fight with advertising on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Facebook Messenger and other platforms will let you jump into the messaging revolution with chatbots. You might be able to share messages, GIFs, videos and offer simple services through these platforms, but you’ll sacrifice branding, flexibility and API freedom—not to mention the restrictions on customer data if you don’t own the experience.

Digital advertising has become a race to the bottom, but if you get started on the right path with messaging, you can avoid making similar mistakes. Own your messaging experience and start engaging with customers in their preferred channel.

If you want to learn how you can created a branded messaging experience that drives business results, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform—get on board with the messaging revolution.