Fully 97% of Americans use a texting app on their smartphones at least once a day (Pew Internet). Messaging is quickly becoming the communication channel of choice for consumers, so brands and marketers could use a refresher course in the art of conversation.
One person helping companies to make the leap to messaging is Peter Friedman, former vice-president of Apple Internet Services, and group manager of product marketing at Atari. Peter went on to found social content marketing company LiveWorld in 1996.
I invited Peter to Marketing Smarts to discuss social media and customer experience (CX) for brands, and to share lessons from his time with Apple and Atari.
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Peter:
Messaging will revolutionize marketing and customer experience (07:33): "By [messaging], I mean messaging applications like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, which are pure-play dialogue messaging applications that are expanding into a full-blown ecosystem. We have traditional broadcast messaging in advertising and PR and digital. And then we have social media, which is really a dialogue medium, but many, many brands keep using it as a broadcast medium, which is not the right way to do it....
"And now we're moving into...the age of messaging, where these applications that are designed at their core for people talking to each other are becoming the biggest digital ecosystems in the world. Already, the top four messaging applications are bigger than the top four social networks. Even Mark Zuckerberg says that messaging will be bigger than social networking.... As this happens, brands are going to have to learn to do customer service and marketing and insight through conversational media form rather than just throwing things at people and talking at them instead of with them."
Don't be so focused on adopting new technology that you sacrifice audience interaction (14:20): "The key to this is (and this is another Steve Jobs quote), 'Start with the customer experience and work your way back to the technology.' This is why software engineers at Apple are called 'software designers' and not 'engineers'—because they're designing an experience. He was always great about that.... We're really excited about this age of messaging and dialogue because we've been doing this conversational stuff for 20 years. The market's finally come to our expertise!
"But as an example, in the last several years social media really grew and brands wanted to get content up...and so these publishing tools came into business and they're good tools. They'd say...'here's how you can create a post and really smoothly at scale put it across multiple channels—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.' That was meant to help you scale [content marketing].
"The problem is you don't want to put the exact same post in each channel because now you're not paying attention to the nuances of those channels. What your customers are thinking, since they're likely in more than one channel when they get the same post on Facebook and Twitter (in addition to noticing you're not optimizing for the channel), they think you're spamming them.... The industry pushed towards that, and everybody got into that mindset and they ended up distancing themselves from the customer and the customer experience instead of getting closer. How [technology] is designed and how you use it makes a big difference."
Peter and I talked about much more, including his experience working closely with Steve Jobs at Apple, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.