Can Brands Get Better Engagement On Messaging Apps Than Facebook?

Messaging apps are the “The New Face of Social Media,” but how do they compare to the old guard when it comes to organic reach and engagement?

Last week Tango, a messaging app with 200M+ users globally and close to 70M in the US, launched brand Channels– and initial results give a glimpse into the looming battle between messaging apps and Facebook / Twitter.  The numbers (assuming they’re accurate) are surprisingly impressive for an opening week, with companies like Spotify racking up 119,000+ followers, bands like OK Go gaining 124,000+ fans, and a curated Feedly “World Cup News” channel netting 233,000+ subscribers.

Brands on Tango often get better engagement on posts than they do on Facebook, even with infinitely smaller fanbases.  Spotify’s Father’s Day post, for example, asked users on Facebook and Tango to fill in the same blank “Tell us: I listen to _________ because of my Dad,” and yielded 7,625 likes and 1,114 comments on Tango vs. 1,749 likes and 2,369 comments on Facebook.  With 4.5M more Spotify fans on Facebook than Tango, the neck-and-neck results may speak to decreased organic reach on Facebook and high engagement on Tango.

Tango Facebook 1

A closer look at fan comments, however, reveals that quality of engaged users on Spotify’s Facebook page is much higher. While Facebook fans thoughtfully answered the question by naming artists,  Tango comments include a fairly high concentration of random emojis,  troll-like statements like “BITCH WHO DO YOU LOVE?,” and other off-topic ramblings.

What Tango does best is organize channels by topic to facilitates discovery.  They even tally total followers by category, making it easy to glean what appeals most to the user base: Music (286,000+ followers), Sports (276,000+ followers), Tango Updates (134,000+ followers), Funny & Cute (118,000+ followers), Entertainment (58,000+ followers), and lastly News (36,000+ followers).

In our messaging app white paper we cautioned against replicating Facebook and Twitter content on messaging apps. But in Tango’s case, they’ve appropriated the classic social media news feed, so understandably brands aren’t getting creative like they might on open platforms like Kik. Tango’s initial focus is also on content creators, with no traditional brands like Coke or Pepsi entering the fray yet. Given the success off the World Cup News channel, brands should consider exhibiting creativity by curating a channel tied to music or sports instead of (or in addition to) a standard brand page.

As the summer progresses, expect more brands join Tango to access its 200M users, which means more competition for eyeballs.  We may also witness the first few brands with 7-figure follower counts, inevitably turning heads in the broader marketing community.  For now, Tango Channels is off to a promising start.

Messaging App Tango Launches Brand Channels

Today Tango, a messaging app with over 200 million users globally, launched a plug-and-play solution for brands called Channels.  It functions similarly to a Facebook brand page– a user follows a channel and then can view content like photos and video within a news feed.  Launch partners include Spotify, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Cheezburger, Dailymotion, and OK Go.

The fact that TechCrunch, an authority on emerging tech, is betting early on Tango and messaging apps is perhaps the best indication that this is a noteworthy opportunity for media owners and brands.  As further proof: only two hours after launch, Spotify’s Tango channel already had close to 25,000 followers and over 2,000 likes and 450 comments on its morning playlist posting.

As we mentioned in our recent white paper on the messaging app space, Tango is in many ways an outlier compared to the competition.  Unlike popular millennial chat apps like Kik and Snapchat, its demographic skews heavily towards 25-50+ and proves that messaging is a phenomenon impacting all age groups.  With close to 70 million users in the US, Tango has a great audience that has already proven itself very receptive to interacting with games and music on the platform.

Tango is also arguably the most brand friendly of the messaging apps, and has found success with a native ad product leveraged by companies like Dunkin’ Donuts, eBay, Spotify and others to drive app installs.  In all likelihood these ads will also become a popular way for brands to attract subscribers to Tango Channels in the future.

Channels are currently free for brands to set up, so for companies looking to experiment with messaging app marketing there’s little risk involved in this opportunity. For now Tango houses the channels tab at the top of every user’s newsfeed. Once you click into it, you can search five primary categories: Entertainment, News, Sports, Music, and Funny & Cute.  To see the program in action for yourself, click here to download the app or watch the official Channels intro video.


How Apple Can Use Beats To Beat WhatsApp

Welcome the newest competitor to the battle for messaging app domination: Apple.  This week the company announced a souped up version of iMessage that lifts a number of key features from Snapchat and WhatsApp like ephemeral messaging, and photo, video, and audio sharing.  There are three reasons the new product is unlikely to be a real threat to the big players in the space:

1. You can use the platform to interact with other iPhone users, but you need to use another service to chat with Android and Blackberry friends.

2. There’s no compelling product innovation to lure people away from their current go-to messaging apps.

3. Apple is unlikely to steal market share from Snapchat since the two platforms appeal to different demographics. WhatsApp is a more likely target, but it has a huge head start on Apple that’s hard to overcome.

If Apple really wants to shake up the messaging space, it has one big potential advantage and differentiator– Beats.  Apps like Tango have partnered with Spotify to deliver music clip sharing, and Kik has partnered with One Direction and apps like Rithm to connect with teens and acquire new users.  Music will be a key battleground in this space because people love to share it, and Apple is in the position to create a deeper music sharing experience than the competition with Beats in its arsenal.

No messaging app has corralled the entire music industry yet, but it’s only a matter of time before artist pages on these platforms are as ubiquitous as artist pages on traditional social media. Among messaging app owners, Apple is in the best position to get the music industry to embrace its products– iMessage included– since the industry already depends on iTunes.

Every label and artist wants its record featured in the iTunes app store, and Apple has premiered an impressive number of major records in the last two years including releases from Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, The Black Keys, and The National.  If Apple gives Beats and individual artists a chance to connect with users through iMessage, the music industry could play an active role in bringing its audience to the platform.

For now Apple’s messaging app approach has positioned it as a follower, but with the tools at its disposable it could easily transform into a messaging app leader. It better move fast, though, because the competition already has a serious head start.