Tumblr this week announced it was adding direct messaging to its platform.
This follows a trend of social platforms adding direct messaging capability. Instagram added direct messages in December 2013 via its Instagram Direct product, Pinterest added direct message capability in August 2014 while Facebook demonstrated its focus on the messenger side of its platform when it forced its users to download a separate Facebook Messenger app in August 2014 (something they were criticised for at the time). Twitter of course has long had direct message capability but it made a major decision to abandon the 140 character limit in DMs in August 2014.
The strategies of the social media networks demonstrates the growing importance of mobile messaging.
In parallel of course the stand along messenger apps such as Apple imessage, WhatsApp and Wechat have continued to show significant growth.
The following 5 stats indicate just how significant the mobile messenger market has become:
- Whatsapp surpassed 900m users as of September 2015with over 30 billion messages sent every day
- Facebook Messenger has over 700m monthly active users with over 9.5 billion photos sent every month
- Facebook messenger is the 2nd most popular app in the USA (after Facebook itself)
- Wechat (a messenger app focused on the Asian market) has hit 650m monthly users
- Pew Research data showed that 36% of smartphone users use messenger apps with 49% of 18-29 year olds using messenger apps
The overall market seems to be segmenting along 3 basic lines
- the ‘traditional’ social networks where people publish 1:many (public or large group)
- the mobile messenger market where people communicate privately (1:1 or 1:few)
- the hybrid market of groups (think Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups) where people communicate and discuss with a targeted sub group
The use cases are very different. Marketers need to understand the trend but tread with caution – they may be less welcome in the more private and intimate settings.