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Dark Social and Chat Apps

Dark Social and Chat Apps image

Updated: Oct 3

Dark Social and Chat Apps image

In 2020, Visual Capital positions WhatsApp by Monthly Active Users (MAUs)in 2020, owned by Facebook, second in the world with approximately 65 billion messages sent every day. That’s 45 million messages per minute.

Back in 2017 when I wrote the following article about WhatApps and Dark Social, the app hadn’t yet reached these heights of popularity.

It’s 2017: What would I do without WhatsApp!

I communicate daily on this app with everyone important in my life around the world.

Dark Social

Closed apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger and WeChat are private and closed to marketers, rather than the open and transparent platforms of Facebook and Twitter. The closed apps is the area called Dark Social and there is less potential for marketers to be able to monitor, advertise, or buy their way into these conversations with audiences.

Last month I noticed that Nuala McGovern, a journalist and broadcaster with BBC World Service, was specifically mentioning WhatsApp for the phone number they wanted listeners to contact the station on. There is going to be a move away from real-time social strategies from brands and more of a focus towards conversation-based approaches from brands when dealing with their publics.

How are brands missing out on the insights?

The challenge for brands is to get the holistic understanding and what the topics of conversations are, at the moment, because chat apps are moving social marketing towards conversations. Some of the implications are that it is difficult to engage in social listening techniques to get that quality information insight around conversations being had and what the sentiment is.

People enjoy having conversations with one another

Of significance is that people using messaging apps are less willing to accept interruption based marketing such as advertisements into their conversations on social platforms and this way, social platforms are returning to the social way of the audiences having conversations with each-other. Brands may have to let audiences come to them, as opposed to advertising to the audience -see my article on Inbound Marketing – and provide both valuable content and good information.

And this is where Chatbots could come in handy.

With more users spending their time on messaging platforms than on social media, brands will need to shift their mobile strategy toward messaging and chatbots. Why? Because this is where their users are now spending their time.


Furthermore a messaging app leading the way, China’s WeChat, is just the surface of what messaging apps can actually do. WeChat is setting the bar high both in messaging and social media, but it is also an e-commerce platform with a ticketing platform for restaurants, to hail a cab, and so on, and you can pay for all these on the app. It’s creating that commerce based link from businesses and brands to businesses directly.

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