Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

One Week with Kik: A look at the Fast-Growing Messaging App

In Community Management, engagement, Messaging, Mobile App, Social media on August 30, 2015 at 8:27 pm

An article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal last week cited Facebook as still the No. 1 used Social Media, but with stagnant growth. The same article mentioned the expedited adoption of the start-up messaging app, Kik. Being mentioned in conjunction with the some of the most downloaded and used social apps is enough to force you pay attention to Kik, but if you need more, consider it’s 240 million users between the age of 13-24 and the 9 million of those users who have voluntarily opted in to chat with brands.

What’s Kik? : At first download, it doesn’t look that different from other messaging apps such as Viber or Facebook Messenger. But after I started “chatting” a bit it started to remind me of AOL messenger and chatting with automated bots in the fifth grade. It’s organization structure is set up in such a way that you can chat with:

  1. Your Friends: Like when you create a new account on any mobile app, Kik scans your phone and finds friends on Kik. As I am just out of that 18-24 range, I only had one friend who seemed to be already active on the app. Like Viber, friends seem to use Kik to text internationally and my friend who was on it said: “The notification noise is super satisfying.” (Hey, it never hurts to have a nice interface and few homey add ons).
  2. Topical Groups: Since I had no friends to chat with, but still wanted to get a clearer picture of how the app is being used, I did some searching for who else I could chat with. It seems in clumps of up to 50 or more, you can chat with complete strangers or anyone who is interested in a certain topic. I posted in the “Hobbits” group to see what would happen. There was immediate response from other users but I wouldn’t qualify the conversations as very valuable. Like the chatrooms of the early 90’s, most of the responses were unrelated and all over the place.
  3. Brands (Partners): Perhaps the reason that Kik is appealing is it’s brand value proposition. If the app is already being heavily utilized to chat with friends, why not open up the opportunity to brands as well? KIk’s website claims that 190 million messages have been exchanged with promoted chat accounts. In a way, this is a step up from a Twitter or Facebook exchange with a brand as it feels more personal and your question isn’t out there for the world to see. BUT it doesn’t seem like there are any actual humans on the other side of the conversation. Some of the biggest brands utilizing the app include MTV, Buzzfeed, WWF & Reddit. Their branded micro sites within the Kik app seem pretty cool. Just another place to share their content and as always, meeting users and potential customers where they already are. I started to have some conversations with these brands and wasn’t exactly thrilled with what I found.

Some Branded Conversations:

It certainly felt like chatting with a bot on AOL all of those years ago. Or maybe Siri, who is programmed to say what you want to hear. The best conversation I had was with WWF, who utilized the computer back and forth to ask trivia questions and further their cause: (and link to their landing page)

Convo with WWF on KIk

Convo with WWF on KIk

Chatting with Buzzfeed was fun too. For someone who already loves Buzzfeed’s content and can often spend a significant amount of time scrolling through the site before deciding what to read, Kik can serve as a content guide, suggesting articles and making it a more interactive reading experience.

The conversation with MTV, though seemed very one-sided. When I began chatting with them, it was clear the goal for them was to promote the VMA’s. They had an awesome micro-hub set up on Kik with all of the VMA content, which again I think highlights the potential for Kik as a distribution platform. But not so much for a conversation:

Chat with MTV on Kik

Chat with MTV on Kik

The conversation couldn’t answer the most logical question someone chatting might have: When are the VMA’s?

Let’s talk about that $50 million in funding: Whether your conversation with a brand was rewarding or not, people are using Kik. Tech Crunch reported last week that the app had raised $50 million from the biggest internet company in China with the goal of becoming the “WeChat of the West. Read more on that here.  

So, should I as a brand care about Kik? 

Looking at the evaluation and adoption rate of the app as well as the number of competitors, messaging apps don’t seem to be going anywhere. Along with more Video Sharing platforms, they might just be the two fastest growing areas in Social Media in 2016. On one hand the personal chance to chat with a customer is immensely valuable, but as with the MTV example, the system may need ironed out. (Unless you are using strictly as distribution). And like any social network, it’s only as valuable as the network itself, if it continues to grow and if your target market is using it.

Any avid Kik users out there? Is it how you chat with Friends in far away lands or would you like to have the chance to click to buy and converse with brands?



Previewing the Horror: These Scary Movies, TV Shows and Spooky Initiatives Have Great Social Campaigns

In social tv on August 8, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Netflix, Hulu Plus (with or without ads), Amazon Prime, TV on Demand.

The competition for TV shows, movies and entertainment in general is stiffer than ever and only getting worse. One inexpensive and necessary solution is social media. To get your show renewed for a new season or to ensure that your summer blockbuster makes $$ at the box office, companies and brands must show social interest and socially listen to what the fans want to see as well.

Click here to read how Hollywood monitors social chatter to target films.

With Halloween just around the corner, Horror Blockbusters, spooky TV shows and others have the chance to capitalize on the natural interest in fear.

Here’s what  a few TV Shows, Movies and other Horror Entertainment Social Outlets are doing well:

1. Great Multimedia  A new summer classic for me, Guillermo Del Toro & Carlton Cuse’s The Strain chronicles a Vampire apocalypse in the heart of New York City in the form of a spreading disease. While the trend of TV shows is heading in the direction of large lapses between seasons (Sherlock, Doctor Who, etc.), The Strain does an awesome job during both their on and off season on Facebook and Instagram. Their biggest strength is their graphic design and short video pieces that take their posts well beyond just “Tune in Tonight.”

Here’s an awesome Facebook post that fit timely with the show and, in a way, worked to simulate a real apocalypse. The raw, scientific aspect is important in the show, so of course it’s great that their social media would echo that.

They also worked up this super cute multimedia history of the Occido Lumen and came together with all of FX digital for the FX emojis app, which features The Strain texting emojis. (Click here for iOS download).


Kill the worm, kill the vamp. Posted by The Strain on Sunday, August 2, 2015

WHY IT WORKS: This is a graphic TV show– in a good way. The Strain content producers know their audience and what keeps them coming back to the show itself and it’s social channels.

2. Different Platforms/Behind the Scenes There’s really no in-between. You either live for Haunted Houses or you won’t go anywhere near them. Ever since I was about 5, I’ve been the first of those two options chasing down every scary haunted house I could get an adult to take me too. Now, I humbly consider myself a Haunted House Expert (I acted in one when I was younger). All of this goes to say that Haunted Houses are a lifestyle brand: meaning it’s not something most people just want to appear at and enjoy.

There’s huge interest in what goes into building the sets, the make-up, the costumers and the almost move quality production. Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando (#HHNUniversal), is utilizing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to convey excitement and behind-the-scenes building of this year’s houses. Each time they announce a new house, they make a big reveal of it on social media. Beginning MONTHS in advance, these announcements make it seem like it’s almost Halloween. With all of this in mind, Halloween Horror Nights Orlando launched a Snapchat where fans can engage daily without ticket messages but with pictures of gore & houses.

WHY IT WORKS: There are so many things in October on a family or individual’s consideration set. Seeing the houses or sets from beginning to finish make the audience not only feel a part of the process, but locks in their decision to make the trip or buy the ticket early.

3. Cast Member Involvement  I must admit that I had no idea who Kevin Durand or Dean Norris was. Okay, Dean might have looked familiar from that one episode of Fairly Legal, but neither were pulling me into watching The Strain or Under the Dome because their name was on the Cast list. Now, they are two of the most bad-ass bad guy fighting characters on Summer TV. I can’t say for sure that this is the TV Show’s encouragement or just happening on their own, but these two guys have taken Cast Member social media to the next level. They live tweet during new episodes of their respective series and seem to be generally interested in what fans have to say. This used to come from AMA’s or Twitter Takeovers and it still does. However, messages and commentary coming from their personal accounts just seems so authentic! Seeing their passion for the show can only make fans more and more interested. I hope to see more of this across the board, but these two actors have perfected tweeting at the right time to the audiences with the right hashtags. (Instagram too!)

Y’all ready for us tonight? @thestrainfx #TheStrain #EvilRootsRunDeep A photo posted by Kevin Durand (@thekevindurand) on Jul 26, 2015 at 10:38am PDT

Sidenote: Extreme props to the fan who commented on that Instagram post something about The Strain worming it’s way into our hearts.

WHY IT WORKS: Authenticity and passion. Fans can tell actors are loving being a part of their own shows which makes it so much more fun for fans like us, investing hours in a Netflix Binge.

4. Eye Catching Promoted Posts As the battle for timeline visibility on Twitter and Facebook gets more and more crowded, many brands are dishing out major bucks to assure their content is seen. Many social users would likely say that they do not enjoy or click on sponsored content (please comment below if you have thoughts!). But I would go as far as to say that most general users of social media do not notice which posts are sponsored and which are not as Twitter has so seamlessly woven them into the design. The content barely stands out from accounts the user already follows and algorithms spit out content so relevant, social media users are probably seeing content they think they already follow.

My point here is not to debate if ad spend is worth while or not, but to share an anecdotal story of how it has worked on me as a social consumer. I follow a lot of scary movies, authors, TV shows, etc. so when I saw this ad for Sinister 2, I assumed I had followed the account years ago before noticing that it was sponsored content. The advertisement tweet was catchy though, utilizing Twitter’s white background to create this hideaway image:

WHY IT WORKS: A simple, clever ad that also has the right amount of terror to summarize the movie is a great example of a perfectly executed social piece. It didn’t feel invasive to my timeline, and the hideaway effect made it memorable.

What movies or TV shows have you seen creating interesting and compelling campaigns?