3 Emerging Social Networks with Killer Marketing Potential

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Oh, marketers. We seem to always be disproportionately seduced by the latest social media channels.

Remember the buzz over Ello in 2014 and Meerkat in 2015? Now it’s all about Kik, Peach and Anchor.fm. What’s the deal with these networks, and is it worth getting involved? Or is it all just hype in the tech journalism echo chamber, leaving these channels destined to plummet? And what’s the deal with all these marquee rollouts, anyway?

 

So Many Shiny Objects

Social media has the potential to connect businesses with buyers in ways that were unimaginable just a decade ago. Heaps of connectivity – and let’s be honest, heaps of cash too – entice entrepreneurs and developers to continuously try and launch the next Facebook. But not all platforms are created equal.

For business leaders trying to figure out this constantly shifting marketing landscape, it can feel overwhelming. Each social channel has its particular crowd, culture, uses, strengths, weaknesses, integrations and so forth, and that goes for newer as well as older ones.

So let’s take a look at Kik, Peach and Anchor.fm in this context, to try and discern what they’re all about – and to what extent it’s worth establishing a marketing presence on each.

 

Integrated Chat With Kik

  • What It Is
    In short, Kik is a direct messaging service. Users can text and chat using a unique handle, bouncing across phones, tablets and laptops. It’s often compared to China’s super-popular WeChat.But that’s just the beginning. Less then two years ago, the company debuted bots, which connect the physical world with the virtual. Take an example from the company’s corporate blog: a Kik user scans a code at a restaurant, which utilizes Kik’s bots to offer a drink menu. The user taps their drink order, and a beverage arrives. Everybody wins.

 

  • How It Began
    Kik isn’t some Silicon Valley scion. College buddies at the University of Waterloo in Canada founded the company in 2009, and they’ve since scored five rounds of funding totaling over $150 million. The app launched in 2010, snagging its first million users inside of a month. Blackberry soon kicked the app off its network, but that proved to be a blessing, as Kik pivoted to a more platform-based service.Today some 240 million in the U.S. connect with Kik, many of them millennials. It might not be the most well-known social channel, but six years in, with a user community and VC injections that large, Kik hardly the new kid on the block that many assume it is.

 

  • Make It Work
    The power of Kik rests with a platform that allows firms to grow their networks and create opportunities for texts and connections beyond emails and Facebook posts.Video offers opportunities for Kik users to earn points in exchange for watching advertiser clips. This Kik-based video ad campaign from K-Swiss is a fine example, with 55% of viewers indicating that they intended to purchase products from the brand.

The potential on Kik for the rest of us is major. Smaller brands can connect with audiences in ways that make service fun, enticing and easy. In the case of a local business, users can order a round via Kik, and we’ll give you happy hour prices. In the case of a retailer or consumer goods company, users can watch videos to collect points and discounts.

 

Private, Asynchronous Chat With Peach

  • What It Is
    Peach is a network for sharing text posts, emoji and gifs with friends. Econsultancy’s Jack Simpson describes it as “More Vine than Instagram. Like Snapchat but without the transient nature.”The “Magic Words” feature allows users to use keystring shortcuts to trigger automated attachments to posts, which Mashable calls “ingenious.” Unlike Twitter, Peach is designed to connect friends and family who know each other well – it’s not a public-facing platform. There’s no newsfeed, no hashtags and no public posts.

 

  • How It Began
  • When a founder of Vine launches a new channel, people listen. Dom Hofmann dropped Peach in January, and it’s just starting to ripen.Following a press barrage early on, the company has kept a low profile in recent months, announcing version rollouts via Twitter. As a result, many are speculating that people have stopped using the app very much and the buzz is over, but considering how new Peach is, it’s too soon to tell what’s going on – and besides, little mystery can sometimes work in a brand’s favor.

 

  • Make It Work
    Indeed, the question remains as to whether Peach has staying power. “A great app you don’t need,” was Bloomberg’s take. Can it grow or pivot? Peach may need more time to shake out.However, there’s still room to experiment. Merriam-Webster serves as a great example of a brand generating remarkable engagement on Peach. Dictionaries aren’t usually hot movers, but the quick scrolls and Magic Word features make it a fit. Peach could offer an opening to brands that hit words well but perhaps aren’t so visual.

Micro-Podcast Conversations With Anchor.fm

  • What It Is
    fm is all about democratizing short-form audio. Users don’t need fancy microphones or editing software – just an iPhone and a voice to record two-minute snippets. The platform supports recording and sharing, with posts (called “Waves”) inviting others to listen and respond with their own two minutes of thought.The more people listen and respond, the more people see the original “broadcast.” This is social, after all. But the goal is to create a new space for sound-based dialogue.

 

  • How It Began
    Nir Zicherman and Michael Mignano, both Aviary alums, thought the internet deserved more than just Grantland-style podcast-length audio. So they created it. They quit their jobs, and fm officially launched in January 2016.It’s hard to get a handle on just how many people have dialed in – the company currently has slightly north of 13,000 Twitter follows, but there are few other numbers available. But the potential for audio content traction is huge (one-third of Americans are now podcast listeners, according to the latest stats), and the mainstream press has been getting active on Anchor, including NPR affiliate WNYC and the Associated Press.

 

  • Make It Work
    Many have latched onto Anchor.fm as a verbal to-do list – turn on your phone, dump your brain. It’s a replacement for Evernote, in a way, but without the typing and with reactions from the general public. News stations have used Anchor to solicit audience responses they can play on-air, and bloggers have added the service as an option for commenting on posts.Singing contests, quick answers to a “question of the day,” anything where verbal acuity could work. Based on the news usage, the audience likely skews a little bit older than, say, Kik, but again, the company doesn’t appear to have released much information yet, so that’s just a good guess.

 

High Returns for Getting in Early

In general, getting involved on a new platform can grow an audience significantly as the platform grows – the earliest adopters on Kik now have far easier access to all of those millennials than those getting started now do.

Early adopters have the opportunity to make a big splash in a small pond, generating impact that continues to ripple outwards as platforms grow. Getting in early also lets brands look edgy and progressive.

On the flip side, it’s a given that not all new social media channels will challenge Facebook. Will these guys carve out sustainable niches? Pivot to become something new? Fold before they get going?

Peach may vanish. Anchor.fm is still finding its identity. Kik may get out-muscled by Facebook Messenger. In the meantime, these platforms offer new ways for creative businesses to aim for new audiences.

 


Gabrielle is a digital marketing consultant based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter or email her at gab@gabriellesadeh.com to stay in touch.


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