Can These 5 Messaging Apps Catch Up to Snapchat?

Messaging apps more and more are trying to swipe Snapchat’s mojo, rolling out an assortment of updates that reflect the wildly popular app’s panoply of polychromatic filters and face-altering effects, among other features. Facebook, which leads the copycatters, last week added a camera-zooming function to its mobile app that’s been available on Snapchat for some time. Also last week, Facebook-owned Instagram unveiled live stories, mimicking another Snapchat staple. Meanwhile, Google is gearing up this fall to launch the app Allo, which will share obvious similarities with Snapchat. “The Snapchat killers are all nipping at its heels in their own way,” said marketing consultant David Deal. “[They] are challenging Snapchat’s dominance of content scarcity and creative storytelling.” Here, a breakdown of how Facebook, Google and other challengers stack up.


Baseline: It’s all about scale and data for Facebook, with two mobile apps that each boast 1 billion regular users.

Battleground: Facebook Messenger mimics Snapchat features like secret chats, and COO Sheryl Sandberg recently said her team planned to add content to the app. Colorful selfie filters are being tested in Brazil and Canada.

Challenge: Neither Messenger nor Instagram has proved it can adopt quirky tools to attract Gen Y.

Future: Expect a big rollout for the selfie feature. “Users [would] win since they don’t need to leave the Facebook ecosystem,” said Peter Bassett, David&Goliath digital director.


Baseline: Instagram has drawn 500 million users due to its fancy photo and video filters, which help amateurs feel more like auteurs.

Battleground: A few weeks ago, the app introduced stories that disappear in 24 hours, à la Snapchat. On Aug. 17, it followed up by introducing live stories and real-time videos that also copy its rival.

Challenge: Too many Snapchat-esque tweaks could make Instagram a confusing experience. “As kids put it, ‘Instagram is where you post to impress your friends; Snapchat is where you go just to hang out,'” explained Vince Bahk, vp of client services at Organic.

Future: It will likely test more Snapchat elements to offer “the best of both worlds,” said Valerie Davis, svp of paid media at PMX Agency.


Baseline: The app boasts 300 million users who average six chats per day at nearly 13 minutes per session.

Battleground: Kik has long competed directly with Snapchat by offering multimedia, smiley stickers and bots. So far, it seems to have worked.

Challenge: Can it grow its teen “super user” group with Snapchat-like tweaks? If it does, any new features must feel organic, industry watchers concur.

Future: Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC, suggested that creative chat bots could help Kik make “serious inroads with the younger part of Snapchat’s demo.”

Baseline: The Japanese app has amassed 218 million global monthly users thanks to a plethora of services that include thousands of emojis and a voice-calling feature.

Battleground: Line was early to emulate Snapchat, introducing hidden messages in 2014. This past May, it renewed its Snapchat rivalry by launching a selfie app with a slew of emoji-minded filters.

Challenge: As Line’s latest numbers put U.S. users at 25 million, it is unclear whether it can truly challenge Snapchat here.

Future: To attract U.S. consumers, Line should keep spying the frontrunner, said Ben Hordell, founder of DXagency. “Snapchat has essentially served as an excellent focus group for them,” he added.

Baseline: A precious handful of tech players rival the bank account and the brain power of Google, and Allo will be one to watch as the messaging app battle heats up.

Battleground: The product will offer a promising private-chat feature called incognito mode that will delete encrypted chats.

Challenge: It is late to an already very crowded party.

Future: Google knows how to integrate apps with commercial functions. “It is the dark-horse Snapchat killer,” said Deal. “Google has the muscle to create a more pervasive experience for brands and users.”

Source: Adweek, article by Christopher Heine (

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Effective Ways to Generate Leads Through Digital Marketing

Lead generation is at the heart of all businesses. Entrepreneurs and marketers are constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways to enhance their lead generation strategies.

Building a strong base of customer leads is crucial for every business. Numerous digital marketing tools have surfaced over the years to aid in the process. Each of these tools plays a major role in putting together an effective lead generation strategy.

The number of Internet users worldwide has been found to be 3.5 billion. If your business relies primarily on local customers, chances are, your potential customers are a part of this figure. Here are some effective strategies that can help you generate more leads through your digital marketing efforts.

Request for Reviews

The power of online reviews is immense. Did you know that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Consumers have increasingly been turning to online referrals before making a purchasing decision. One of the best ways to leverage this is by asking for reviews from your existing customers. You can ask your customers to fill up a short form on your website for this purpose.

In addition to that, you can claim your business’s listing in top review sites and ask your customers to post a review there. More the number of positive reviews, better will the prospects for your business.

Conduct Online Contests with Special Offers

A special offer works as a bonus to motivate a person to take action. If you plan on conducting a contest, you can consider offering a discount to the consumer who wins it. Additionally, you can also provide an offer at the end of a survey or a request for review.

The offers can be as simple as a discount on a product or a service that your business provides. For example, if you have a car dealership, a discount on private number plates can be quite effective. A gift certificate can be used as well.

Such campaigns can be highly effective in attracting new leads for your business.

Leverage Social Media

With 2.1 billion active social media users, this platform is a goldmine for lead generation. Most of your potential customers are quite likely to be on social media. Therefore, leveraging social media should be given maximum priority.

For example, you can consider investing in engaging content and posting them on various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc. Instagram can also be used to post pictures and short demo videos of your products etc.

There are numerous ways to increase social media engagement for your business. Social media sites provide marketers with an opportunity to initiate interactions with customers. Additionally, this also helps in building credibility and trust.

Create a ‘How-to’ Guide

Many consumers may be confused with the services and products that your business offers. This is where a ‘how-to’ guide becomes relevant. It simplifies the information that you wish to convey to your existing as well as potential customers. A complex process can be broken down into simple steps to help your customers understand it easily.

You can consider creating an engaging blog post for this purpose. You can post an infographic, an article or even an e-book. A short video can also be highly effective. It is advisable to include a call-to-action at the end of the blog post or the video leading to the relevant page of your website to enable customers to take action.

Focus on SEO Strategies

Organic search is one of the most vital source of traffic for businesses which primarily relies on the proper utilisation of the right keywords. Therefore, it is important to have strong keywords in your website’s landing pages that rank well in Google search results.

You can also consider focusing on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign to see immediate results. Google AdWords is highly effective for this purpose. You can choose specific keywords and pay only when someone clicks on them to go to the relevant landing page. Depending on the performance, you can adjust your budget.

These strategies are highly effective in generating valuable leads for your business. That being said, it is important to track the results of your efforts and adjust them accordingly to ensure that favourable results are generated from the strategies that you implement.

Source: Business Zone, article by Kent Charlie (

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instagram stories

Instagram Stories Sends A Clear Message To Digital Marketers

Instagram took aim at Snapchat with the launch of its Stories platform, which allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The news should light a fire under brands that have yet to embrace ‘ephemeral marketing’.

As Instagram has evolved into the place to post highly stylized, curated photos of “perfect moments”, Snapchat took off with young people who just want to share the little details of their everyday lives — things they buy, what they’re wearing, stuff they’re eating, and who they’re hanging out with. Now, with Stories, Instagram hopes to “lower the bar for sharing all types of photos and video — and not just the carefully planned and painstakingly touched-up photographs that are typical of the service,” said Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram.

For marketers, Instagram’s launch of Stories underscores the importance of creating a new type of less-stylized brand content for these 24-hour social platforms. Snapchat, and now Instagram Stories, get closest to the holy-grail of marketing: the ability for brands to share authentic photos and videos that don’t “feel like ads” but still build strong brand lifestyle. When brands post content on Snapchat, it’s opt-in and interactive. Users choose whether they want to see the content, and can doodle on it, share it, or insert it into their own stories.

But these ephemeral social platforms also pose a huge challenge to marketers: creating enough of the right type of content. Whereas brands are accustomed to scheduling regular posts on Facebook FB, Instagram, and Pinterest – often using social media marketing platforms to create and manage content flows – Snapchat is more reactive, immediate, and constant. The highly-curated and staged posts brands are used to creating (or, more often, having their agencies create) for Facebook have no place on 24-hour platforms. Instead, Snapchat users want to interact with light, lower-bar content that paints the brands they love in a familiar tone. “Blooper” videos, behind-the-scenes photos, or user snapshots taken at live events are popular types of brand content on Snapchat. Simply put, the rise of Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories proves that digital storytelling is evolving .

So what can brands do to get ahead of the curve on the newest social marketing platforms? The first order of business is to bring more of their creative services in house, because timeliness will become a lot more important. Instead of scheduling two or three posts a week, with Snapchat and Instagram Stories, brands will have to post content at least once a day. Instagram Stories are also a good opportunity to leverage brand influencers. A popular tactic on Snapchat stories is to collaborate with an influencer to do a Snapchat takeover. Brands can do the same on Instagram. Influencers visiting the brand HQ can give viewers a behind the scenes look from their perspective for the day. The outcome is mutually beneficial: an influencer’s trusted content validates a company’s brand, while generating publicity and recognition for the influencer. Brands will have to mimic the type of fun, unstaged, interactive photos and videos that young millennials themselves post on these platforms.

Second, with Instagram Stories brands will have to start treating candid, less-staged photos as real marketing material. Brands can still operate within style guidelines, but will have to accept a broader range of content within those guidelines. On 24-hour social platforms, brands must move from airbrushed to authentic, skipping the polished and glossy images to instead include more raw and spontaneous posts. A great way for brands to increase these type of posts is to include user-generated content in their marketing arsenals. Consumers who post photos and videos of brand products are valuable influencers; marketers can re-share some of these posts on Snapchat and Instagram Stories to create an authentic, grassroots feel to their marketing content.

The rise of Snapchat, and now Instagram Stories, is a prime example of a shift that was already underway in marketing: Today’s audiences crave authenticity from brands. Young people in particular largely ignore traditional ads, instead expecting their favorite brands to engage with them in fun, personal, entertaining ways. The launch of Instagram Stores proves the time has come for marketers to loosen the controls on what’s acceptable brand content. Whether Instagram Stories can catch up to Snapchat remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: authentic, visual brand storytelling is the future of marketing.

Source: Forbes. Article by Kyle Wong(

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Instagram’s Ad Revenue Could Surpass Twitter’s This Year

Instagram had passed Twitter in terms of total users by the end of 2014. But it wasn’t until over a year later that Instagram counted more advertisers on its platform. That’s largely due to the fact that Instagram didn’t open its advertising products to everyone until late last year.

While Facebook doesn’t break out revenue from Instagram, it’s quite possible that the photo-sharing app could surpass Twitter’s ad revenue as soon as this year. Some analysts are estimating the app will bring in over $2 billion in revenue by the end of 2016, and Credit Suisse believes it could bring in $3.2 billion. By comparison, Twitter is expected to generate around $2.7 billion in total revenue, according to the consensus analyst estimate. Twitter historically generates about 90% of revenue from ads, which would be about $2.4 billion.

How Instagram will pass Twitter

Instagram now has 500 million users and it’s growing faster than ever. Cowen and Co. analyst John Blackledge says the app is adding 366,000 new users per day, compared to 350,000 users per day back when it had between 300 million and 400 million users.

Twitter’s user growth, by comparison, has stalled out around 320 million. The app even lost users in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, when it exhibited no user growth globally.

Plus, Instagram has around 100 million U.S. users while Twitter has just 65 million. The U.S. is generally the most valuable market for advertisers, and Facebook monetized U.S. users at a rate 3.75 times higher than its global average.

On top of that, Instagram has more than double the number of daily active users (DAUs) of Twitter. Instagram says 300 million of its users access the app daily. While Twitter doesn’t report its daily active users, its last update was that 44% of its monthly users logged in on a daily basis as of the second quarter last year. That would put it’s DAUs around 141 million, which is in line with analyst estimates. With more than twice as many users logging in every day, Instagram only has to monetize them at half the rate of Twitter to produce higher ad revenue.

The current state of Instagram advertising

It’s still very early going for advertisers on Instagram, and in the first couple of quarters most of the ad spend on the photo-sharing app cannibalized spend on Facebook, according to data collected by William Blair analyst Ralph Schackart.

In the fourth quarter, Instagram ad spend accounted for 3% to 7% of Facebook’s total ad revenue, according to “industry contacts.” That implies that Instagram was already at a $1 billion run rate in the fourth quarter when its parent company generated $5.6 billion in ad revenue.

As Instagram continues to ramp up advertising, and more advertisers come on board, and more users join the network, Instagram will surely surpass Twitter’s ad revenue. Whether it can do that by the end of the year remains to be seen, but given the trends at both companies, it’s not out of the question.

Going forward, Schackart said his source believes Instagram advertising will be largely incremental now that marketers have gotten their bearings. If it does indeed surpass Twitter this year and produce around $2.5 billion in ad revenue, that would be around 10% of what analysts are currently expecting Facebook to bring in this year. Not bad for its first full year of monetization.

A secret billion-dollar stock opportunity

The world’s biggest tech company forgot to show you something, but a few Wall Street analysts and the Fool didn’t miss a beat: There’s a small company that’s powering their brand-new gadgets and the coming revolution in technology. And we think its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors!

Source: Article by Adam Levy (

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Some Media Companies Cool on YouTube Distribution

In May, the do-it-yourself, home-and-garden site Hometalk made its first big push into video on Facebook.

Since then, its Facebook video audience has surged, driven by clips such as an eco-friendly oven cleaning technique that has garnered over 38 million views since July 2, according to Hometalk’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, Miriam Illions.

That’s far more attention than Hometalk’s videos have generated on YouTube, where it has had a limited presence for years.

“Facebook is so instant,” Ms. Illions said, because of the inherent sharing that is part of the social network, helping videos reach more people.

Hometalk’s audience has been “nothing to write home about on YouTube,” she said. With the Google-owned video site, “it’s painful to know that these videos are sitting there” without the same level of promotion.

While a relatively small brand like Hometalk may not represent the entire web publishing world, Ms. Illions is not alone. Even as the media business becomes more fixated on web video, some publishers are questioning whether YouTube is still worth their investment.

“You never count Google out, but something has to change at YouTube, or Facebook and Snapchat are going to own this world,” said a prominent digital media executive. For some newer media companies, YouTube has become an afterthought, this person said. “Google can’t rest on its laurels.”

The shift in tone regarding YouTube shows how quickly the technology and media landscape as well as consumer habits have evolved. YouTube, founded in 2005, reaches 1 billion people a month, and the platform has built a sizable, mature ad business that shares revenue with creators. Yet the video site is now crowded with more content than ever, and it doesn’t have the built-in network for sharing that helps other sites rapidly amass viewers, particularly on mobile.

A fair number of publishing executives say they are now more bullish on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and, in some cases, even Twitter when it comes to amassing video audiences.

“A lot of media organizations have struggled on YouTube,” said Josh Topolsky, the former head of digital at Bloomberg who previously helped launch The Verge. “They wish it was more of a social network.”

There are several examples of companies with large Facebook and Instagram video audiences that have generated only modest viewership on YouTube. The short-form video startup NowThis has over 6.7 million fans on Facebook, where its videos generate thousands, if not tens of thousands of views. On YouTube, NowThis has just under 17,000 subscribers and its videos sometimes struggle to crack a thousand views. Similarly, the Daily Mail’s videos on Facebook attract hundreds of thousands of views, but barely register on YouTube.

Mr. Topolsky and other executives noted that, for many people, YouTube often serves as a video search engine and not a place where people connect with friends, limiting its ability to help users discover new videos and have them spread.

To be sure, YouTube has fostered an ecosystem of homegrown creators who do continue to thrive on the platform. These YouTube stars have established their own form of video content, driven by personalities, often talking to their fans directly about topics ranging from videogames to beauty or hair tips. Given their fans’ propensity to subscribe to YouTube channels and to comment and share, they likely very much see YouTube as a kind of social network.

But, as many executives noted, media companies don’t generally excel at creating this type of personality-driven content, and young people don’t necessarily turn to YouTube seeking professionally produced videos from big media brands.

According to Scott Grimes, co-founder and non-executive chairman of the young male-oriented web company Woven Digital, publishers need help standing out amidst the sea of YouTube stars. But YouTube doesn’t make it easy for content to get discovered or shared—key strengths of other social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, he said.

“People underrate the shareability,” Mr. Grimes said. “That’s really how you grow your audience as a publisher.”

Mr. Grimes said that if he were starting a new media company now, he’d focus on Facebook and less on YouTube, though his company is not abandoning YouTube.

YouTube, for its part, says that more and more creators and media companies are publishing on its platform and finding audiences. “In the past year alone, we’ve launched thousands of additional news channels to YouTube and the time people spent watching news content has more than doubled. Our partner revenue growth has averaged 50% over the last three years” said a YouTube spokeswoman.

The Web video giant recently introduced a live mobile streaming offering. Plus, it boasts of content distribution deals with media giants like the NFL and has made strides in getting advertisers to consider it as an alternative outlet for TV budgets.

There are companies like Vox Media creating original videos that often exceed 4 million views on YouTube. Or take BuzzFeed. Even as the company has rolled out 20 unique brands on Facebook, including the food-oriented Tasty (which has a staggering 65 million fans on Facebook), the media startup has continued to pour resources into YouTube, where series like “The Try Guys” regularly garner millions of views.

To its credit, YouTube has helped nurture newer media brands such as the general interest WatchCut and the news-oriented Seeker Daily, both of which have amassed more than 1 million subscribers over the past few years, while attracting far fewer Facebook fans.

Some publishers contend that while it’s harder to gain viewership on YouTube, the audience proves to be far more engaged and loyal.

“On YouTube, once they are with you, they are with you,” said Steven Oh, chief business officer at the progressive-leaning web video company The Young Turks.

It’s worth noting that YouTube shares 55% of the revenue generated by pre-roll ads with the publisher, while Facebook, for instance, doesn’t offer pre-roll video ads. But, at the same time, Facebook has been paying media companies and celebrities directly to create videos and experiment with its Facebook Live feature.

“There are no deals to be had at YouTube that are particularly compelling,” said Jon Steinberg, the former Daily Mail and BuzzFeed executive who recently launched the business-oriented video brand Cheddar with a big focus on Facebook Live. “There is no discovery, and there are nickel-and-dimey [ad rates].”

The power of Facebook’s vast network—not to mention the fact that videos play automatically on the site and that Facebook’s algorithm appears to favor video—is hard for publishers to resist.

“We see YouTube as a valuable place,” said Micah Gelman, senior editor and director of editorial video at the Washington Post. “But the pure audience on Facebook is so much bigger.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal. Article by Mike Shields (

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