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Latest 23 Oct 2018 | Customer Service | 7 min read

What Are Consumers Doing on Mobile Messengers?

Mobile messenger apps are undeniably hot. Nearly 80 percent of mobile users around the world have downloaded messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat, according to Adweek. But with all this talk of app users, who are these individuals, really?

Mobile App D emographics

Mobile app users skew younger than older support channels, but there are differences. Users of WhatsApp, the largest messaging app, with 1.5 billion users, are younger than those of Facebook Messenger, which has 1.3 billion users. But WhatsApp is more popular internationally, whereas Facebook Messenger has a higher adoption rate among those in the US. Twice as many young Americans – 81 percent – use Facebook Messenger as use WhatsApp.

But not all users are young. These apps have high cross-generational appeal, and their fastest growing segments tend to be older. As many as 73 percent of Americans aged 45-54 use Facebook Messenger and 19 percent use WhatsApp.

Blog 23rd October

Source credit: Statista

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So, what do users use apps for? Primarily, four things:

Sidebar conversations

A Facebook study revealed that 71 percent of users engage in sidebarring , or having a secret non-verbal conversation, often while in a social settings such as dinner or a meeting. If you have ever messaged a friend during a family gathering, that’s a sidebar. And though common, yes, it’s still considered rude. Yahoo! calls sidebarring the “new social media sin.”

Millennials (82 percent ) and teens (79 percent ) are the most likely to conduct sidebar conversations, and Facebook caters to this behavior with encrypted chat messages called Secret Conversations.

Communicating visually

Messaging app users love to trade GIFs and emojis which offer a quick and sometimes addicting way to communicate. According to Facebook, 57 percent of users have responded to a message with a GIF, and a similar number have sent a message using only emojis.

Following the popularity of SnapChat filters, Facebook added an augmented reality feature called Camera Effects to Messenger earlier this year. Beauty brand Sephora allows users to “try on” makeup looks using Camera Effects and their phone’s camera in selfie mode. Users can then message the pictures to friends, add them to Facebook Stories, or buy the products needed to create that look IRL (in real life).

In addition to visual tools like emojis, GIFs, and Camera Effects, Facebook recently introduced hands-free video chat devices called the Portal and the Portal+. The company may soon add voice commands to Messenger, making it even faster and easier to communicate via chat.

Chatting in groups

For users on different phones, chat apps can streamline group communication, whether they’re planning a birthday party, picking a movie, or exchanging funny memes to get through the work week. Group chat is particularly popular among 18-34 year olds ; a 2017 YouGov poll found that 30 percent of users in this age use group chat in text or messaging apps multiple times a day. Facebook Messenger now includes video group chat functionality, as well.

Interacting with businesses

For many customers, chatting with a business on a messenger app is an easy way to place an order or get support on the go. Domino’s has a Facebook Messenger bot where users can order a pizza (because for some millennials, phone calls take too long), and a handful of salons and other service businesses let users to make appointments via Facebook Messenger.

Once consumers contact companies privately, they rarely take that communication back to a more public forum.

Provide continuous feedback

A whopping 95 percent of managers in America dislike performance reviews, and only 14 percent of employees surveyed by Gallup believe that performance reviews inspire them to try harder. Much of this is due to how reviews are administered.

"Three in four employees receive feedback just once or twice per year," said Deborah Holstein, chief marketing officer at BetterWorks, an HR software for continuous performance management. "When managers 'save up' their feedback and coaching it doesn't help to improve team member performance and it actually hurts their engagement." Far better to provide employees with continuous, ongoing feedback.


Users also turn to mobile messengers when they need to resolve an issue with a business. For instance, they might tweet or direct message an airline about a flight issue or Facebook message a retailer about a missing package. Our research shows that once consumers contact companies privately, they rarely take that communication back to a more public forum. That can help the company avoid PR headaches and allow the customer to share details that can speed up the resolution process.

Curious what brands are doing on chat? Let’s chat.

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