Publishers leveraging chat reach mobile

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  • The Huffington Post on Viber. The digital-native publisher joined Viber’s Public Chats — a feature that allows publishers to publicly share real-time conversations between their journalists — in an attempt to reach the messaging app’s over 250 million monthly active users (MAUs) that are focused in Russia, India, and the Middle East. The Huffington Post claims that it now has almost 18 thousand followers for its Viber Public Chats. 
  • BBC News on WhatsApp. BBC News largely uses Facebook-owned WhatsApp for user-generated content and information gathering. For example, during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, BBC News used its WhatsApp account to gather reader photos, videos, and first-hand accounts that it later repurposed on its live news blog.
  • The Washington Post on Kik. The Washington Post has used Kik’s Promoted Chats to attract readers through quizzes and game-like experiences. While other publishers have used Kik to link back to their mobile websites, The Washington Post likely hoped its light-hearted content would drive up brand awareness among Kik’s younger userbase. 

Chat apps offer an incredible opportunity for publishers for several reasons.

  • Mobile messaging apps are showcasing massive user base growth. Earlier this month Facebook announced that it has 800 million MAUs, which is almost 2.5x larger than Twitter’s userbase. The figure also represents a 31% year-over-year increase in users and made it the fastest-growing app of 2015. 
  • Users are not only active, but also spend considerable time in these apps. On average, chat apps keep users engaged for over 30 minutes per session, according to a 2015 study commissioned by Kik. By comparison, users on Twitter and Facebook are engaged with the app for 25 minutes and 37 minutes, respectively. 
  • Users are not opposed to engaging with brands on chat apps. 79% of messaging app users claim that they are likely to engage with brands during their chat app experience, according to a 2015 MEC survey cited by Digiday. If users are open to engaging with brands that are trying to promote their products, they are likely to want to interact with news and media companies as well.

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