These Emerging Social Networks Could Change Your Business

You’ve heard the notion that technological advancements, among other factors, have flattened the world, opening the doors of the global marketplace to people who previously didn’t have access. The same reality can be found in the world of social media, where online conversation has connected people globally. Over the past few years, we’ve used Twitter to witness major global events in real time, including the uprising in Egypt, the escalating conflict between Ukraine and Russia and even the takedown of the world’s most infamous terrorist. Although we generally think about that engagement unfolding on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, it’s important for brands to think globally when it comes to marketing social media content. There are plenty of other outlets in use today with millions of devoted followers, many of them with the potential to permanently alter the way brands and marketers disseminate and gather information. Before diving in, we recommend you bask in the awesomeness of these incredible 2015 stats on global social media use, compiled by London-based marketing agency We Are Social. The agency estimates there are 2.08 billion active social media accounts—impressive considering the world’s population stands at approximately 7.2 billion people. (Yes, we realize you in the millennial-and-younger crowd throw those account totals a nice curve.)

Network #1: Banjo

The first platform that should be on marketers’ radar is Banjo, which is nicely profiled this month over at Inc. Banjo is a big deal because it has the ability to gather and visualize social media activity across multiple platforms, anywhere on the planet, in perpetuity. Not only does it monitor traffic, it synthesizes information based on geography, language, topic and more to create a holistic international newsroom, of sorts. “The software itself is Banjo’s secret weapon, which [founder Damien] Patton says is capable of performing two quadrillion-plus calculations on the “hundreds of thousands of geo-tagged mobile posts” flooding in each minute,” wrote Inc. editor-at-large Will Bourne. What are the marketing implications of this innovative new approach to storytelling? Over at Fortune, Heather Clancy explains how Banjo will soon introduce an enterprise service that enables marketers to see how their brands are being referenced across platforms. Journalists and consumer products companies are among those Banjo is wooing, Clancy adds, and dozens of businesses already have signed up. (Bonus read: Check out how Banjo works with this fun visualization of social banter from the recent Final Four game between Wisconsin and Kentucky.)

Networks #2 and #3: QQ and WeChat

If you haven’t heard of QQ or WeChat, you obviously don’t live in China. These chat-based platforms have an enormous following. QQ alone has 829 million monthly active users, placing it second only to Facebook, which has more than 1.39 billion. Now that we’ve got your attention, consider a couple of recent announcements with implications for marketers. First, QQ is moving to access a broader audience. Facebook users can now use QQ Chat to instant-message with QQ users in English “with built-in live chat translations to Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Japanese,” parent company Tencent notes. Meanwhile, in an announcement in late March, The Hollywood Reporter revealed its news, videos and other social content will be syndicated across Tencent platforms including QQ. On WeChat, which similarly has hundreds of millions of users, active brands include McDonald’s and PepsiCo. Over at Magnetic Content, writer Nel Wolf advises brands to pay attention to WeChat for three reasons: they can learn from it, build on its seamless functionality and find ways to give audience members the sense of exclusivity they crave. As brands seek to grow their reach abroad, partnerships such as these represent opportunities previously unavailable. That’s true for editorial content as well as advertising, MarketingLand notes. Look for China-based social platforms to cut into global ad spending in the future.

Network #4: WhatsApp

You probably heard Facebook purchased messenger WhatsApp for a whopping $22 billion not too long ago. What you might not realize, though, is plenty of brands already are investing in chat-based marketing with the platform. Take the oft-mentioned Absolut Vodka campaign of 2013 in which the brand launched a UGC campaign via WhatsApp encouraging fans to convince an imaginary persona named Sven to grant them access to an exclusive party. Clarks, a shoe brand, will use the hip factor to educate consumers about its lineup via WhatsApp this year. Over at Social Media Today, writer Nick Chowdrey encourages brands to add a WhatsApp share button to their websites. He notes web traffic increasingly comes from mobile devices and that people want the freedom to share content privately via messengers, among other delivery systems. More businesses will experiment with WhatsApp this year thanks to its broadcast feature — essentially a blind carbon copy-capable messaging service into which recipients can opt in or out, writes Samantha Collier at practicalecommerce.com.

Network #5: Line

Last but certainly not least in our shortlist for the week is Line. Popularized in Japan, this platform recently earned accolades on Fast Company’s list of the most innovative companies of 2015. Part messenger, part game and part sub-culture, Line helps brands connect with people using an array of tools including messages, stickers and cute emoji, as the Beta Twenty One blog notes in this very informative post. Doesn’t sound like a social platform that will revolutionize much of anything? Consider that the platform enables users to make payments, hail a cab and navigate indoor spaces such as malls, ClickZ notes. Oh, the possibilities. (And if you’re advanced enough to gear up for a Line push, Tokyo Web Designs has the codes and YouTube tutorials needed to get started.) In a very real sense, the word “global” is becoming harder to pin down. As social media companies old and new jockey for a place in users’ lives, brands will have new opportunities to interact, educate and even unlock new purchasing capabilities. Grab your phone, download a new social media app and prepare to travel across our ever-flattening world.

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