Business Monday

Three ways to use chat apps to promote your business

Tasha Cunningham
Tasha Cunningham Miami Herald

More and more brands are using mobile messaging apps like Viber, Telegram, Snapchat and Line to communicate with their customers. Companies like General Electric, Taco Bell and others are using these apps to reach the coveted millennial audience of 18- to 34-year-old consumers raised on social media and technology. Millennials account for 24 percent of the U.S. population according to Nielsen, a consumer research firm. Small businesses should take a cue from major brands and explore incorporating mobile messaging apps into their online marketing efforts. Here are three ways to use chat apps to reach customers.

▪ Share videos and photos: Sharing videos via Snapchat is a smart way to reach consumers. In 2014, Snapchat was the third most popular messaging app among millennials, according to ComScore, ahead of both Facebook and Instagram. With nearly 33 percent market penetration and 30 million active users, sharing videos and photos is an excellent way to promote your brand. Taco Bell used Snapchat to post a mini-movie when it launched a new Doritos-flavored taco. Snapchat is free to download. Don’t just limit the videos you share to the products you sell. Use Snapchat to help consumers get to know your brand by posting behind-the-scenes video or photo of your employees creating something new. To learn more, visit

▪ Make it a game: WhatsApp, an ad-free messaging platform owned by Facebook, has grown steadily since its debut in 2009 to over 450 million users in 2014. WhatsApp experienced a surge in popularity when singer Katy Perry used WhatsApp to create a music video in 2013. Since WhatsApp doesn’t have advertising, brands from around the world have had to get creative to successfully engage with consumers around the world. In Israel, a chocolate company called Klik used WhatsApp to create a game similar to Simon Says to reach their customers. People were encouraged to download the game by adding Klik as a contact. The game asked players to complete a series of actions using the words “Klik Says.” Players messaged back pictures of themselves completing each action. Think about how you can engage your customers with a fun game involving photo or video. WhatsApp is free to download and 99 cents a year thereafter. To find out more, visit

▪ Host a discussion online: This Japanese messaging app has more than 300 million users. The popular TV show The Walking Dead used LINE to host a discussion in which 30,000 fans participated. LINE is a great way to engage directly with customers. The app features a snazzy photo-editing tool which The Walking Dead used to distribute photos to fans that they could share with others. It’s also got a timeline feature similar to Facebook and users can also share their location with others. Users can also use Viber to make free voice calls. LINE is free to download. Get it at

For more ways to use mobile messaging apps to promote your small business, visit the Miami Herald’s Starting Gate blog.

Tasha Cunningham is a vice president at Commonground/MGS.