Here's How Important Message Apps Are to Business 2016

Back in 2015 I wrote a piece on Message Apps as "SMS +". I said that brands and their agencies, along with enterprises, are wise to keep their eye on these new apps to understand strengths and weaknesses.

What an understatement. Here we are mid-2016 and businesses that are not figuring out message apps could end up playing catch-up to everyone else as businesses and consumers zoom headlong into full message app mode.

One of Mary Meeker's Top TakeAways from her infamous Internet Report 2016 - according to the Recode blog is about message apps:
The home screen has acted as the de facto portal on mobile devices since the arrival of the iPhone and even before. Messaging apps, with context and time, have a chance to rival the home screen as the go-to place for interaction.

The big players - WhatsApp, Line, WeChat (in Asia) have massive numbers with hundreds of millions of monthly active users. It could make perfect sense that those apps become the portal on mobile devices. In addition, conversational commerce - utilizing chat and messaging to interact with people, brands, or services and bots - is hot now and will get hotter in 2017.

And players that were once popular in the 'free voice calling space' are looking for new ways to regain relevancy. I had a chance to chat with Scott Nelson, Head of Viber North America, who is looking to reposition Viber as a consumer lifestyle brand. Surrounding the brand with influencers is part of Viber's Public Chat feature which Scott sees as an intregral part of Viber's new lifestyle ecosystem.

Businesses need to spend the remainder of 2016 figuring out how to get smart fast about how message apps can provide a new hyper-sticky engagement platform as well as a new way to collaborate with customers, suppliers, and partners. 2017 will be here before we know it.

Beverly Macy is an author, speaker and educator. Her book, The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing is considered a classic in the space and she teaches The Global Business of Media, Entertainment & Sports at UCLA Anderson.