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We talk a lot about social media. But do you know what’s even bigger than social networks?

Messaging apps.

Today, the top four messaging apps have more monthly active users (MAUs) than the top four social networking apps, reports Business Insider.

If you look at Facebook’s behavior, it’s clear that even the largest social media network in the world would agree that there is significant value in private messaging. Since 2014, Facebook has spent $19 billion acquiring Whatsapp and growing Messenger to a platform with 900 million global users.

Dark Social Drives Online Referral Traffic
One-to-one communications are rapidly overtaking the public nature of social media. Surprisingly, “dark social” (which refers to email, private browsing, and messaging apps like Messenger, Kik, and Whatsapp) accounts for the vast majority of online referral traffic worldwide. In North America, dark social accounts for 59% of online referrals, while Facebook accounts for 31%, and all other social networks provide the other 10%.

Users, Brands & Messaging Apps
A new infographic created by Dallas-based marketing group Epsilon and published on AdWeek looks into how users think about messaging apps, especially as they relate to brands.

  1. 75% of boomers are interested in making purchases via Facebook Messenger using PayPal. 84% of Millennials feel the same way.
    Takeaway: Messaging apps are about so much more than communication. Users desire functionality that integrates with the rest of their life.
  2. Users are open to receiving advertising and promotions via Facebook Messenger. The most desired form of communication? Coupons upon entering specific stores. The least desired? Notifications about happy hour specials.
    Takeaway: Users want something they can use now–not a sales pitch for a product/service they aren’t currently interested in.

See the full infographic below for more insights.

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How Can Your Brand Use Direct Messaging?
It’s easy to use automatic direct messaging on Twitter to message your new followers. However, language is very important here to avoid coming off like a spammer. Other opportunities include…

  • Inviting influencers to a private chat or online event, and enabling them to publicly share the experience after the fact with their followers.
  • Delivering notifications and messages to your customers through Messenger.
  • Sending direct invites and offers through Snapchat’s chat feature.

Does your brand currently use direct messaging?