For all its focus on finding new revenue streams, Facebook is concentrating on mobile and ensuring that it’s still relevant when its users migrate there for good.
After testing out sponsored stories, app downloads, offers, and promoting your posts for a price, it’s always looking at different ways to increase revenue. With the aim to make mobile just as profitable as desktop, if not more, Facebook has a number of options to experiment with, Instagram being the obvious one, but none that has more potential than its latest app: Poke.
The basis for this lies with the very app Poke is based upon: Snapchat. If you’ve been following the latest marketing trends, you would have heard about a campaign based upon this app a few days ago.
For those who haven’t, the brand in question was the frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles, which is based in New York. It’s running a campaign where customers would visit a store, snap a picture of themselves or their friends tasting any of their flavours and send it to the brand’s account.
Once it gets the picture, it would send you a coupon to use the next time you visit. However, since content shared on Snapchat has a short lifespan, the coupon would self-destruct within 10 seconds of viewing it. The only way you could claim it was to open it when you were at the cashier and present the coupon.
The clever thing about this is because of the self-destructive nature of the app, the user has no idea what he/she will receive unless they visit the store and claim it. This gives the campaign an element of surprise, which would make the customer more inclined to try it out.
Marketers are always looking for the next big thing, and this campaign gives a glimpse into the massive potential both Snapchat and Poke hold. Poke, however, has all of Facebook’s data to play around with and this gives it a significant advantage.
Improving It For Brands
As the release of Poke proved, Facebook isn’t above and beyond copying ideas if it benefits the company in the long-run. Its large size is the reason why only it, Google and Apple can try out so many different things without it negatively impacting on the entire business. They’re big enough to take risks and if they fail, they can just forget about it and move onto the next project.
In the case of Poke, it was taking an existing, but now rarely used feature, and adapting it for a mobile audience. Apparently, it took Facebook’s developers twelve days to put the app together, and despite the obvious copy, the major thing that Facebook has is almost half a billion active mobile users, most of whom won’t care about where the idea came from. Also, any poke messages can be sent to non-poke app users, prompting them to download the app. This latter detail is vital as it lends itself to some massive marketing opportunities.
Currently, Facebook poke only allows you to send messages to 40 people max so the first and obvious move would be to increase this limit for brands for a small fee. If you add targeting features to the mix, the possibility of this becoming a major revenue stream for the company is massive. It could be the very thing that will jumpstart Facebook offers, which has fallen out of favour as of late.
There are two problems separating Poke from financial success. The first is that is no matter how hard you try, you can’t make this happen unless there are enough active users. There needs to be demand and no amount of forcing will convince people to use it – just look at the resistance placed on Google+ when it incorporated Gmail and YouTube as official usage.
The other problem is that with the release of Poke, Snapchat saw a rise in downloads because of the publicity surrounding it and Poke. Since Snapchat built up its user base over a longer period of time, the chances of it retaining them is rather high. The fact that it has a young userbase, processes around 25 images every second and has users sending 20 million snaps per day suggests it has a dedicated audience.
Poke went through a period of rapid growth – thanks to it being promoted within the main Facebook app – before falling just as fast, sinking from the no. 1 downloaded app to 70th. Snapchat is ranked 4th among free apps. As the below screenshot from AppData shows, Poke’s drop over the last two weeks was pretty steep.
While Snapchat has been largely unaffected:
This is the first thing Facebook will need to work on before it can properly consider it as a source of revenue. If it can ensure that it has a significant number of daily active users, then it will be a no-brainer for brands to get involved.
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