Over The Top: A Look at Mobile Messaging Apps

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What You’ll Learn:: 

Last year the Next Big Thing was mobile. This year it’s OTT mobile messaging apps.

Don’t have a clue what that means?

OTT mobile messaging apps will most likely take up a big chunk of your internal comms workday within a very few years.

“OTT” stands for “Over The Top.” Over the top of what? you ask. Well, over the top of the national wireless networks controlled by Verizon, AT&T, and other behemoths. In fact, OTT companies actually go outside these commercial networks to use the broadband wireless capacity of the Internet. They don’t use the microwave-tower infrastructures owned by the big boys.

Every time your sullen teenager sends a text message over one of these commercial wireless networks, you pay. And many parents pay tens of thousands of these charges every year.

Mobile messaging apps are different. Mobile messaging apps use the Internet. Why is this important? Because text messages sent over mobile messaging apps cost next to nothing, or are free.

Free text messaging holds enormous implications for internal communicators. And these revolutionary implications are the subject of Shel Holtz’s latest interactive course, “Over The Top: A Look at Mobile Messaging Apps.”

The consequences of the shift from texting over smartphones and feature phones to using apps on mobile Internet devices may be even more radical and far-reaching for corporate marketing and PR, Holtz says.

Most of the individual personal networks served by mobile messaging app Internet companies around the world don’t approach the size of the 100-, 200- or 500-person networks common on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other popular social networks.

The networks of the billion users of OTT mobile messaging apps are much smaller than a Facebook network of friends. They comprise only intimate friends and family of the user.

Younger people have turned away from the fatigue and stress of keeping up with the lives of 100 + “friends” on Facebook, says Holtz. They want the intimacy of a much smaller network like  WeChat or Kiku.

Holtz sees this trend as the future of corporate communications. Employees already use their own mobile devices at work; now they’ll use them to solve pressing but smaller-scale problems at work with one text message.

They’ll download the OTT mobile messaging app and voilà, they’re connected to thirty or forty colleagues they can text anytime about work. No more worry about “Is this appropriate for my Facebook page?”

Shel discusses how internal communicators will reach these smaller groups with important corporate messages about new initiatives, re-branding, values, changed mission statements, and the like.

Communicators rely on social channels to engage customers. Shel insists you must start thinking about how you’ll engage with the hundreds and thousands of smaller groups of customer followers who have switched from Facebook to OTT mobile messaging apps.

Holtz squarely raises an issue you will address in the next year or two: How do I reach employees split into dozens or even hundreds of mobile messaging apps texting networks?

And he offers solutions from companies that have adapted to OTT app networks: Holtz shows you how Nike, Starbucks and Cadillac changed their marketing to appeal to smaller social networks served by the OTT-app company WeChat.

Shel talks about the Starbucks campaign that let WeChat users send emoticons to them in return for a music track embodying the emotion behind the sent emoticon. Another great example: Cadillac sent weather and road-condition updates on Route 66 to WeChat users who signed up.

Holtz wants you to think about how your company will connect with customers who use an OTT app but who don’t want brand ads on their OTT app’s service.

He’ll give you two easy-to-use solutions you can apply right now.

You’ll learn:

  • Three features of some OTT mobile messaging apps that all internal communicators should look into right away.
  • How to increase the size of your employee networks on OTT mobile messaging apps.
  • The threat mobile messaging apps poses to Facebook—six ways OTT apps will eat away at Facebook’s dominance of social networks

End your immobility and learn about OTT apps right here.

Updated: 
December 2014
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Presenter bio: 

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, which has counseled companies about online communications since 1996. He brings 35 years in organizational communication to his clients. A regular speaker at conferences and corporate events, Holtz is the author or co-author of six communications-focused books. He has blogged since 2004 and co-hosts the first and longest-running communications podcast, For Immediate Release, which debuted in January 2005.