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The rapid rise of Chat Apps over the past few years is often attributed to its appeal to its youthful appeal. Rather than consolidating all of their community dialogs on one network like Facebook, today’s audiences seek a more decentralized and private social network. The growth of chat apps like Facebook’s Messenger/WhatsApp, WeChat (China), LINE (Japan), Kik and Snapchat took mobile IM to a new level. Its growth surpassed that of social networks and users benefited from: • A text messaging alternative superior to SMS • Social networking elements more conveniently activated. • Privacy more secured than that of communities served by Facebook, Instragram and Twitter (e.g., ephemeral content on Snapchat that quickly erasesregreted postings) Evidence of the growing popularity of chat apps can be seen in the numbers. Just consider the following: • 4 of the top 6 social networks (worldwide) are chat apps • Visual content shared on WhatsApp and Snapchat exceeds that shared on Facebook and its affiliate, Instagram • More users on now more monthly active on WhatsApp and WeChat than on Google+, Instragram, LinkedIn and Twitter combined • Facebook paid $18 billion for WhatsApp and offered Snapchat $3 billion (now valued at $10B+) In part because of its growing popularity among Millennials and Gen Z, brands find these apps especially appealing because of their one-to-one direct messaging. Using push notifications, these apps essentially allow the build of proprietary audiences much like that of an email list. But the key to introducing marketing messages is to join rather than disrupt conversations. And to do this in a “no ads allowed” setting like that of WhatsApp becomes very challenging. Some progress has been made in brand involvement, however, with non-US apps. China’s WeChat and Japan’s LINE allow brands to promote their offerings through games, digital stickers and even online shopping. ASSIGNMENT: From the blog posts parked in Pinterest (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.@ http://bit.ly/1yQE0vS, discuss why many are claiming that chat apps will completely transform social media or even replace social networking over time. Include the following in your arguments. 1. What do mobile IM/chat apps offer beyond that provided by social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Goolge+ and LinkedIn? 2. Given the private conversational nature of these apps, is it feasible to assume that brands could jump in with their own messaging? 3. What might Facebook’s ownership of WhatsApp do to transform chat ups into a more robust social network? 4. What can we learn from Asian apps like WeChat and LINE that will accelerate the usefulness of chat apps to brands trying to reach audiences through their app conversations?