TechBytes with Cristina Constandache, Chief Revenue Officer at Rakuten Viber

TechBytes with Cristina Constandache, Chief Revenue Officer at Rakuten Viber

With Instagram testing “hiding” like counts in the U.S., what alternative approaches can businesses take to engage their customers?

Obviously, with Instagram testing the removal of liking a photo, businesses must find new and innovative ways to engage with their customers. Brands can no longer rely on a high number of “like counts” to draw in more engagement. Rather, the best approach is to shift their focus to two-way engagements, digitally communicating in a conversational manner. This approach can seamlessly be executed on messaging apps because they’re naturally communicative and allow brands direct interaction with customers one-on-one.

What opportunity does this create for how brands interact with customers?

Let’s look at this with a “glass-half-full” lens—sure the social media landscape is a mess, but this disruption also creates new opportunities. Brands have been putting a much larger emphasis on reinforcing their purpose and mission in their Marketing and Messaging, so they can use this chance to build more meaningful relationships with each customer.

Outbound platforms like Instagram allow brands to speak to the masses, but inbound platforms like messaging apps allow brands to improve customer relationships that focus on the quality of the engagement versus the quantity.

Do you see this as a positive or negative for brands in their Engagement and Marketing efforts?

The initial reaction will likely be a negative one, but “likes” were an ineffective yet easy way to measure and deliver results—is a “like” really engagement? Or is it just someone thoughtlessly clicking on the “like” button without even glancing at your post? How can you measure real engagement from that?

However, I think that brands who choose to look at this shift as a way to re-engage their customers in an authentic way, will be the ones who separate themselves from the competition in 2020. One distinct positive that can come from this is that marketers will have the chance to target a new set of current and potential customers that already exist on other platforms like messaging apps.

Other than Instagram, what are the other social media and content sharing platforms doing to grow brand image?

Different platforms offer different benefits for brands in their efforts to grow their image and gain recognition. Unlike more traditional Outbound Marketing platforms like Instagram, Twitter, etc. Brands can leverage messaging apps to create more genuine connections with customers, helping to grow their brand image in a positive direction.

How does Rakuten Viber create a balance between branded content and user-generated content?

Rakuten Viber’s main purpose is messaging and calling. The principal reason people use the app is to connect with loved ones whenever and wherever they are in the world, so that in and of itself creates a platform focused on consumers first. To balance that with branded content, we have an ads-lite policy, meaning we offer a limited number of native ad units in places that are not obtrusive to the user or user experience. This ensures users are never deluged by advertising like they are on the web.

We also offer brands the ability to connect in a two-way chat for convenient activities like banking, shopping, travel and shipping notifications, which allows consumers to easily and conveniently respond.  Since consumers spend the majority of their time on mobile, brands that work with us are investing in the future of customer relationships today.

Tell us how Marketers can create a better brand ecosystem with verified content and news sources.

We live in both the “fake news” and “privacy concern” eras which makes it that much more important for marketers to design an experience for customers that is authentic and trustworthy. Marketers can create a better brand ecosystem by delivering materials that help customers to understand why the brand exists and what it stands for.

Part of creating a better brand ecosystem is conveying the message to customers that a brand is privacy-conscious. This will help brands to create solid relationships that keep customers coming back for more.

Cristina Constandache is the Chief Revenue Officer at Rakuten Viber.

As Chief Revenue Officer at Viber, Cristina Constandache directs, defines and leads all global revenue-generating activities to ensure its success for global partnerships and advertising on Viber for our 1B+ users. Always at the intersection of apps, advertising and technology, Cristina draws on more than 10
years of experience in global media sales with a proven track record in advertising, business development and client services on the international stage.

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Rakuten Viber is part of Rakuten Inc., a world leader in e-commerce and financial services. It is the official communication channel of FC Barcelona, and the official instant messaging and calling app partner of the Golden State Warriors.

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