Line?s marketing potential lies in fun, youth-focused engagements
Messaging and social entertainment app Line is beginning to gain with marketers following efforts from the likes of Disney and Maybelline, reflecting how brands are looking to engage with young mobile users in a fun way.
Line, which is the top messaging app in Japan and is gaining steam globally, is reportedly planning an initial public offering in the United States and Tokyo this fall, which could pave the way for a much bigger role going forward. The key benefits for marketers appear to be the app?s custom stickers, a young, loyal user base, a fun atmosphere and the chance to be one of the first marketers here.
?Line has a niche user base - the fun and expressive,? said Danielle McCormick, senior director of marketing at Skava www.skava.com. ?It hasn't become too crowded yet so brands that become early adopters can quickly gather a large following.
?Brands need to immerse themselves in the app and become familiar with its unique culture and community to see where the marketing opportunities lie,? she said.
?A large part of Line is the collecting and sharing of stickers. This is their currency so marketers can tap into this currency. Consumers are able to send direct messages to the brands and the brands can prepare ready made answers.?
There is significant interest in messaging apps following Facebook?s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp earlier this year.
A number of different offerings are available, including SnapChat, WeChat and Viber.
Like these, Line offers free voice calls, instant text messaging and social networking.
Where Line stands apart is with gaming features and a built-in camera app with filters. It also features cartoon characters and stickers that can be used to personalize messages and photos.
While most of the content is free, Line charges for premium stickers.
Disney recently expanded globally a mobile puzzle game app that was published with Line. Disney Tsum Tsum has been downloaded more than 14 million times (see story).
Late last year, L?Oreal?s Maybelline brand launched limited-time flash sales of exclusive products in Thailand working with Line (see story).
One of the ways for brands to leverage Line that may have the most potential is to take advantage of the app?s built-in camera and the numerous features around editing photos.
?Line Camera, with its photo post production functionality - such as slimming and retouching features that even the best paid tools like Camera Plus and Visco don't offer - as well as custom stickers provides is a better entryway for brand marketers than the Line messaging platform which is more practical and consistent with What's App and Skype,? said Leslie Hall, president of Iced Media, New York.
Stickers are another way brands can take advantage of Line.
?Line's stickers are a natural way for brand marketers to participate in a way that is consistent with user adoption,? Ms. Hall said. ?Custom stickers for brands that have high affinity among young audiences will be able to capture those users in a more meaningful way.?
Still, with a reported 450 million users worldwide, Line?s user base is still relatively small compared to other popular messaging apps such as SnapChat and WhatsApp.
However, its positioning makes it very popular with younger consumers, a demographic that is reportedly losing interest in Facebook.
?Line has a very unique brand identity and a very loyal young following,? Skava?s Ms. McCormick said. ?If you are trying to market to a young demographic then having a presence on Line will definitely help increase your brand awareness among the demographic.
?Many younger kids are moving away from Facebook - where their parents now have accounts - to newer social media outlets such as Instagram and Line where they feel they have more expressive freedom,? she said.
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York