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Social media and wearables an emerging engagement opportunity

As wearables and emojis both continue to gain traction, marketers may have an opportunity to tap social media as a key communication channel for connecting with target audiences. 

Smartwatches? slow evolution has seen the wearables transform from a bite-sized version of a smartphone to a potent marketing device, one that will likely be the recipient of a wave of branded content in 2016. Mobile messaging platforms, such as Snaps, are already preparing to help bridge the gap between consumers and brands via emojis, suggesting that the ideograms will become more popular than ever.

?We're in the process of developing a few ?wearmoji? concepts with partners,? said Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps, New York. ?We're working a select group of our luxury brand partners to help define what this will look like and when we should roll it out.

?We've sandboxed tech that will translate user finger sketches into branded emoji on a watch. For consumers who have downloaded some of our keyboards, we will allow them to send their branded emoji from their watch.?

Marketing on wearables
Introducing branded emojis for smartwatch wearers will likely be the first in a multi-step process of marketing on wearable devices.

Emojis are the new universal jargon among younger consumers, although brands must be able to seamlessly insert the trend into advertising tactics without creating an overly sponsored image (see story).

Marketers may find significant value in creating ?wearmojis? that consumers can share with friends via social media networks. The non-intrusive nature of emojis offers playful and engaging ways of enticing users to download a new keyboard set and relinquish some of their prime personal device real estate.

For example, Dove recently launched a keyboard app that allows users to send various emoji icons featuring women with all styles and color of hair as well as various skin tones, promoting greater diversity in mobile (see story). If luxury brands can hop on this bandwagon and develop relevant emoticons that smartwatch wearers can access with one tap of a finger, they may experience greater audience outreach.

Snaps? latest venture, a Web application called Conversations, gives individuals the ability to send branded stickers, emojis, GIFs and videos to friends within messaging apps. If these types of capabilities become optimized for wearables, the devices could cement their status as must-have advertising channels this year.

However, brands will need to get more creative in targeting efforts, as wearables? small screen sizes require concise content.

?We're primarily focused on helping brands create brand marketing experiences in messaging apps,? Mr. Brucculeri said. ?Our Conversations product will likely not be where customer care conversations take place, but we hope to be the go-forward solution for creative brand executions in messaging across platforms.?

Messenger?s potential role
As Facebook Messenger continues to dominate the mobile messaging sector, alongside several other competitors including WeChat and WhatsApp, brands interested in marketing on wearables would be well-suited to keep a close eye on the app?s future initiatives.

A growing number of brands are teaming up with Facebook Messenger after realizing its potential as a communication channel for offering customer service and building personal relationships with mobile users (see story).

?Uber has partnered with Facebook Messenger to help consumers book rides,? said Shuli Lowy, director of mobile and social media marketing at Ping Mobile, New York. ?Facebook has also rolled out payment capabilities so that friends can pay each other through Messenger.

?Partnering with Facebook to provide additional services to Messenger users is a great way to get visibility and traction with that valuable audience.?

If Facebook begins to introduce similar features for smartwatch users, marketers will likely be clamoring to secure partnerships as a means of leveraging social media to fuel brand awareness.

Being an early adopter in this space is key, as first-entry features will set the tone for later rollouts.

?It?s far easier to gain traction when you?re an early adopter than when you wait to follow the flock,? Ms. Lowy said. ?As we saw with smartphone apps, the companies that were early to build an app and promote it were able to build up a larger and stronger audience base at a fraction of the price.

?Since then, the landscape has become far more competitive and driving app downloads is no small task,? she said. ?Companies that are building smartwatch apps now are also more likely to get featured by the app stores because there aren?t as many apps available.

?Being an early adopter also positions a brand as forward-thinking. Consumers appreciate a company that evolves to modern day technology.?