A marketer’s guide to keeping up—and we’re not talking about the Kardashians.

Messaging apps are slated to take over the world! Well, not really. But the days of letters-by-owl are over (sorry, Harry Potter). Today we have messaging apps, where users around the world are logging in not only to chat with friends, but also to engage with content. And according to this article, they’re dominating email (among other things). These apps are where desirable young consumers are both chatting and shopping. In fact, they are used almost nine times a day—five times the average for all mobile apps, with a retention rate of 68% versus a low 38% for all other apps.

Chat

Why do we care about them?

Messaging apps are to marketers, what a pot of gold is to a leprechaun. And some brands are already mining the goods at the end of the rainbow because there are more active users on messaging apps monthly, than any social networking app.

dark-social

The top four messaging apps (out of thousands)—WhatsApp and Messenger (both owned by Facebook), WeChat, and Viber—have nearly 3 billion users, compared to only 2.5 billion users on all social apps combined. Facebook’s Messenger yields 900 million users alone.

This means there’s a huge opportunity for marketers to embrace the untapped, and possibly most engaged, audience of today (and tomorrow).

How exactly are brands using them?

They’re snapchatting dogs playing piano and evil cat videos! J/k. They’re using them as store fronts, for launching new video ad experiences, and for creating user-generated content. Air France KLM is integrating with Facebook’s Messenger to allow flyers to check in, receive flight status updates, and interact with customer service. Some brands are even creating their own apps.

F8

But things are about to get real, fast. Because Facebook announced this week a new bot store for Facebook’s Messenger. This will enable all businesses to build their own chat bots and allow users to connect with brands in entirely new ways. This, among many new efforts announced during Facebook’s F8 keynote, will change the way businesses interact with consumers and potentially cause a significant shift in eCommerce as we know it. Especially for owl-based economics. (sorry, again, Harry Potter.)