Hello, we are social. We’re a global conversation agency with offices in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney & São Paulo. We help brands to listen, understand and engage in conversations in social media.
We’re a new kind of agency, but conversations between people are nothing new. Neither is the idea that ‘markets are conversations’.

We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.

If you’d like to chat about us helping you too, then give us a call on (+1) 646-476-2893 or drop us an email.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #226

by Nick Mulligan in News

Facebook’s new ad unit is the event of the week
We hope you’re ready for a new Facebook ad unit. That’s right, event ads are no longer confined to the right hand bar on desktop – you can now see them in the News Feed and on mobile. They’re set to look similar to event invitations from a friend, and can be used not just for events but also time related promotions – for example, a discounted brunch invite. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a set of insights showing how many people have seen an event. We’re spoilt. Here’s how the ads will look:

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Facebook targets adverts by signal strength
Facebook ads can now be targeted based on the strength of a mobile signal. It’s a nice move, because it means if you can target data heavy ads, like video, to those on 4G and text posts to those on low bandwidth connections, especially useful in developing markets.

Twitter opens analytics to all
Twitter has made its analytics dashboard, launched in July, available to everybody on the network. Here’s how it looks if you’re as influential as I am:

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For others, it’s more like this:

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Google removes Authorship from search results
Once upon a time, you could link your Google+ profile to your site, and the authorship of your words would appear in Google search results, alongside a profile picture and G+ follower count. Those days are no more – after gradually reducing what showed up in results, Google has now removed Authorship from search results entirely. Forbes has speculated on what this means for the future of G+; one of the principal draws of an account has been its impact on search – if this goes, what remains of the platform? To this, it’s worth pointing out that the link between G+ and search isn’t completely broken. The search engine will continue to show G+ posts from friends and pages, when they’re relevant to your query.

Snapchat gets $10bn valuation, rolls out “Our Story”
It’s all go at casa del Snapchat. The startup has received another $20m of funding, leaving its valuation at a healthy $10bn. The investment is based on monthly active user figures of 100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The money is being pumped back into the app, too – the “Our Story” feature is being rolled out to everyone. Trialled in June this year, it allows users to create and view public collections of photos and videos from a specific event, be it Electric Daisy Carnival, as below, or something where Tiësto is nowhere to be seen.

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adidas creates Instagram game
adidas Polska has launched what it’s calling the world’s first Instagram game, in which fans have to follow a set of hidden clues to ‘like’ certain images in the correct order. The overall winner will bag themselves a pair of predator boots, with branded balls for runners up.

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Walkers turns bus stops into Twitter-powered vending machines
Walkers crisps (that’s chips, for our Stateside readers) is making three London bus stops into Twitter-powered vending machines for its ‘Do Us A Flavour’ campaign. Bystanders are encouraged to send a tweet to @Walkers_busstop in exchange for a packet of crisps. The team at Double Decker must be kicking themselves.

Everybody loves Hyperlapse
Hyperlapse is barely a week old and brands are already getting involved in a big way. Here are some examples from Bud Light, Burton Snowboard, Footlocker, Cosmopolitan and (everybody’s favourite) our London office.

The ice bucket challenge is quite popular
Not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s an ‘ice bucket challenge’ thing happening on Facebook right about now. It looks like it’s going to be the biggest online charity campaign ever, as our data in the Huffington Post shows. The hashtag #icebucketchallenge has received over 4.48m mentions, over 20 times the number seen by #nomakeupselfie. There have been over 2m videos on YouTube, too, including a number by brands. Below you can see the efforts by Old Spice and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

The 6Cs of Global Social Media

by Simon Kemp in News

More than 2 billion people around the world used social media in the past 30 days, and these numbers are still growing at an impressive rate:

We Are Social - Global Digital Stats 2014-08

This connected, vocal audience presents huge opportunities that marketers won’t want to miss, but social success requires a different approach in different countries and cultures around the world.

So how can marketers get global social ‘right’?

The answer lies in the 6Cs of Social.

1. Conversation
There are hundreds of different social networks around the world, all built around different needs, interests, and technological functions.

All these platforms have one thing in common, though: conversation.

Without conversation, social media aren’t social, and for brands in social, it’s the conversation that really matters.

Conversations enable brands to become more engaging, allowing them to evolve beyond a straightforward product or service.

But managing a ‘regional’ conversation in Asia poses a number of challenges.

In Asia-Pacific alone, people speak more than 2,000 languages.

Even if your audience understands English, they may not be comfortable – or happy – conversing in it.

When it comes to social conversations, people prefer to speak the language that best allows them to express themselves.

Even when they do speak the same language though, there are invariably many different ways of speaking it – from the nuances of everyday slang to our constantly evolving ‘social’ vocabularies (think ‘LOL’).

The key is to remember that successful communication isn’t determined by what you say; it’s determined by what other people understand.

Recommendation: spend some time listening to your audience’s conversations in social media, and adopt a style that makes it easy for them to converse with you.

2. Culture
Humans are a highly diverse bunch, and this diversity can add significant complexity to the process of developing a unified global approach.

Firstly, people follow a wide variety of religions, each of which may impact how a brand needs to behave in social media.

Marketers will need to keep track of myriad religious festivals and celebrations, while attitudes towards things such as alcohol, styles of dress, and even colours may vary dramatically from one culture to another.

Similarly, many Asian cultures are guided by the concept of 面子 – ‘face’ as it is commonly known in English – and as a result, they may exhibit less ‘social volume’ than their Western peers.

Consequently, it may be more difficult to achieve high levels of audience interaction, which can impact organic reach and engagement.

Recommendation: make sure that your content development teams and community managers truly understand the culture of the people you’re trying to engage.

3. Content Neutrality
Qzone and Facebook still command the greatest number of active social networking users in the world, but most social media users are active across multiple platforms:

We Are Social - Global Digital Stats 2014-08-27

China’s Tencent is responsible for 3 of the world’s top 5 most active social platforms – clear evidence that social media users adopt multiple channels at once.

Chat apps like WeChat (Weixin), Whatsapp, LINE and Kakaotalk have exploded in popularity in recent months, while platforms like Weibo, Twitter and Instagram continue to grow too:

We Are Social - Global Chat App Figures 2014-08-25

As a result, it’s important for brands to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.

Marketers need to create content that audiences will be able to transfer from one platform to the other, allowing people to continue the conversation on their own terms with their different networks.

This approach will also help to avoid relying too heavily on platform-specific audiences.

Social media users are quick to adopt new platforms, and marketers may find that the ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ they build in one platform quickly become irrelevant as audiences move on to the newest network or app.

Recommendation: build communities around passions, not audience on platforms.

4. Country Needs
What does your brand need to do in order to succeed?

It’s unlikely that the answer to this question will involve the same set of challenges and opportunities in each market, so you’ll need to develop an approach that can adapt to your varying local needs.

Much of this relates to the audience context in each market – for example, how much they know about the brand, or the specific place it holds and role it plays in the local landscape.

Do you need to educate people, or just reinforce what they already know? Can you already harness ‘cultural equity’ like community in-jokes or evocative imagery?

You’ll also need to adapt your content and conversational approach to your brand’s specific needs for things like new launches or environmental factors (e.g. product shortages).

Don’t forget that local legislation may have a significant impact on your activities too. Many countries have strict laws governing aspects such as product claims, competitions, or even whether certain products (e.g. alcohol) can be overtly marketed.

Recommendation: even if you’re aiming for a global or regional approach, ensure that it’s flexible enough that it can adapt to a variety of local needs.

5. Cellphones
Social media is increasingly a mobile-first experience. Almost 80% of Facebook’s users access the service via mobile devices, whilst almost all 438 million users of WeChat – China’s hottest social platform – are mobile-only.

This mobility presents some great opportunities for marketers, whether it’s connecting with people when they’re actually using a brand, when they’re at the point of sale, or when they’re out socialising with friends.

However, the mobile context differs considerably from one country to the next, and mobile diversity isn’t without its challenges.

Firstly, data connections remain slow across much of the developing world, with barely one-quarter of Asia’s 1.8 billion mobile users able to access 3G networks.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of Asia’s 4 billion active mobile connections are pre-paid (versus 27% in the US and 42% in the UK), meaning that the cost of mobile data – and therefore of mobile internet access – is still an important challenge.

As a result, marketers need to build carefully balanced content plans. High-definition video may deliver the ‘optimum experience’, but video streams or downloads will be too slow and too expensive for the average mobile user in countries like India or the Philippines, so be sure to incorporate simpler, static content too.

Slow connection speeds mean brands need to deliver immediate value too; if the audience has any doubts about the relevance or utility of a brand’s post, they will scroll straight past it before the content even has a chance to load.

Recommendation: make sure all your content is tailored for a mobile-dominated consumption experience.

6. Communities
If you do need to take a global or regional approach to social media, avoid categorising your audience by country.

Instead, look for the interests, motivations and attitudes that the people you want to engage have in common, and use these commonalities to define your audience.

People are drawn to others whom they feel affinity for, and when it comes to the borderless internet, this affinity is far more dependent on passion than it is on place.

Recommendation: define your audience around their shared motivations, not their nationality.

A version of this post first appeared in my column on The Marketing Society’s blog.

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Wimbledon: the world’s most social Major

by Andreas Plastiras in News

Marketing recently published this article by me about how Wimbledon has surpassed the US Open in social. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below:

The final Tennis Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, kicks off this week. Thousands of fans will enter Flushing Meadows each day eager to see the world’s best players at the top of their game.

The US Open 2013 saw a huge 713k fans attending – compare this to Wimbledon, which has a smaller capacity than its American counterpart, with 491k passing through the gates this year.

People enjoy communicating on social media from sporting events like tennis Majors, and sharing content related to a sport they’re passionate about. Add to this the ever-increasing use of social media on mobile, and it could be argued that social has revolutionised the way professional sport is watched, marketed and consumed, the world over.

So you’d perhaps expect that more fans in attendance equals more conversation on social media.

Not in this case. Last year, there were over 255k mentions of the official @usopen Twitter handle online during the 2013 tournament. This year, @wimbledon amassed a remarkable 2.8 million – more than 11 times higher than its US counterpart, despite the smaller crowd.

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One of the reasons for this disparity was the significantly increased social activity from Wimbledon this year in order to make it ‘the most social Wimbledon ever’. Wimbledon’s ‘Twitter Mirror’, that takes selfies of people in the queue was a big attraction, running alongside the tournament’s  #WelcomeBackAndy campaign. Here, all fans who directed a tweet to @Wimbledon with this hashtag received a digital picture of Murray winning Wimbledon 2013. This ensured @Wimbledon tweeted 2.6k times on the opening day alone – a great way of building hype early on.

The US Open has become more social in recent years, introducing its own Social Wall in 2013, a 50-by-8-foot screen to aggregate and display real-time internet comments from fans. This year the Wall will be extended from one to three screens but it still lacks the same innovative approach that we saw with Wimbledon’s owned social activity.

#WelcomeBackAndy showed how Murray’s 2013 success created a potential platform for @Wimbldeon to effectively leverage the success of its local star in 2013 – something the @usopen has not been able to do from the men’s side.

The last US men’s Grand Slam winner was Andy Roddick at the US Open in 2003, and it is telling that Roddick currently has more US-based twitter followers (1.2m) – despite retiring in 2012 – than any current US male player. The US is crying out for an up and coming, flashy player who will resonate with the younger online community.

However, the US does have one key asset that could be leveraged more effectively, in Serena Williams. Williams has won 17 Grand Slams and is on fine form coming into this year’s US Open as defending champion from the last two years. She also has an impressive 4.3m Twitter followers – a higher figure than both Murray and Roddick.

While Williams was last year’s most tweeted about player by @usopen, most of these tweets were about her matches. The organisers also have the opportunity to play on her flamboyant personality and status as a fashion icon – plus the fact she attracts a host of a-list celeb friends along to the tournament. While she can often divide opinion in the US, being more proactive in championing her when she’s on a high will help position the US Open as the tennis ‘show’ of the year.

However, it’s not all about homegrown stars. Wimbledon also does well to leverage conversation from global markets too. Just 21% of @wimbledon’s social conversation is generated from the domestic market, compared to 37% for @usopen.

Of course, the US Open starts at a disadvantage with games at less convenient times for European markets, particularly around its bright and atmospheric night matches. But it can make itself more relevant to markets outside the US by really using social media to play up the star qualities of the players, the crowd and the unique glitz and glamour of the event, in contrast to Wimbledon’s traditional image.

Given Wimbledon’s prestige and large social following  – the highest of the four Grand Slam Twitter profiles – it’s important to note that its outbound activity and volume of earned conversations are also far higher than all the Majors – Roland Garros and the Australian Open generate a similar level of conversation to the US Open.

While smashing Wimbledon in social may not be a realistic aim for 2014, the US Open has the opportunity to raise its game and firmly establish and build on its social presence.  By drawing on real-time conversation, star players from home and away, epic late night matches, tactical celebrations of player victories and by creating a sense of the passion, emotion and noise, the US Open has huge potential to make great strides in social this year.

We Are Social’s Tuesday Tweakup #20

by Hannah Jones in News

Chat Apps Continue to Grow
Yesterday, WhatsApp’s CEO Jan Koum tweeted that the service now had an impressive 600,000,000 monthly active users and is continuing to grow at an astounding pace – gaining more than 9 new users every second. Other chat apps such as WeChat, LINE, Kakaotalk, Tango and Viber also appear to be increasing monthly active users. For more information, you can read our blog post on the subject.

Facebook Cracks Down on “Click-Baiting”
Facebook is cracking down on “click-baiting” headlines. They’re the headlines that encourage people to ‘click to see more’, without giving away much information about what they will actually see. In an attempt to give users a better experience on the platform, Facebook will weed out these stories that many feel are clogging up their News Feed.

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There was also an interesting second update from the platform, regarding sharing links in posts. Facebook announced yesterday that links that are shared by inserting them in the caption of a photo won’t do as well as those displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post).

Facebook Relaxes News Feed Ad Frequency Limits
Facebook has adjusted its advertising policy to show ads more frequently in the News Feed. a spokesperson from Facebook explains:

We will not show more ads; rather, we are updating the spacing between ads, and relaxing some of the parameters around insertions of ads from the same advertiser.

Now, users may see the same ad twice a day; previously, the limit was one. Similarly, two News Feed ads may be served daily to users who haven’t liked the Facebook Page of the brand in question (again, up from one previously). The aspect that remains seemingly unchanged is the daily limit of four News Feed ads that can be shown to people who have liked a Page.

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Instagram introduces Hyperlapse
Today, Instagram unveiled Hyperlapse, one of the company’s first apps outside of the platform itself. This all-new standalone app allows the creation of stabilised moving time-lapse videos. The app prompts you to record a video, after which it uses clever algorithm mapping and creates an ultra-smooth, floating-through-space type effect. The idea is to imitate not only the popular hyperlapse videos created using DSLRs and thousands of still frames, but also the cinematic motion tracking shots that appear in movies like Goodfellas and Kill Bill.

Instagram Starts Offering Essential Ad Tools
Instagram, the Facebook owned photo sharing platform, has finally made itself more ad-friendly by rolling out a suite of analytics tools. These are aimed at brands and offer various insights and analytics, including reach, impressions, engagement and the performance of paid ad campaigns.

Twitter expands its advertising network in Europe 
In a move to boost its international revenue, Twitter is expanding its advertising network across Europe in 12 new countries. All in all, Twitter Ads will now be available in 35 EMEA markets through direct sales support teams and reseller partnerships.

Vine Finally Lets You Import Videos From Your Phone
Last week, the six-second video-sharing service Vine was updated to allow users to upload existing videos onto the platform; granting the wishes of many, especially marketers. The move should encourage people to use the platform more often – the absence of this feature, until now, has resulted in some users opting for Instagram instead. In addition to video import, the Vine app will also let you edit the imported video, though only on iOS versions for now.

SlideShare Axes Its Freemium Model
SlideShare, the presentation-sharing platform with 60 million users owned by LinkedIn, announced last week that it is making its PRO level features, such as analytics, free, but claims there will be no update on advertising for now.

Pinterest’s new News feature
Pinterest has updated its mobile notifications section with a new feature, “News”. This new tab gives you a snapshot of what’s up with your Facebook friends and all the different Pinners or boards you follow. You can now learn about latest projects people are collecting Pins for, or interesting brands they are following. The one thing you won’t see are Pins that people save to their secret boards – after all, they have to keep some element of mystery, don’t they?

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Pinterest Launches A New Analytics Dashboard
Pinterest has also launched a new analytics dashboard that gives business users more insight into their Pinterest account, providing potential advertisers with a glimpse of their mobile and audience analytics for the first time. It tracks impressions, clicks, repins, and likes. Essentially, the dashboard is designed to provide a quick view into a business’ overall reach on Pinterest, and help those brands better understand how fans are interacting with their content.

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News and Ads to Debut on Snapchat
Snapchat might expand its service to videos, news articles and ads. A new service called Snapchat Discovery which would show content and ads to Snapchat users, has been discussed with various media companies. Set to debut in November, this could be an interesting move for the startup, whose 27 million users worldwide are used to an ad-free platform – but the offering could provide Snapchat’s first revenue and demonstrate its potential value to investors.

Funny or Die Reveals 10 Percent of Its Kik Fans Click on Video Messages
Will Ferrell’s comedy video website, Funny or Die, is among a handful of brands testing Kik Messenger’s new Promoted Chats product which enables marketers to promote their accounts, accumulate contacts and connect with them; it has been dubbed “chatvertising”.  The digital comedy crew has seen a 10 percent click rate, quite remarkable considering on average they achieve around 0.5 percent on similar Facebook and Twitter posts.

Gap Runs First Social Campaign for Kids’ Accounts
Gap Kids is continuing to use UGC to drive awareness of the brand. The “Gap Kids Class of 2014” campaign – the latest round in its Casting Call programme - encourages parents to upload three photos of their child in back-to-school clothing via either Instagram, Facebook, a desktop or mobile phone for next year’s campaign. After submitting their photos, they are emailed a 15-second imitation Gap commercial for sharing via social media. Those fortunate enough to triumph will be whisked off to New York, London or Tokyo for a photo-shoot in preparation for the retailer’s 2015 window displays.

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PacSun, StyleHaul Partner in Back-to-School YouTube Campaign
In a similar back-to-school move, StyleHaul – an online community of 150 million YouTube subscribers dedicated to women’s fashion and beauty – is set to take centre stage in PacSun’s latest campaign. With  more than 3.5 million subscribers between them, beauty and fashion experts BeyondBeautyStar, Macbby11, MyLifeAsEva and MamaMiaMakeup will encourage viewers to submit their own brand and style ideas around PacSun’s Bullhead Denim range. Gary Schoenfeld, president and CEO of PacSun, discussed the company’s decision to embrace the YouTube strategy:

We know that YouTube stars have influential power with their fans—even more so than celebrities, in some cases—so for us, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase PacSun and its product in a new way.

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Uncle Ben’s launch YouTube cooking show
As part of a campaign to encourage parents to cook with their children, the Mars food brand Uncle Ben’s has created a YouTube cooking channel. A campaign called “Ben’s Beginners” launches today, in an attempt to get kids cooking. Going forward, there will be weekly YouTube shows to demonstrate to kids how to cook meals using the brand’s products. Celebrity chef Lisa Faulkner will also front a cooking competition with a prize of £10,000 worth of cooking equipment for the winner’s school kitchen.

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Newcastle Brown Ale asks consumers to send in ‘mediocre’ photos for ads
The latest campaign by Newcastle Brown Ale pokes fun at user generated content. The alcohol brand has created a social media-driven campaign inviting people to send in rubbish photos of themselves and embrace their mediocrity. The video for the campaign boasts “We can turn any photo, no matter how boring, into an ad to sell Newcastle”.

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People are asked to post their “mediocre photos” on social media using the hashtag #NewcastleAdAid, and the brand tells them, “if you’re lucky, we’ll exploit your photo.” The campaign is a clear gibe at rival beer brands’ use of selfies and customer photos (Miller Lite recently launched a campaign using just those, collected from its #itsmillertime campaign).

Now you can Customise a Car in a Tweet
Acura may have accomplished a real Twitter first: the ability to customise a car in your Twitter Feed. That’s right, Acura is trumpeting the launch of the 2015 TLX performance luxury sedan by letting you create a customised car, within the platform. The tweet uses the revamped version of the new Twitter cards, which now let you add photos, videos or other media in the card itself.

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Compare The Market trials Facebook Premium Video advertising
Comparethemarket.com has become the first UK brand to trial Facebook’s recently launched Premium Video ad format. The new format works by playing automatically on a users feed and only plays sound when clicked, much like the current embedded function. The advertiser has paid to reach 5.6 million of Facebook’s 26 million UK daily active users within a 24-hour period, with a bespoke video featuring the brand’s much loved meerkat characters. Initial results have not been shared but stay tuned for performance updates.

UK baker Greggs saves Logo Blunder on Social 
Greggs engaged in some top social media banter last week after it emerged that Google had been fooled into displaying a rather offensive spoof logo instead of Greggs’ own. The baker handled the crisis in style on Twitter, responding to critics, making a cheeky public appeal to Google for help, and introducing the hashtag #FixGreggs.

Facebook Launches ‘Mentions Box’ Device During Emmys
The Emmys took place this weekend, and Facebook debuted the Facebook Mentions Box, an interactive device that stars could wield to answer questions from fans. It’s similar to the InstaStop Video Q&A Station that Instagram launched at the Golden Globes in January.

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Brands out in Real-Time Force at the Emmys
And of course, brands jumped on the real-time marketing bandwagon that accompanies any major event these days. The real-time winners included Netflix, which embraced presenter Jimmy Kimmel’s mocking of Ricky Gervais’ ‘Netflix face’ with one of the best tweets of the evening.

However, it wasn’t all good. Mercedez Benz showed a lack of understanding of the ‘real time’ concept with this unimaginative tweet sent a full four days before the event.

Puma’s Twitter Hashtag Campaign Just Went Very Wrong 
Puma was caught out in spectacular fashion when Twitter pranksters hijacked their campaign. Whilst trying promoting ‘Forever Faster’, Puma asked fans to tweet their favourite Puma-wearing player to get a personalised “autograph” Twitter card. As you’d expect, things all went terribly wrong when rival fans changed their Twitter names to resemble some not so nice phrases to accompany Puma’s messages, which were tweeted back to the user. Here are some (of the tamest!) examples…

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Chat Apps Continue Growth

by Simon Kemp in News

We Are Social - Global Chat App Figures 2014-08-25

Jon Russell just alerted us to a tweet from WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum that reveals the service’s latest active user numbers – and an impressive new milestone:

For context, WhatsApp only just passed the 500 million mark back in April, which means the service is currently growing by an astonishing 800,000 new active users every day – that’s more than 9 every second.

WeChat continues to impress too, with 438 million users, the majority of whom are still in China.

LINE and Kakaotalk also appear to be growing, although neither service reports monthly active user numbers, so direct comparisons are tricky.

Similarly, Jon reports that Tango now has 70 million active users, while Viber – another favourite in APAC – has around 100 million active users.

Keep your eye on those numbers though – after last week’s update, we’re probably going to need to update our Chat App Users infographic again…

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