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December 18, 2014

Messaging Startup Do’s and Don’ts

Mark Hull Zula Summit

There’s messaging, then there is professional messaging. We all know that the two are to be handled differently in practice, but what about in the creation of the platforms themselves? Do the same rules apply? Mark Hull, Director of Product Management at LinkedIn discussed this in the 2014 Zula Summit.

Why do messaging startups typically face difficulty in gaining traction? At the core, it’s because they have difficulty in being taken seriously. That’s why many of them turn to LinkedIn- to create serious relationships with potential users. However, it doesn’t have to be hard for startups to gain the traction that they need.

How to Gain Traction

In general, people love messaging. These people want products that solve problems. That may sound obvious, yet there are many services that make registration more complicated than it has to be. Efforts made on the part of customers have to be minimal. Again, that sounds obvious, but many minimal concepts aren’t being followed. For example, apps have to be trustworthy, and potential customers have to be convinced that it is trustworthy. Messaging startups should also bear in mind that all networks are professional networks, from associations, alumni networks and everything in between. Each network is expected to be easily accessible through the product. Messaging apps also need basic security support. Companies that fire an employee should take comfort in knowing that the previous employee will no longer have access to information and ongoing conversations.

Targeting and Outreach

Many startups are quick to present their product to influencers for potential endorsements. What many fail to consider is that reputations are at stake when the influencer presents apps to people. Many startups don’t know who their markets are, and operate without clear targets. This explains why large scale adoption is very difficult. Sure, execs could tell their teams, “Please use this application for communication.” However, 5 days later it just won’t happen. To avoid that scenario, companies need to ask themselves how employees can enjoy using their app.

Messaging presents large opportunities, and there have been many great exits. The one common thread you would find in successful messaging platforms is that when businesses adopt the technology, they make it last. A lot of messaging apps have been created, but getting them to be used is the greatest challenge. Networks and teams fall back onto the apps they were previously using.

The Future of Marketing

In the future, messaging will cement its role in the workplace more firmly. It will be less of a novelty and more of a necessity. Users will demand trust and integrity, and there will be a greater distinction between formal and informal.

The big question is: is there a recipe for success for messaging apps? Yes- the ingredients have to be right. The app has to be simple, trustworthy, responsive, fast, secure, and it has to be fun. The bottom line is that it is social. People have to have social fun with their colleagues. The most successful apps will help people leverage their networks.


Watch the video below to learn more about messaging startup do’s and don’ts from Mark Hull.