By Honey Comer
Venmo, the wildly popular mobile money-transfer app, was founded in 2009 as a way for individuals to easily split payments with friends via text. Its success has been meteoric, with some sources reporting more than $1 billion in payments processed through the app this year alone. What is perhaps most interesting about Venmo, though, is that the seemingly functional app has morphed into what can almost be considered a new social network.
If marked as “public”, payments to and from friends will appear in a newsfeed that all other contacts can see. Friends also have the option to like and comment on these public payments. While dollar amounts are never revealed, users have embraced creative ways of describing the “what” of their payments. Cryptic emoji combinations and inside jokes fill most feeds, making it an interesting case study in social media behavior, to say the least.
Today, the platform strictly forbids direct payment for goods, virtually barring brands from venturing into using it. Nonetheless, there are a few lessons marketers can learn from the Venmo community:
Everything is a Shareable Moment
Millennials and Gen Z make up the majority of Venmo users, and they represent a wave of consumers who have perfected the art of the overshare. As everyday events become plot points in a digital story, audiences are more relaxed than ever about sharing authentically and in the moment. While highly curated platforms like Facebook and Instagram showcase the best of your personal brand, the Venmo’s and Snapchats of the world offer a casual and lower-commitment glimpse into daily life.
As users become more accustomed to sharing every moment, ask yourself how your brand can become a compelling prop in the story your customer is looking to tell about his or her everyday experience.
By now, most of us know that mobile is where customers are spending the bulk of their time, but Venmo user behavior offers some additional perspective. It’s important to think about not only where your audience is but also why.
In this example, we can glean that convenience and instant gratification have become paramount to all, landing above serious issues like fear of account security. As time advances, people are increasingly losing patience for anything that takes a second of extra time – which means user experience is more important than ever.
In-platform tools like shoppable social will ensure that your brand is a welcome opportunity to add value to the daily experience and not an interruption or nuisance.
Finally, visual language is on the rise. While I could easily write “dinner” to note a Venmo transaction, I will likely spend 5-6 minutes searching for the right emoji combination to say the same thing instead. Think about employing this same image-based storytelling style to unlock your fans imagination and communicate with them in the same way their friends do.
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