Will LINE be the Next Social Media Giant?

LINE has their eyes set on a bigger picture: a complete social network.

After its recent update, LINE has decided to join in the Stories bandwagon. Marketers suspected this bold move as a strong indicator of the company’s ambition to overtake Facebook and Instagram as the next big thing in social media. A nod to the importance of messaging app in the future of marketing aside, considering the ever-changing nature of social media trend, is LINE’s strategy coming a little too late?

Source: thedrum.com

More than just Stickers and Texts

LINE’s popularity dated back since 2011 thanks to the rising popularity of mobile phones and the shift of digital consumerism. As more people become more dependent on the internet, the way people communicate to each other also changed. Soon, traditional landline was replaced by the convenient and relatively low-cost messaging apps. LINE is one of the pioneers that tapped into the market and it was a refreshing welcome to the new generation of modern customers.

Over the years, LINE transformed itself from a mere messaging app into a complete digital ecosystem. From news, digital wallet, even music streaming and video, LINE has slowly become an integrated social media platform that provide various types of online services to cater to the current trendsetting ‘on-the-go’ and ‘on-demand’ lifestyles. With the company’s latest introduction of Stories feature, LINE obviously has their eyes set on a bigger picture: a complete social network.

The only question remains now is: can LINE overtake Facebook’s domination in the war of social media network?

Source: LINE

Looking at LINE’s current market position, there are basically two major obstacles that could hinder their plan to be the next social media tycoon.

Brand image

When people think of social network, unsurprisingly, the first thing that came to their mind is Facebook. The transformative network is always controversial, however, no one could ever deny its position as the largest social network on Earth. Unlike Facebook, ultimately, LINE is better known as a communication app first and foremost. As such, LINE’s attempt to change that perception in the mind of its users could be proven as a more challenging task. Revamping the company’s brand image while instilling new values to customers have the potential of being seen as an unnecessary disruption.

Change of lifestyle

What makes Facebook the biggest social network globally? The users. With 2.38 billion active users daily (as of 2019, according to Statista), Facebook becomes the first ever social network that surpassed 1 billion users. Compare to that number, LINE’s mere 203 million users worldwide falls a little bit short. Thanks to this massive user database, for millions of people, Facebook is the Internet. It’s no longer a social media platform. It’s a lifestyle. That’s why expecting people to move away from Facebook to another social network will not be easy. The emotional switching costs are simply enormous.

Too Early to Give Up

So, it may be too late for LINE to replace Facebook as the next social media giant, but that doesn’t mean there’s no other path it can take to become social media’s Next Big Thing.

The rise of Gen Z

A few years ago, millennial were at the center of this attention. Today, however, the spotlight is gradually shifting to those born after 1996, also known as Generation Z, who are set to be the next largest and most powerful consumer group on the market. There are reasons why Instagram and Snapchat are highly popular among them. Gen Z value aesthetically pleasing visual content and authentic experience the most. Gen Z also doesn’t have strong attachment to apps they use. As a result, LINE’s strategy to introduce Stories on its platform could be considered smart to attract this age group who might be looking for fresh, new experience after Instagram and Snapchat phase out.

Integrated platform

Today, plenty of chat apps are expanding beyond communications is to create a sustainable monetization strategy. Chat apps are moving away from being simply a provider of communication tools to becoming an integrated platform that offered various services, payment mechanisms and content consumption to cater to increasing demand for consumer stickiness, interaction and time spent on the app. So, in order to keep these consumers within the app’s ecosystem, they need to broaden themselves to become platforms. LINE is a multi-purpose social messaging app that allows users to message, share stickers, play games, make payments, request for taxis, and shop online. Its ability to offer a complete digital ecosystem could present itself as an indispensable, smart app that digital consumers can use on a daily basis.

Bottom Line

There’s no doubt. LINE has its eye on global adoption. In addition to their unique breath of services, engagement is the crucial element of the platform. The users are engaged and enjoy the lighthearted nature of the platform. As such, content for this platform should be created with this in mind.

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