Skype; the delightfully unexpected Marketing Channel

The creative marketing abilities available through Skype are truly endless. This assignment breaks down the physical features of Skype and builds its perception as a Marketing Channel through its variety of features and inspiring examples that others have discovered and taken full advantage of.

What type of channel is Skype? 

Skype is a audio/visual social meet up platform, accessible through the web. Its an easy to download internet software, and app, allowing users to call or video chat with any person or group of people who are also Skype users. “Once you download, register, and install the software, you’ll need to plug in a headset, speakers or USB phone to start using Skype.” –Webopedia 

Skype Features.

Skype’s  features are grouped into four main categories that offer a variety of communication outlets on one easy to navigate platform.

1. Calling. Allows users to call anyone else in the world, on Skype, for free.

2. Video Calls. Allows users to communicate face to face in either a group or intimate setting.

3. Sharing. Allows users to send files, photos and videos of any size; instantly, through drag and drop functions.

4. Social Connection. Instant message your Facebook friends and check out your news feed directly from Skype.

How it works.

Skype works very easily. With as little as an internet connection, and computer (or mobile device) a new user can sign up for free, download the software (via the web) directly to their device and begin making phone and video calls to any other Skype user; immediately.

History of Skype.

This info-graphic outlines Skype’s dynamic timeline that brought them to a head turning 100,000,000 million users in just 7 years. Originally founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis in 2003 to function as a fast tracking file share program, evolved into an “internet accessible software company that quickly became the world’s most popular application to make voice and video calls over the internet.”

Even with a few shaky decisions, made early on by the founders, ultimately the number of users could no longer be ignored by Microsoft; who finally purchased the progressive video communication site in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

With a massive user base, Microsoft quickly began making changes to monetize without breaking down the social structure its users had grown to love.

Who’s the {Target Audience}?

In 2012 Skype identified their target market quite broadly as “folks who spend a good amount of time online already and we’re wondering how many will want to be “video-ready” on a moments notice.” In a push to test this theory Skype turned to targeted Twitter adds to help users tap into their human side by returning to “face-to-face” communication. However in 2013, data shed some more definitive light on who’s using Skype; allowing more precise targeting.

“At present, Microsoft estimates nearly 47 million daily active users. Parents make up 45.8% of users, and 53.7% are women—so there are a lot of moms using Skype. By sharing these demographics, Microsoft is clearly petitioning advertisers who target parents and families.” –The Market Strategist

Who’s using it?

What tells me Skype has their targeting efforts focused in the right direction is further discovered when we take a look at who is actually using the platform. The truth is, a broad range of users have been found using Skype for anything from basic communication to creative collaborations.

Military families.

Journalists.

Pet Owners.

and quite a few celebrities to include Simon Cowell.

 

User Numbers.

With so many unique and creative ways to use Skype we have seen some pretty clear reasons that  its “500 million registered users, (2.7 million daily active users) has caused Skype to become the most popular voice communication service in the world.” –Nadeem Unuth

Social Integration. 

Skype’s “other features” should probably be renamed to “social features” as the following offerings integrate well over a variety of social platforms.

As mentioned earlier Skype allows users to send messages and monitor news Facebook news-feeds from the user account. But this is hardly the only social integration tool offered by Skype.

Included as paid features, WiFi capabilities allow users to access the web and check any social platform the user wishes to navigate to.

Users also have the ability to add Skype buttons to websites or blogs, allowing anyone to call or instant message; with just one click.

And, my favorite social function; connecting to inspire entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Mobile Compatibility. 

“Skype launched android and iPhone apps in 2009 and has been successfully mobile compatible since then. In 2010 an upgrade was made to the iPhone app to evolve with 3G network accessibility.”

Skype is accessible via apple face time, Facebook chat, go to meeting and Cisco WebEx that function seamlessly across mobile platforms.

“Now Microsoft has the opportunity to put Skype into as many platforms as possible.” We see that with the capabilities for Skype to be used on these 6 mobile devices.

Android, iPhone, windows phone, blackberry, Nokia X and the Amazon Fire phone.

What’s neat about Skype is its foundation platform to allow users to get as creative as their minds will allow. Just from all the examples shown above it becomes quite clear how businesses can branch out and use Skype capabilities to grow their business and reach customers in more meaningful ways.

My favorite, structured, function Skype provides is, Skype in the Classroom.

This progressive style of learning is knocking down classroom learning hurdles; one Skype session at a time.

Introducing Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

With free features linking students to inspirational role models of all genres, (worldwide) there are no longer educational boundaries placed on the reach of traditional classrooms.

What seems to be the next big “thing” in education is currently underutilized in schools lacking proper technology; or even something as simple as creativity.

I see this as a huge opportunity for K-12 technology companies to reach their market in a more functional format.  Rather than pushing devices on school districts, these companies could use a bit of creativity and show schools what lack of certain equipment is causing them to miss out on.

K12 companies could offer “free” learning session held in either the local library, community center, or even in school auditoriums. School’s aren’t quick to deny the communities help in improving education. Making a meaningful relationship around a desirable need helps open the door to continuing the sales conversation.

These free sessions would include the volunteering K12 company to provide a variety of tech devices to complete any of the Skype classroom sessions.

1. Speaking with an author

2. Participating in featured literacy activities.

3. Hundreds of literacy lessons.

4. Create and share e-books.

5. Interviews with famous innovators.

This is only one example for an industry specific company to use Skype in a creative format that inspires technology use in an educational setting.

Becoming an industry thought leader is a strong way to knock other competition off the radar and giving back in an industry niche is just the thing to get started.

The following presentation highlights how brands are able to use Skype’s features to go far beyond a face-to face chat, with some rather innovative marketing tactics.

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