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How annoying apps get popular and survive

It’s more than likely a silly looking comic strip has appeared in your Facebook feed a few times in the past week or two.

Bitstrips, a comic generating application founded in 2008, has taken Facebook by storm. Notching up over 20 million downloads and 3 million likes on its Facebook page, it has even attracted interest from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.

Bitstrips CEO Jacob Blackstock describes it as a “new way to express yourself” and interact with friends, but is it a game changer?

In a city where social networking is dominated by Facebook, Marketing talked to a number of agencies to ask how they evaluate the hype.

Win Mak, managing director of Designercity Hong Kong, might find the app annoying but said there could be some areas where it might benefit marketers.

“For apps to be successful in social media, we should not only look at how well they are being taken up by users, but also how long it can sustain itself and remain popular in the long term.

“I think this notion should apply to all businesses anyway,” Mak added.

For Mike Leung, managing director of Agenda Hong Kong & Wunderman Hong Kong, the app appears to be an interesting way to express yourself. But that’s about it.

“People always say that specific platforms like Facebook might not be a good channel to create an experience or scenario, but Bitstrips has stood up from its peers. It’s definitely riding on the viral and social effect of Facebook.”

However, he remains skeptical about the long term sustainability of the app.

“For now, the success is really the amplification of the experience at the front end. But my question is the big data or analytics that it has at the backend whether it could sustain and create its next step.”

Winky Chan, managing director of Pixel Media Group, is also suspect about its long term prospects.

“I don’t think it will have a long shelf life. It lacks the utility functions for it to be continuously used by users in the long term,” she said.

“For an app to be successful, developers are tapping into your friend’s list and including them as part of your social activities like Candy Crush and even apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Skype, as they all revolve around your friends list.”

Social media, she believes, plays a role in any app development. Companies need to think 360 when promoting or advertising new products, services or app including offline, digital display, search, mobile, video and social.

Bitstrips 2

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