There’s a newcomer in the messaging world, and it’s aimed squarely at Gen Z. Honk, which describes itself as the “all-new way to chat with your friends in real time,” comes from app publisher/software company Los Feliz Engineering (LFE), and is determined to make messaging a “present” experience for a younger generation. Why does Honk matter? Read on to learn more.
What Is Honk?
There’s no send button. There’s no saved chat history. With Honk, conversations take place in real time: when someone types a message on Honk, the recipient of the message can see the sender’s content unfold in real time, warts and all, including revisions that the sender makes. (Honk calls this interface a live typing experience.) The app notifies recipients immediately if someone has left a chat. To get someone’s attention, you can send a “Honk,” described by TechCrunch as “a hard-to-miss notification to join your chat.” Users can even press the Honk button repeatedly to up the ante; the spamming sends notifications to the recipient’s phone if they’re off the app, or a cascade of emoji if their Honk app is open.
Honk accommodates 160 characters, and because the conversation is real time, no messaging is saved. Users who have maxed out their character count simply tap a double arrow “refresh” button to clear the screen and continue the communications. Users can send emoji, which display as huge images temporarily filling the screen. And photos can be accessed from a user’s camera roll to illustrate the chat.
Honk’s Target Audience: Gen Z
If giant emoji and repeated honks sound off-putting, you might not be Honk’s target audience. The app is unapologetically targeting Gen Z: though of course anyone can use Honk, when you set it up, the app asks for your age, and there are exact numbers to answer that question — 18, 19, etc. — up to a point. The last option available is “21+,” a sort of “and the rest” acknowledgement of who Honk is really courting.
Gen Z, of course, has been attracting the interest of brands because of its growing influence. It’s a sizable demographic: as reported by Brookings, more than half of the United States population are part of the Millennial generation or younger. Moreover, Gen Z is poised to overtake Baby Boomers to become the second largest generation in the nation.
Savvy brands also understand that this is a generation shaped by digital. According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teens either own or have access to a smartphone, and 45 percent say they are online “almost constantly.” That’s significant to note because an app like Honk would come naturally to the Gen Z demographic.
All the Rage
Honk is also significant because messaging apps are all the rage, period. Most of the major tech firms have invested heavily into messaging apps because messaging is considered an authentic, immediate form of communication appropriate for the digital age. As we have blogged, behemoths like Facebook acknowledge the value of messaging, having already developed their own messaging app, Facebook Messenger, which brands use to communicate and even share ads.
Messaging features have also cropped up in apps like Google Maps. Social Media Today reports that Google has added new message options to its Maps and Search to make it easier for potential customers to reach out to businesses and ask questions. As Google notes, while business profiles can easily answer the frequently asked questions — the hours a business is open, for example — messaging takes things a step further. Messaging allows users to ask specific questions — for example, do you make vegan baked goods? — and in the process strengthen the bond between business and customer.
What Businesses Should Do
Honk. Gen Z. Messaging. What are the takeaways for your brand? We recommend that you:
- Keep an eye on Honk and apps like it. For now, Honk does not offer any opportunities for advertising — but that day may come soon!
- If Gen Z is a target market for your business, make sure you understand the way this generation communicates so that you know how to reach them in an authentic, meaningful way. Think of Honk as a way to learn, and be open to adapting your own approach =
- Take a closer look at how well you are integrating messaging into your marketing and communications strategies.