SINGAPORE: Mobile chat apps have become increasingly popular in Asia and brands should use these mobile social communities to encourage relationships with consumers, a leading business executive has argued.

Writing for Digital News Asia, Gary Shapiro said this is best achieved on a one-to-one level and he commended Line and WeChat, the Japanese and Chinese network messaging sites, for building platforms with just such a purpose in mind.

Shapiro is the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, the US trade body that represents more than 2,000 consumer electronic firms, which is organising a consumer technology event in Shanghai at the end of May.

He said both Line and WeChat have developed technology that allows users to create customised stickers, using their own photos, and it is the emergence of such functions that foster personal relationships. And that matters to business too.

"Successful businesses in the digital economy should recognise that to thrive on socially connected digital platforms means more than just having an online or social presence," he wrote.

"To be successful in the connected era, businesses should leverage mobile social communities as a tool to encourage one-to-one relationship building, find new and more personal ways to communicate with consumers, and provide innovative platforms and venues for communities to grow.

"With the business community in mind, both Line and WeChat have set about building platforms for brands to engage with their customers on a one-to-one level.

"These tools enable companies to reconsider strategies to ensure content will persuade the disengaged to participate."

In a recent article for Admap, Edward Bell of FCB Greater China argued that WeChat is addressing user concerns over ads by pricing adspace highly - at a similar cost to TV - and vetting these ads to ensure they are creative and not sales-driven.

Data sourced from Digital News Asia; additional content by Warc staff