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Tapping WhatsApp to Engage with Millennials in Germany

September 25, 2017 | Mobile

Tim Keller
Executive Director, Brand Strategy and Innovation
Kolle Rebbe

Instead of using mobile devices to broadcast their lives and seek internet fame, millennials in Germany are more keen on connecting with friends one-on-one and sharing special moments. When Bundesagentur für Arbeit—Germany’s federal employment agency—enlisted Kolle Rebbe to reach this audience, the company tapped into this behavior through a campaign on WhatsApp using chatbots, hashtags and influencers. eMarketer’s Sean Creamer spoke with Tim Keller, executive director of brand strategy and innovation at Kolle Rebbe, about the execution and results of the mobile-first campaign.

eMarketer: What was the goal for Bundesagentur für Arbeit’s campaign targeted at millennials?

Tim Keller: Bundesagentur für Arbeit wanted to launch a campaign focused on helping the younger generation find jobs. The goal was to inform millennials that there are new possibilities to explore in trades, craftsmanships and other fields, and that a career doesn’t always require someone to attend university. To reach millennials, we started a mobile-first campaign on WhatsApp using chatbots, hashtags and influencers to reach young Germans.

eMarketer: How did you narrow down the best way to reach millennials with this message?

Keller: We conducted social listening and decided to create a campaign hashtag rooted in how millennials speak about certain topics. We chose “typisch ich,” which means “this is typical for me.” We wanted to ask German millennials, “What makes you special? What is the one thing that interests you?”

“[Millennials in Germany] would rather talk to one person without caring about ‘likes’ or internet fame.”

eMarketer: How did this become a mobile-first initiative?

Keller: We knew millennials don’t use Facebook anymore but are active on messenger apps on their smartphone—their most important device. The most popular messenger app in Germany is WhatsApp, and young Germans use it to send personal messages to their best friends. Many millennials have deleted pictures on Instagram or made their account private. They would rather talk to one person without caring about “likes” or internet fame.

It was important to use WhatsApp for this reason. We needed to learn how to interact with millennials in this way on the app and make them think about themselves and their future.

eMarketer: What role did the chatbot function on WhatsApp serve in this campaign?

Keller: The chatbot asked what is special about you, what you’re interested in and career-based questions. Then it provided young people with a profile based on real science about job placement and psychological types, which has a connection to certain job areas.

We wanted to create a profile that was cool and shareable to millennials. Our aim was to emulate the dashboards Spotify and Nike have for their audience. We didn’t display the brand colors of Bundesagentur für Arbeit, for example.

eMarketer: Was it difficult to get young Germans to participate?

Keller: It was a lot of work to get them to participate, but those that did now get messages from the unemployment office and most have not opted out. The campaign was promoted with display ads that led respondents to a landing page telling them to message a specific number via WhatsApp [to get started].

“This generation is not too afraid of data privacy. To them, the benefit was greater than the loss of personal data or their mobile number.”

eMarketer: Were there concerns that millennials wouldn’t want to share that much personal information with the chatbot?

Keller: This generation is not too afraid of data privacy. To them, the benefit was greater than the loss of personal data or their mobile number. The campaign was an important lesson that you always have to offer a benefit to the audience, especially if you want Germans to share anything about themselves.

eMarketer: What else was done to ensure that the campaign would truly resonate with millennials in Germany?

Keller: The first step to establish the #typischich hashtag was with the help of German YouTube influencers [like Julien Bam]. The second, larger step was asking, “Why not get help finding a job that fits your needs and your strengths?”

eMarketer: What were the results of the campaign?

Keller: The campaign reached almost 200,000 different young people. This is a huge amount of people due to the fact that you have to give your mobile number to an official institution, and you have to share personal data to generate a profile.


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