Business communication tool Slack introduced voice calling this week. The new feature “Calls” allows slack users to start private or group calls with other slack users. Slack has confirmed video calls are in its future, and has acquired screen sharing firm Screenhero for its video calling technology.

It looks like Slack is headed to the next direction of social media platforms: messaging. L2’s Intelligence Report: Social Platforms shows social media companies that built private messaging apps grew users exponentially in the past few years. Whatsapp grew its userbase from 300 million in 2013 to 500 million in 2015. And WeChat grew its userbase to 400 million. As shown in this graph from L2’s study, these messaging services grew their subscribers even faster than Instagram.

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Social media apps are among the top locations where smartphone users’ in-app time is spent, but native messaging apps are comparable and account for 5% of time spent on smartphones. Given the infinite possibilities, messaging platforms should not be looked at as features. Rather, they are the new frontier of social innovation. Take China’s WeChat, for example, which has evolved into a social commerce ecosystem without any equals in Europe or the U.S. And Snapchat, which has evolved from a platform for teen selfies to a platform for major media outlets.    

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