Facebook’s $20bn acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014 raised eyebrows, with people wondering how the company would make its money back or ever make a profit…
At the time of purchase, WhatsApp had a revenue of $10m. A pittance compared to Facebook’s revenue stream. But the social media giant has a proven track record of monetising social networks, as it’s done with itself and now Instagram too. Now WhatsApp is set to get the same treatment with the launch of WhatsApp Business.
The WhatsApp blog explains that,
“Our new app will make it easier for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for our 1.3 billion users to chat with businesses that matter to them.”
What is WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business is an app that is designed for small businesses. It is used to communicate easily and more casually with their customers through WhatsApp. Businesses can create a profile and speak directly to their clientele.
The app allows businesses to set up automated greetings and away messages, and will create a platform for quick replies and responses to consumer questions or common requests. The WhatsApp Business app also allows businesses to create a profile, which will include useful information such as a business description, email, address and website.
Companies that set up a WhatsApp Business profile will be certified as a verified business, giving users assurance that they’re speaking to the right person.
To build trust and to target only interested parties, users have to opt-in (and out again) to receive communications from a business. This means that companies using WhatsApp Business must develop a strategy that encourages consumers to join, and to stay.
The app will be available as a web application too, meaning that WhatsApp Business can be used on desktop as well as mobile.
Businesses can also access analytics data, such as the number of messages read. Although this function is going to be basic to begin with, based on Facebook’s previous work, we can expect to see the analytics element of the app grow and develop.
Is WhatsApp Business for me?
The app is already available in the US, UK, Mexico, Italy and Indonesia, and will be rolled out globally in the coming weeks. The WhatsApp blog notes the success that WhatsApp Business has already seen, commenting that,
“Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil say WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business today. And WhatsApp Business will make it easier for people to connect with them, and vice versa, in a fast and simple way.”
WhatsApp already has 1.3bn users globally, with over 55bn messages sent each day. This gives WhatsApp Business a huge platform upon which is can grow its user base.
There are a couple of things to note:
- WhatsApp is vastly more popular in some countries, which would make the investment of time and energy in WhatsApp Business well worth it. However for countries that have much lower user numbers, consider carefully if the platform will add real value to your business.
- You will need to think of a strategy to get users to connect with your business before you begin.
- You will need a separate phone number for your WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business applications.
WhatsApp Business Pros & Cons
- The application will allow you to interact with your customers, meaning that you can provide a more personal, immediate service.
- Companies can build trust with a verified business profile.
- You can always stay in touch with your customers, and so can improve retention and increase repeat purchases.
- You will be able to access everyone with WhatsApp on their phone – which is basically everyone.
- Users will expect businesses to be attentive to their messages. This may put a strain on companies that do not have the time.
- The application can only be installed on Android, with an in-browser option for desktop.
- At the time of writing there is no WhatsApp Business application for iOS.
- Encouraging customers to follow your business may not be as easy as it seems.
- As it stands, the application can only be installed on one device per business. Meaning that only one person can handle the account.
Need help leveraging WhatsApp Business for your company?