WhatsApp Messaging Is Changing
Facebook’s chief financial officer David Wehner has announced that B2C, or business to customer interaction could be a feature for the Facebook acquired instant messaging app WhatsApp in the future. Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp is not known for business user bases. People using WhatsApp were not businesses looking to engage with potential customers. In addition to being more appealing for brands, the proposal could lead to more revenue if WhatsApp goes ahead with the new feature. WhatsApp has a user base of more than 800 million people and this is very promising for brands to build relationships with users.
Will WhatsApp Messaging be the last place to remain advertisement free?
Facebook already has Businesses on Messenger app that allows customers to be informed about shipping and orders of products. The B2C strategy used in Businesses on Messenger is effective because customers only get information when they want and only after signing up. If this initiative is anything to go by, then WhatsApp could really help consumers to stay in touch in real time with brands that they have opted in to hear from. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion, they said that there would not be any advertisements on the instant messaging service. However, this is entirely different from permission based advertisements where the user wants to be actively informed about brands. There will be choices for users of WhatsApp if the B2C messaging feature goes ahead: people can opt in to receive B2C messages from brands or they can opt out.
Implication for marketing and WhatsApp users
The advantage of using WhatsApp is connecting with other users around the world. Although SMS marketing in commonplace in the US, it is not so in other countries where email and more traditional forms of marketing are used. If WhatsApp was to go through with the new initiative, it will open up communication of brands with customers all around the globe in a seamless manner. As long as marketers adhere to the rules of SMS marketing such as timing, relevancy and quality control of content, the scope for international SMS marketing is huge through WhatsApp.
The implications for consumers if the move goes ahead will be manifold. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that WhatsApp will need to scale to 1 billion users before it is a meaningful business. How, the benefits of a SMS based eCommerce may make the implementation occur faster. As mentioned before, Facebook has a business on Messenger feature already where customers are offered support, updates and payment options for buying products. The international dimension will make sending payments via SMS very appealing to users of WhatsApp. The ease and personalisation of SMS payment will make brands eager to adopt this eCommerce feature.