Most of us – the two billion or so people on earth – who use WhatsApp do so in order to keep in touch with friends and family. In an increasingly globalised world, we are moving around and travelling more and more frequently and, as a result, we are increasingly looking for the best ways to communicate with those we love.
However, with such a massive chunk of the world’s population on WhatsApp, businesses of all sizes are considering how best to use WhatsApp as a tool for marketing, sales, and business operations.
Small businesses have long been using WhatsApp as a handy, multipurpose tool. Offices (like ours here at Matrix) will oftentimes have group chats on WhatsApp to quickly share updates and office news – it’s free, easy to use, and everyone already has one they check frequently.
Some small businesses like take-out restaurants and cab services are also using WhatsApp to connect with customers quickly and efficiently. Moreover, a lot of small businesses use WhatsApp for customer service.
While your small business may not have the capacity for any sort of large-scale customer service, it is oftentimes easier and more efficient for staff to quickly fire off responses to customers via WhatsApp – especially now that WhatsApp web makes responding quickly so much easier.
Surprisingly, some professional interactions that are famously done in-person are also being outsourced to WhatsApp.
Some doctors are consulting with their patients over WhatsApp and some overworked lovebirds are deciding what engagement rings to buy for their soon-to-be-spouses over WhatsApp rather than heading into a store.
Finally, communicating with your customers via WhatsApp allows for a personal, somewhat informal touch that isn’t compatible with other sources of communication like phone calls and emails.
WhatsApp allows you to comfortably communicate with your customers and to establish a personal, friendly rapport with them on a platform that they already associate with communication between family and friends.
Unsurprisingly however, WhatsApp is an attractive option for big businesses everywhere. WhatsApp’s founders are famously anti-ad and pro-privacy, but now businesses will be able given the ability to communicate with their customers and potential customers. WhatsApp elaborated in their blog post on the subject:
That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.
Some of us may baulk at the thought of sending our banks sensitive information over a chat service like WhatsApp. WhatsApp has worked hard to allay these fears with a dedication to privacy, two-step verification process, and end-to-end encryption.
However there seems to be a new hacking scandal every day that ruins lives, zaps bank accounts, or destroys hospital records, and it’s difficult not to be wary of WhatsApp along with every other social media channel. As their ties to businesses develop they will no doubt work to increase their already impressive security measures.
Importantly, WhatsApp has also put in place a number of precautionary regulations. Official accounts for companies will be marked by a green official account tick mark similar to those on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, the businesses will bear the costs of operating on WhatsApp and messaging and interacting with customers on the app.
Obviously this is a game-changer in a big way. Instead of racking up costs with SMS and phone plans, businesses will be able to communicate instantly, and directly with their customers. Moreover, businesses can communicate instantly with huge numbers of their customers to provide updates, offers, and news.
However, WhatsApp may still need to clarify their strategy for businesses. They claim to remain serious about their commitment to minimising advertisements, and buried deep in their FAQs, they state: “We do not want you to have a spammy experience; as with all of your messages, you can manage these communications, and we will honor the choices you make.” However, the same FAQ section also states: “Messages you may receive [from businesses] containing marketing could include an offer for something that might interest you.” To me, messages with offers that “might interest you” sounds like the subject line of every email currently hanging out in my spam folder.
There’s no doubt Whatsapp will continue to grow and develop. It will be interesting to see WhatsApp’s relationship with businesses develop and mature over time. For the time being however, try innovating with WhatsApp and incorporating its use into your businesses. No matter the size of your company, WhatsApp is one more efficiency-maximising tool that can be helpfully integrated into your business.
Interested in learning more about WhatsApp and how Matrix Internet can help you to utilise your company’s full digital potential? Contact one of our digital marketing masters today to learn more!
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