WhatsApp is changing the way it does business. This article takes a dive into the who’s, what’, and why’s of the latest news from WhatsApp.
Brands will be seeing big changes in the way they use WhatsApp.
Though used less widely in the US, the app is currently the most popular messaging app in the world.
And until now, it has offered users and businesses alike a completely free experience.
But in addition to using the app to stay connected to friends and family, WhatsApp states in a new blog post that “more people are using the app to communicate with businesses they care about.”
To meet the demand, the app announced a set of new features designed to better connect businesses with their customers.
The catch? Large enterprises will be charged for the features.
Though WhatsApp began testing verified business accounts last week (available only to a small number in its pilot program), more details have recently been announced about its intention to monetize.
Small to medium sized businesses will still have access to a free app; only large enterprises – like “airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks” – will be charged an undecided amount.
“We want to put a basic foundation in place to allow people to message businesses and for them to get the responses that they want,” Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema told the Wall Street Journal.
“We do intend on charging businesses in the future.”
The new features are intended to “apply what we’ve learned helping people connect with each other to helping people connect with businesses that are important to them.”
For example, they will help “shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone” easier use and an easier way to respond to messages.
WhatsApp, which was started in 2009 and saw little substantial growth, has come a long way.
In 2009, Facebook purchased the app for an impressive $19 billion dollars. Now, the app reports over 1 billion users every day.
When Facebook acquired the app, they did away with the previous $1 dollar annual fee and stated they would not allow ads on the site.
While this was a definite benefit for users and the overall experience, it left the app with few ways to make money.
How Brands Can Benefit
In addition to the ease of use and communication with customers, brands will benefit from the ability to verify their accounts.
The verification will allow them an official presence and give users an easy way to identify a business from another user.
WhatsApp notes that if a user already has a business saved in their contacts the name will appear as it was saved. If not, the name that appears will be the one the business has chosen for themselves.
Businesses will also be differentiated in a chat by color; when users start talking to a business the message will be in yellow.
Unlike the usual messages, users will not be able to delete the messages they receive from companies, which may prove beneficial to business.
The new tools will serve brands and customers in different ways, “whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight.”
While users may fear receiving spam from businesses, WhatsApp has made it clear that users can block companies they no longer wish to be contacted by. And, to be contacted by a brand to begin with, users must opt in.
As of now, WhatsApp is still in the testing phase. Its new tools are available only to those businesses in the pilot program – mostly companies in Europe, India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
It will likely go through several rounds of testing and improvements before its official debut to the public.