As of February 2020, the private messaging service WhatsApp reached 2 billion active users. 2 BILLION. Given there are nearly 8 billion people in the whole world, that means almost 1 quarter of the entire world uses WhatsApp. My mind is officially blown by that number. So, “should I use WhatsApp for my business?” is a redundant question. The question should really be, “why aren’t you using WhatsApp for your business?”.
We’re excited to share that, as of today, WhatsApp supports more than two billion users around the world. Mothers and fathers can reach their loved ones no matter where they are. Brothers and sisters can share moments that matter. Coworkers can collaborate, and businesses can grow by easily connecting with their customers. Private conversations that once were only possible face-to-face can now take place across great distances through instant chats and video calling. There are so many significant and special moments that take place over WhatsApp and we are humbled and honored to reach this milestone.
What is WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is a third party private messaging app that you can download for free. This handy YouTube video from TechBoomers gives you a complete and comprehensive breakdown. In a nutshell, you can use it to message people for free, and do video and voice calls using your phone’s internet connection. This all sounds lovely but *spoiler alert* it was purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion. That might change your opinion of it, depending on how you feel about The Almighty Zuckerberg. There’ve also been issues with security, as we wrote about back in May last year.
What does this have to do with my business?
People are surprisingly open to engaging with businesses via WhatsApp. This might surprise you, if you’re coming to it from a world of house phones and cold callers. In the olden times, shlepping off the sofa to answer a call from a double glazing company on your rotary phone could literally put you in a bad mood all day. But modern communications are increasingly non-verbal, and hand-held. And younger customers would much prefer to speak to someone via WhatsApp.
67% of mobile messaging app users said they expect to use chat more for communicating with businesses over the next two years. What’s more, 53% of respondents say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.
Interestingly, a statistic from the US stated that use of WhatsApp was much higher in the Hispanic community. Fully 42% of Hispanic adults report using WhatsApp, a rate more than twice as high as the average. Make of that what you will, but bilingual users might prefer a conversation they can easily translate into another language.
And, a staggering 98% of all messages are opened within the first few seconds of being received.
But HOW can I use it for my business?
With traditional marketing platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s a fairly straightforward process to promote your business online. It’s harder to work out how to do it via WhatsApp. But it IS possible. You just have to be a bit more innovative in your approach. And since they rolled out the WhatsApp Business App, it’s even easier.
WhatsApp Business App
We’ll come back to you in a future blog post on tips and tricks on using the WhatsApp Business App to market your small business. Here, we’re just going to highlight the differences between the business app and the original app that’s currently used by those 2 billion active users.
With the business app you can create a business profile. This allows you to provide helpful info to your customers like your address, business description, email address, and website. It also gives you a Quick Reply option, which lets you save and reuse messages you frequently send so you can easily answer common questions. You can also organise your contacts or chats with labels, so you can easily find them again. What it also does is provide a reliable environment for your customers to chat to you in. Your account has to be verified, and once you’ve got that dreamy blue tick it means you’re who you say you are.
WhatsApp is tied directly to a single phone number and provides a branded business profile rather than a string of digits. This allows consumers to immediately know who they are chatting with or receiving messages from. WhatsApp also provides reliable delivery information, providing companies the additional benefit of knowing what messages have been delivered and, ultimately, read.
As social media marketers, we’re always going on about the importance of creating authentic relationships with your clients. Two-way conversation is so important with that, and the app allows you to do it.
This is coming across a little like an endorsement by us – it’s not an official one. We’re certainly not being paid by anyone at WhatsApp to shout about their product! But we do like to shout about new and interesting ways to market your business and shout about your skillset. And engaging with WhatsApp might just give your business the edge in a competitive market.