In February 2014, Facebook bought the messaging app WhatsApp for over $19 billion. It was only a matter of time before Facebook opened the app, which is mostly used by people looking to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues internationally. Facebook’s recent WhatsApp changes have made those intentions clear.
The first major change in WhatsApp took place in December. Toward the end of last year, Facebook decided to allow business to link their Facebook and WhatsApp accounts. The way this works is that a user sees an ad on Facebook. If they also have WhatsApp downloaded on their phone, the user will be able to click on the ad and message the business behind that ad. Other than the button for WhatsApp, these ads look like a regular Facebook ad. However, the only way a business can use the integration with WhatsApp is by boosting a post.
The second major change took place on January 18. On that date, Facebook officially released WhatsApp business for Indonesia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Currently, WhatsApp Business is only available for Android. In the new app, businesses are able to make Business Profiles, Messaging Tools, Messaging Statistics, WhatsApp Web, and make sure their account is listed as a business one.
Business Profiles function like Google My Business. This is where businesses will list their description and contact information. Messaging Tools are similar to Facebook’s messaging tools and allow businesses to set quick replies to common questions, greeting messages, and away messages. Messaging Statistics let businesses see which posts are being viewed, so that they get an idea of what’s working. The last difference between WhatsApp Business and the regular app is WhatsApp Web, which enables businesses to send and receive messages from a desktop computer.
WhatsApp is currently most popular in India and Brazil, where the majority of small businesses say they use the app to connect with customers according to a Morning Consult study WhatsApp cites. However, success in other countries doesn’t mean it will be successful in the United States. We’ll just have to wait to see what adoption rates in the US look like.