Last updated on September 28th, 2017 at 10:28 pm
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – two platforms that were traditionally used for personal conversations among family, friends, and peers; businesses were in no way involved. (We’ll go over what is WhatsApp briefly if you’ve never heard of it.) One must consider that times have changed, platforms have evolved, and consumers have become demanding. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, both now part of Facebook, have enough functionality where they can be used as great tools for marketing. Read on to learn how brands are exploring the marketing possibilities of Whatsapp as well as Facebook Messenger, and which one is worth using.
What is WhatsApp?
Whatsapp is a free instant messaging application for smartphones that is used to send messages, images, video, voice recordings and more. It gained traction as the first mobile application that wasn’t OS specific; that is, it worked across all devices: iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, and later, Blackberry. Remember the days that, when you had a Blackberry, you could only instant message people that had Blackberries? Then iPhone came out with something similar that let you text anyone with an iPhone for free. Whatsapp eliminated these boundaries between devices. And what made it more attractive than texting is that it worked off wifi or your mobile data plan, making it significantly cheaper than texting. For comparison, to have unlimited texting in the US, you can expect to tack on an extra $20 per month on your cell phone bill – and that doesn’t include texting internationally.
Speaking of international, the ability to message anyone around the world for free without needing any sort of username, just their phone number, is what pushed this application to the top as the most popular instant messaging app on the market, clocking in 700 million users as of January 2015.
WhatsApp as a Marketing Tool
Have you ever used WhatsApp to contact a company? If you’re a user, you probably have – it’s super quick, you don’t have to pick up the phone to actually make a call if you don’t want to, and at times it’s easier than writing an email. Best of all, it’s free because it works off your data plan instead of your allotted minutes or text from your phone plan. Whatsapp is increasingly developing its features to be targeted towards businesses which is why, today, using WhatsApp as a marketing tool is a popular point of discussion among many marketing professionals.
Whatsapp still has a few hurdles to overcome. While their tagline is “to connect people around the world”, WhatsApp is not yet available all around the world nor used all over the world. Many Americans still prefer text messaging or using Skype for international calling, while in China it is not even possible to download the app. However, WhatsApp finally gained some well-deserved attention after Facebook bought the application for a staggering $19 billion dollars in 2014.
Small, to mid-sized, and large enterprises began investigating and experimenting with the platform. The following advantages make it a valuable marketing platform:
- It is free – well, almost. You need a sim card and data plan to use the application.
- It gives you the opportunity to get close to your customers: Absolut Vodka has proved that Whatsapp can be an amazing brand-building tool. Young adults were invited to an exclusive launch party for Absolut in Argentina but they could only enter if they convinced “Sven”, the doorman for the party, through WhatsApp to let them in. Thousands of funny messages, voice recordings, videos, proposals and more were the result of this successful marketing campaign. Sven, or rather, Absolut Vodka, received 100% of attention from consumers.
- It allows customers to contact you 24/7. Maybe not ideal for companies who don’t provide service around the clock but still an outlet for customers and some comfort that you’ll see their message as soon as you’re available. Customers may get frustrated if they encounter a problem and can’t get you on the phone at 2 AM. WhatsApp gives them the opportunity to communicate their concern instantly and lets them know when you’ve seen their message. For example, a health insurance company in the Netherlands provides generic customer support through WhatsApp. This is a great way to show your customers that you care and are willing to listen to each and every one of them.
Recently added features make it evident that Whatsapp is not going to take a seat in this race for digital communication. They’ve implemented colorful status updates that were recently rolled out on Facebook. And just the other day, Whatsapp launched verified accounts to select small businesses for testing. If you see a green badge with a white checkmark next to a contact’s name, it means that contact number is a business. It’s interesting to note that verified business accounts do not have the ability to delete Whatsapp messages. This is supposedly done to build trust and leave a paper trail between consumers and businesses.
WhatsApp can thus be a great platform to connect in a very personal way with your audience and an interesting choice for secondary marketing activities and support – you just need a bit of creativity and courage to take the leap. With talk about Whatsapp being able to accept payments in the near future, this is one platform that
Facebook Messenger as a Marketing Tool
Though WhatsApp is a free and quick communication method, it’s not quite at the level of Facebook Messenger, taking into consideration all the recent developments of the latter.
- In February 2017, we were all in for a surprise when TranfersWise announced that they integrated with Facebook Messenger, allowing users to process payments internationally through the messenger app. With this bold move, Facebook seems determined to take on Paypal, the current leader in the industry of instant payment methods and money transfers. Imagine the possibilities to come.
- In 2016, Facebook launched a “unified” inbox for businesses which consisted of your Facebook profile inbox, Facebook business page inbox, and Instagram. This provided everyone with a clearer and less time-consuming way to view your messages across the different categories of profiles and pages you managed.
- In 2016, Facebook announced that companies can now utilize chatbots for automated marketing and support services. KLM was one of the first companies to quickly implement this handy tool, providing customers with a better user experience, such as getting flight updates, and being able to get through security and on board the plane with just the Facebook Messenger app. This also conveniently allowed KLM to use its existing customer database to recognize when a customer contacted them via any medium such as Twitter or WeChat.
- You can now create sponsored ads within Facebook Messenger, as opposed to showing sponsored ad posts on peoples’ newsfeeds. These types of ads will work best for those customers that are already connected with your brand since instant messenger is a more personal way to get in touch with your customers. There are two different types of messenger ads and in our next article, we’ll go into more detail about each:
- Facebook Messenger as a destination: destination ads
- Facebook Messenger as a placement: sponsored messages.
WhatsApp vs Messenger
Facebook is testing the limits of traditional instant messaging tremendously, announcing one disruptive development after another, and implementing them successfully, thus proving to be a very strong marketing platform. Additionally, having over one billion people who are able to communicate actively with brands gives it a strong advantage over Whatsapp. For us, Facebook Messenger is the clear winner in this comparison with WhatsApp but we’re not sure for how long. Whatsapp is in the development stages for several exciting features that businesses and customers may both find interesting and convenient making it hot on the tail of Facebook Messenger. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Have you ever created an ad through Facebook Messenger, or spoken with a Facebook chatbot? We’d love to hear your experience.