Since it was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19bn, WhatsApp has become the world’s fastest-growing communication app. And, with now over 1bn global daily users, the recent announcement of WhatsApp business accounts being in beta testing is a welcomed next step for the company.
This presents businesses both large and small with an interesting opportunity to not only get in touch with their customers in real-time, but to provide a personal touch that social media can sometimes lack.
What Exactly Are WhatsApp Business Accounts?
According to the announcement made by WhatsApp earlier this month, some businesses (involved in the beta testing phase of this endeavour) have been verified by WhatsApp and will now have a green badge appear next to their name. When users start to chat to these businesses, yellow messages, which cannot be deleted, will appear on screen.
If a customer already has a business’ contact number saved in their address book, the contact name on WhatsApp will appear as it does in their address book. If not, the contact will appear with the name the business has chosen for the WhatsApp account.
Recent reports are speculating that WhatsApp could be developing a standalone app that is specifically designed for businesses.
Who Could Benefit?
In short: B2B businesses. Social media is an excellent way of selling your business’ products or services and getting in touch with your consumers. But, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all, and it doesn’t work for everyone. Specifically in the B2B sphere, marketing on platforms such as Facebook can prove difficult. For example, how does one sell high-end medical equipment, such as CAT Scanners and X-Ray machines on Facebook? With difficulty. But it’s not impossible.
Using WhatsApp for business could change this. It will allow you to segment databases of consumers who are interested in what you are offering and market to the directly, in real-time. After all, they wouldn’t save your business’ contact number on their phone if they weren’t at least a little bit interested in making a purchase.
What Can It Be Used For?
There’s no denying that there are a host of benefits that businesses can reap from using a WhatsApp for business account. Especially when one considers the possibilities of communicating in real-time with highly segmented lists of both proven customers and possible leads.
Some of the other advantages to using WhatsApp for business include:
- Customer Support – Videos and tutorials can be sent to customers directly, should they ask a specific question about how to use a product. If your offering is a service, one can use video to express how the service works concisely and in an easy-to-follow format. Alternatively, they can be uploaded to Status for everyone in your contacts to view.
- Personalised Messaging – WhatsApp offers the opportunity to take Customer Service one step further. Sure, social media is great for personalisation, but it’s not the same as being able to directly message a brand whenever you have a question about a product or service.
- Product Demos – Whenever you add a new product to your inventory, or a new service to your offerings, they can be demonstrated or explained live in Status. Having this information readily available keeps your product/service and business top-of-mind.
- Real-Time Customer Service – Staff can be tasked with monitoring the platform (think Community Managers who solely focus on WhatsApp enquiries) and respond to feedback, questions, comments, and concerns as they come in. One could even go so far as to use text, audio, or video to personalise the experience further.
For now, however, all we can do is wait and speculate on the topic of WhatsApp for Business. We’ll be following this story closely, and updating you on relevant new developments as they happen. No word yet on when we can look forward to seeing the fully-fledged version of this offering being made available to the general public.