By: Joseph Sanfilippo and Ronald Zampanti
WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that is available for IPhone, Blackberry, Android, Nokia, and Windows Phone. Each phone is able to send messages to each other across this platform. WhatsApp allows you to exchange messages with your friends and family without having to pay for Short Message Service (SMS). WhatsApp uses the same internet data plan that you would use for email and web browsing, making it free to message your friends since it can be used over Wi-Fi. WhatsApp’s biggest competitor is Telegram, which is a free messaging app over the internet that prides itself on being the most secure messaging app available. However, WhatsApp is way more popular and used by way more people globally.
WhatsApp was founded mainly by Jan Koum, but was also co-founded by Brian Acton in 2009. Jan and Brian both worked at Yahoo! before they created what we know as WhatsApp. After leaving Yahoo!, Jan and Brian realized how big apps were growing, so they decided to come up with a great app that would make them money. Jan came up with the name “WhatsApp” because he liked how it sounded a lot like “What’s up.” In 2014, Facebook officially bought WhatsApp for an astonishing 19 billion dollars, which is ironic because after leaving Yahoo!, they both applied for jobs at Facebook, but were rejected. As of February 2016, WhatsApp reached one billion users, making it the most popular messaging application, and it is still growing. At one point, WhatsApp was gaining about a million subscribers every month, and users were sending 30 billion text messages a day. Despite selling the company to Facebook, Koum still is involved in the app.
When using WhatsApp, you can only communicate with people who have the app as well. Recently, WhatsApp was made free to download and use whenever you want. However, WhatsApp used to offer their product free for the first year, and each year to follow it cost $0.99, which was still cheaper than using regular SMS. In the licensing agreement, it states that users must be age sixteen or older to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp is mainly used by people who travel and reside in a different country from home for a while. This app is unique in this way, as customers can avoid international charges that they would incur by using regular SMS messaging to contact their friends and family back home. The messaging on WhatsApp is all over Wi-Fi, so if you and your friends and family download WhatsApp, you can communicate with each other for free rather than paying the large international messaging costs you would normally pay without the app. As long as you have Wi-Fi, you can communicate with your friends and families overseas for no cost.
WhatsApp is used just like text messaging. With the help of the app, people can send unlimited basic text messages to anyone who also has a WhatsApp number. You are also able to send unlimited images, videos, and voice messages on the app. Just like normal SMS messaging, you can create group messages as well as share your location with your contact list. The app also features a large number of emojis and symbols, as well as allows you to post status updates so your WhatsApp friends can see if you are busy or not. WhatsApp also offers WhatsApp Calling, which allows you to call your friends and family for free, even if you are in a different country. WhatsApp uses your internet connection just like it does with its messaging rather than your cellular plan’s voice minutes.
The people who use WhatsApp are young; half of users are below the age of 36. Fifteen percent of WhatsApp users are between the ages of 18 and 34. WhatsApp is also popular among teenagers. When looking at the demographic of WhatsApp users, almost half of the adults that use WhatsApp during a normal month are Hispanic. Also, users are 20 percent more likely to have a household income that is less than 50,000 dollars. WhatsApp sees most of their users in poorer countries around the world, as many of them cannot afford the high prices that can come through using SMS messaging and a cellular plan’s voice minutes. WhatsApp is now completely free to use. Many people, especially those with low household incomes, use WhatsApp to avoid the costs of regular messaging and regular calling.
WhatsApp does not have any advertisements. The creators wanted to provide a service that is not riddled with advertisements. The founders of WhatsApp know people often try to avoid ads and they hope consumers will stay on the app longer without ads.
Businesses can broadcast using WhatsApp. Broadcasting consists of sending bulk messages to WhatsApp users that can include text, images, video, or audio content. Broadcasting was created in 2013 by WhatsApp. It also allows users to send group messages without revealing recipients to one another, which cuts down on the user’s notifications. This is used by marketers on the app because with broadcasting they are able to reach almost one hundred percent of their contact list, which is their target market. Since WhatsApp is a personal communication app, businesses should be advised to tread lightly in how they market themselves, especially since they cannot make formal advertisements on the app.
Marketers can make their own WhatsApp account using their phone number. They can create their own brand persona or character on the account. For instance, a fictional character was made by Absolut Vodka in order to create interest and engagement. Absolut Vodka wanted to engage young consumers with the brand for its limited edition Absolut Unique in Argentina. So they decided to throw an exclusive launch party but to get in you had to contact the “fictional doorman” Sven, a guy who is notoriously hard to please. The Whatsapp number was released in all Absolut media and advertising and users started sending messages, songs and even indecent proposals to Sven in order to get in.
Businesses have to do what we consider “behind the scenes” marketing. Without the ability to make advertisements on this media platform, businesses have to acquire consumers’ phone numbers in order to deliver any form of content on WhatsApp. Marketers can offer consumers something in exchange for consumer phone numbers. Incentives can range from deals or sales to valuable information. Once a phone list is built, marketers need to produce great content on relative topics in order to keep consumers engaged. Content can be delivered through images, videos, audio recording, or text messages. Speedy customer service is needed of businesses marketing on this website. Messages are generally seen within minutes on WhatsApp, while messages can be seen days later on other social media platforms such as Facebook. WhatsApp has a 70% open message rate, meaning marketers are basically guaranteed exposure to their messages. Marketers can also engage in consumer research with this app. Marketers can question consumers regarding certain things they like, or have them choose between options the brand is proposing to launch. Consumer input is always useful in making decisions.
Sales is a metric marketers can use to measure a company’s marketing objectives. Businesses can determine whether more sales are being made since utilizing the app. The amount of open messages can indicate whether consumers are actually reading and looking at content created by the company on this app. The amount of people directly messaging the company through WhatsApp is a statistic to keep in mind as a marketer. Website traffic based on how many people clicked the company’s website link on WhatsApp is also important.
In countries where SMS messaging (a.k.a. text messaging) is less accessible or more expensive, WhatsApp is widely popular. The app is not that popular in America because of SMS deals. Small businesses and artisans in countries such as India have used the application to communicate directly with clients and finalize sales. In other countries, some businesses have put their WhatsApp numbers on advertisements and websites, letting the public know they can be reached using the application.
Businesses can purchase credit messages to market on this media. The greater the number of messages bought in a subscription, the smaller the cost per message. Five credit messages costs about $178.16, while three hundred credit messages costs $6,427.32.
It costs practically nothing to use this app and it doesn’t require the upkeep of other social networks that necessitate active content production. WhatsApp is simply another avenue by which customers can reach you; all you need is a phone number.