Facebook Now Offering WhatsApp Advertising Opportunities
By Dan Goldstein
Earlier this month, Facebook announced some new opportunities for businesses to engage with existing and potential customers through its WhatsApp platform.
Facebook’s Recent Challenges
Facebook, which lost approximately $200 million in market value in a single day in late July, is trying to recover from multiple blunders to its credibility beginning with the Cambridge Analytica scandal as well as follow-on PR blows involving sharing data with device makers and offering data sharing opportunities to major banks.
To make matters worse, California just passed its Consumer Privacy Act and the European Union recently implemented its GDPR privacy regulations. Both of these actions seem to be aimed squarely at Facebook’s apparent lack of concern about consumer privacy.
Facebook is Trying to Make WhatsApp into a Marketing Platform for Businesses
Given all of the recent negative publicity, it comes as no surprise that Facebook would be looking for ways to change the subject and increase revenue. It makes sense for Facebook to explore ways to generate revenue from its other popular properties including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
Facebook claims that it has 2.23 billion active users each month across all of its platforms and is continuing to see growth in Asia even as usage is beginning to flatten in the US. It makes sense for businesses to take advantage of the WhatsApp messaging platform because it is so popular (approximately active 20 million users in the US as well as 1.5 billion users and approximately 60 billion messages a day and growing). Inside the US, the Hispanic community makes up a significant portion of WhatsApp users.
Given this popularity, Facebook has been gradually updating WhatsApp by adding social media features such as the “Story” feature that is so popular on SnapChat and has also been recently added to Facebook and Instagram. In addition, according to a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism survey, WhatsApp is now a trusted source of news for many users.
In its announcement earlier this month, Facebook focused on how businesses could use the WhatsApp chat service to communicate with existing and potential customers.
According to Facebook, it introduced the “WhatsApp Business API to help businesses manage communications with existing and potential customers at scale.” The new API will allow businesses to send messages to people who initiate a chat with from a Facebook Ad as well as those who specifically request a business to send them information via WhatsApp.
US Businesses Should Not Overlook WhatsApp Opportunities
Based on its popularity, the WhatsApp chat service offers a great opportunity to businesses that are targeting the Hispanic community in the US as well as a potential goldmine for companies targeting customers outside of the US.
If the WhatsApp user base grows in the US, more businesses should pay attention and take advantage of this opportunity. Ultimately, if the new WhatsApp API takes off, it could also mean a much needed new revenue stream for Facebook.
Dan Goldstein is the president and owner of Page 1 Solutions, LLC, a full-service digital marketing agency offering SEO, Social Media, Content, Video and Online Paid Advertising services to law firms, doctors, and dentists throughout North America.