Having been used as a free messaging and calling app for years, businesses are now considering how WhatsApp can be used to propel their marketing message forward. That said, with limited features and a hardcore focus on privacy, is WhatsApp a social media network or not? Let's find out.
Social media is defined as any type of online service or website that allows users to create and share content and connect and interact with other users in virtual communities or networks. Social media platforms are online tools that allow people to create and share information, ideas, and images with a wide network of connections. They serve a variety of functions, including business promotion and marketing, networking, and staying connected with friends and family.
When considering the somewhat strict premises of traditional social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, one can clearly see that WhatsApp, in fact, does not fall into the boundaries of “social networking”.
But does that mean that we can render the number one messaging app in the world useless for marketing? Not at all!
WhatsApp users are spread across every country, age group, and niche - which makes it incredibly easy to target your audience.
WhatsApp is free to use and you don't need to buy additional equipment or hire staff.
There are no specific rules or regulations for WhatsApp marketing. Whether it's setting up a WhatsApp business profile or cold-messaging prospective customers, everything’s game.
With WhatsApp, you can easily track how many people engage with your content, how many clicks through to your site, and how many buy.
WhatsApp is excellent for building a community around your brand. It's a great place for engaging with customers, answering questions, and providing regular updates.
One of the most rampant and useful website development trends is the usage of the WhatsApp icon within the website. A lot of businesses incorporate the clickable icon on their website, which, upon clicking, directs a client to a WhatsApp chat box.
It has a built-in poll feature, the ability to send large files, live video, and basic analytics. There are no WhatsApp marketing tools per se, but communication features can be used for marketing purposes.
Additionally, WhatsApp status is one of the most commonly used features, and Statista estimated its usage to be half a billion in 2019 alone. The status message on WhatsApp can be text, pictures or even videos to promote a product, service or even inform users.
A few local businesses indulge in the practice of reaching out to customers in their databases with promotional marketing messages on WhatsApp. Likewise, using the WhatsApp status feature, businesses also inform their customer base about the latest products and offers.
WhatsApp can be used for far more than just marketing. It's also a great tool for keeping in touch with colleagues, friends, and family.
As per the latest update, the platform can also be used to build communities.
WhatsApp is designed to be a simple messaging platform. As a result, it doesn't have all the functionality of other social media platforms, such as blogging and lead generation tools.
As mentioned above, WhatsApp is not specifically designed for marketing: In fact, an increasing number of businesses are being warned away from it due to its lack of effectiveness.
The interface of the app essentially ties back to its purpose, i.e. calls and messages only. Though recent additional features like stories have been incorporated, the circle in which WhatsApp users engage is still limited.
The biggest disadvantage of using WhatsApp for marketing is privacy. Unlike other social media platforms, WhatsApp doesn't make any money from advertising. As a result, it can't be as generous with its user data.
WhatsApp is great for connecting with a small group of people, but can be fairly difficult to scale up.
Let's take a look at how WhatsApp compares to other social media networks.
All social media platforms now have a mobile app. Social media marketing has enabled businesses to reach the majority of people without them ever needing to visit your website.
All social media platforms have their own way of encouraging users to interact. Some of the most popular methods include liking and sharing, commenting, and using hashtags.
All social media platforms have a specific demographic in mind when they are designed. This helps them provide a tailored experience for each group.
All social media platforms have unique designs and layouts. This can affect how users engage with the platform and could mean your content is not as effective.
Considering the multi-feature communicating approach that these hardcore social media networks could we really call them WhatsApp’s competitors?
While there are a few benefits to using WhatsApp for marketing, there are also many disadvantages. In fact, WhatsApp seems to be more of a marketing tool as opposed to a social media platform. This is because it lacks many of the features that are associated with social media, such as user engagement and demographics.
Therefore, in our opinion, WhatsApp is not a social media platform. That said, there are a few ways you can use WhatsApp to market your business.
You can create WhatsApp groups and use them as a forum to answer customer questions and provide helpful tips. Alternatively, you could create a WhatsApp news feed and use it to provide regular updates. You can also use it to connect with your team and boost morale.
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