On April 4, messaging service WhatsApp officially rolled out its business application on Apple’s iOS in the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Germany. WhatsApp Business allows small businesses to establish profiles on the platform that facilitate communication with consumers.
Notably, the service lets companies set up away greetings, quick replies, away messages, and contact labels. As such, it functions as a kind of entry-level customer relationship management (CRM) software.
WhatsApp launched its business spin-off in January 2018, but it was only available on Android. The firm introduced desktop accessibility for the program earlier this year. Nevertheless, the application has been quite successful. The company announced that it now has 5 million business customers.
A Monetized Social Network
The wide release of WhatsApp Business is the latest step in parent company Facebook’s attempts to monetize the platform. In August 2018, the application began letting businesses purchase advertisements on the platform.
WhatsApp’s ads usher customers into conversations with brands at a click. The WhatsApp Business API also allows for document sharing and automated bulk messaging.
When a business receives a message from a customer, they can reply for free for 24 hours. After that, companies have to pay a nominal region specific fee to continue the conversation. WhatsApp Business’ services are apparently quite popular. Forbes estimates the application adds $5 billion a year to Facebook’s coffers.
Admittedly, WhatsApp only represents a small segment of the tech giant’s overall business, which generated $55.83 billion in revenue last year. However, the messaging application represents a significant opportunity for the social networking company.
For one thing, the app’s CRM functionality holds a lot of appeal for microbusinesses that don’t have the capital for more robust tools. Moreover, mobile devices are increasingly becoming the default way the world accesses the internet. As such, WhatsApp offers its 1.5 billion users an easy way to kick start their entrepreneurial ideas.
Additionally, the platform’s clear-cut, noninvasive revenue model is considerably cleaner than the other ways its parent company makes money. WhatsApp offers the social media conglomerate a way to emerge from the fog of scandals and recriminations it’s currently lost in.
The Next Iteration of Social Media
It should be noted, WhatsApp isn’t the only Facebook subsidiary that’s aggressively moving to become more profitable. In 2018, Instagram unveiled IGTV, a video sharing hub the company hopes will become the next YouTube. Moreover, financial analysts believe Instagram advertisement business is a key driver for Facebook’s income.
Indeed, the Silicon Valley giant stands to earn untold billions if it can convince consumers and businesses to pay for organized instant communication. However, Facebook will have to tread lightly if it is to bring about the next iteration of social media. If the public abandons Facebook and its subsidiaries because of its corporate malfeasance, the conglomerate’s rebirth will never happen.
Similarly, if the corporation makes its brands too commercial, it risks alienating its 2+ billion global users. Time will tell if Zuckerberg and company have learned the value of prudent decision-making.