While Facebook continues to add more and more users in its main app, the growth and influence of its secondary platforms also continues to rise. Of course, most are aware of the growth of Instagram - which is closing in on becoming the next billion-user platform - but less discussed is the expansion of WhatsApp, which could soon become a much more significant piece of the Facebook puzzle.
Indeed, as direct messaging continues to expand, Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp may soon be seen as its biggest masterstroke. While Messenger is more commonly known as the leader in Western markets, WhatsApp effectively rules everywhere else, giving Facebook messaging dominance in almost every market.
And while the adaptation of Messenger business is coming along slower than Facebook would have hoped, it is growing. Facebook recently reported that there are now over 300,000 active bots on Messenger, while over 8 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses each month - 4x the amount of messages exchanged since just last year.
WhatsApp too, is seeing similar signs – among the 60 billion messages being sent in the app every day, a significant number relate to business transactions, with over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil noting that WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their brands.
And now, WhatsApp may be on the verge of the next stage – with a changing of the guard at the company, sparked by the resignation of CEO Jan Koum, WhatsApp looks to be giving business tools more serious focus, with advanced features and tools now being rolled out.
Back in January, WhatsApp rolled out their new business app, a first significant step towards enabling direct commerce through the tool.
More recently, WhatsApp has introduced new group tools, aligning with Facebook’s broader focus on group communications, while their next big shift, reportedly, will be group video calling, similar to what was recently rolled out on Instagram.
Each of these is significant – and particularly so when you also consider that WhatsApp Status, the app’s own Snapchat Stories clone, now has 450 million daily active users.
That’s 150 million more than Instagram, which presents a huge opportunity. Match that with the 1.5 billion active users engaging on the platform every month, and it’s logical that Facebook would be looking to monetize the app sooner rather than later.
Reportedly, Koum opted to leave WhatsApp due to conflicts with Facebook management over the future of the app, specifically over data privacy and their business plans. With Facebook re-structuring its management team in the wake of Koum’s departure, you can expect to see activity around WhatsApp’s business tools ramp up significantly, and that could present a range of new options for brands, and new ways to expand into alternate markets.
While there are already plenty of social platform options to consider, the growth of WhatsApp is worth taking note of, and adding to your considerations for future development.