As part of its continued efforts to develop monetization tools for WhatsApp, Facebook has today announced some new updates for its WhatsApp Business API that will help facilitate a broader set of brand use cases.
First off, Facebook says that it's adding new messaging response options into the WhatsApp API system, opening up more opportunities for connection.
As explained by WhatsApp:
"For example, businesses were often limited to sending timely notifications, which made it difficult to follow up with customers outside of a 24-hour window. So now we’ll support more types of messages - to let people know when an item is back in stock, for example. We’ve also seen how periodic updates from health authorities about responding to the pandemic have been helpful and we want to make this kind of service available for more types of conversations."
As part of its anti-spam efforts, Facebook has limited the amount of messages that brands can send, because spam in your messaging inbox is significantly more intrusive than mistargeted ads in your feed. But now, Facebook is looking to loosen its grip in this respect, which could open WhatsApp up to more abuse, but will also facilitate more connection and awareness opportunities, which could help boost business potential.
Whether that ends up being of benefit for WhatsApp users, we'll have to wait and see, but they can always cut off access to those businesses that don't respect their messaging access.
In addition to this, WhatsApp's also adding new, quick response messaging features for brands, to help guide relevant response:
"New list messages present a menu of up to 10 options so people no longer need to type out a response. Reply buttons will allow people to quickly make a selection from up to three options with just a quick tap that a business can set ahead of time through their WhatsApp Business API account."
Facebook has offered similar tools on Messenger for some time, and now, brands on WhatsApp will also be able to use these messaging prompts to streamline connection.
WhatsApp's also looking to streamline the business connection process, by reducing the approval turnaround time for businesses looking to establish a business account.
These could be handy enhancements for brands on WhatsApp, and given it's the most used messaging app in the world, facilitating connection to over 2 billion users, it's definitely worth considering for those looking to expand their business connection options, and link in to new audiences.
Facebook is specifically working to build WhatsApp as a business platform in India, the home of the app's largest, single-nation user base (459 million users). That effort has run into various challenges, but as it continues to enhance its tools, its also looking to provide more ways for businesses in India to increase their reliance on the app as a business platform, which could make it the essential connector in the emerging tech region.
That could play a big role in the company's future growth plans, and as such, it's important for Facebook to get these tools and enhancements right, respecting the privacy focus of WhatsApp connection, while also making it easier for businesses to conduct operations in the app.
There are some difficult balances to maintain within this, but these new tools are another small step towards building WhatsApp as a key business platform.