WhatsApp Adds New Visual Tools, Expanding the App's Use-Case
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is launching a new set of visual enhancement features today, as it looks to broaden its use-case and expand it's potential.
As reported by TechCrunch, WhatsApp is adding image filters, reply shortcuts (which enable more efficient responses to specific messages in-stream), and albums (which group photos and videos into a new tile layout).
The features are not necessarily revolutionary by comparison to what's on offer within other social platforms, but as noted, the aim is to expand the use case for WhatsApp beyond simple messaging, which will eventually enable Facebook to better monetize the app's 1.2 billion users.
And the expansion of WhatsApp's functionality also provides another important tool for Facebook to fend off competition.
A key element of Facebook's strategy to reduce the influence of Snapchat - and one which is a little less obvious than blatant duplication - is their effort to restrict the global reach of Snapchat by launching similar features in foreign markets before Snapchat has had a chance to do so themselves.
Essentially, Facebook's using its massive audience share to bring features like Stories and video masks to the masses first - and as Facebook's offerings get better and better on this front, those efforts could eventually quell Snapchat before it's even had a chance to reach these regions.
Of course, Facebook's reach is unmatched, through Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, but Zuckerberg's real trump card in this effort is actually WhatsApp, and here's why:
As you can see, WhatsApp is hugely popular in almost every market where Messenger isn't, which gives Facebook an even broader captive audience than many realize.
This is why these new additions to WhatsApp are essential - yes, they're relatively minor in isolation, or in comparison to other platforms, but it's about evolving user behaviors, getting users in these regions to see WhatsApp as more than just a messaging app. Now, it's also the place to share photos, to share videos, to share filters and video masks.
Each new element adds more to the WhatsApp experience, and gives Facebook increased traction and market share - which, as noted, could eventually mean that if Snapchat does get around to making a push in these markets, no one's going to bother switching across, as they'll already be able to do it all on their existing app of choice.
This is a key trend to note, particularly for those brands looking to reach users in WhatsApp-dominated markets, while it's also worth noting too that eventually, Facebook will likely integrate WhatsApp ads and business options into their other offerings.
In recent months, Facebook has been working to further integrate Facebook and Instagram business options into a single platform, making it easier to manage and place ads across the two in one place.
It won't be long till WhatsApp is also on that list, expanding market potential and giving businesses new ways to connect.
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