Branded Blue Ticks: The Rise of Brands Communicating on WhatsApp
One of the easiest ways to ensure your business not only meets its targets but exceeds them is to be aware of the overarching global trends you can’t help being touched by, as well as the market specifics that give your brand extra local zing.
Now that we’re already into the second quarter of the year, it’s the perfect time to touch base on those trends and see whether we’re on par or if we’re veering far off course. And with SocialSamosa reporting that there will be an estimated 258.27 million social network users in India this year, of the 2.7 billion global social media users, this is a clear winner in refining your digital marketing focus.
More specifically, over and above the obvious trends of video marketing and augmented reality that you can’t help but see content about everywhere you turn your ever-distracted eye, Vijay Shenoy, AVP of Operations South at WATConsult, predicted that “AI-powered social customer care” would be one of the top digital marketing trends for India this year.
The rise in popularity of using AI to strengthen customer interaction is easy to understand as it means we are well and truly embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as we no longer rely on the flesh-and-bones people sitting in the call centre to respond to each and every digitally typed query on a customer brand’s website or complaint posted to their social media feeds. But instead of being viewed in isolation, Shenoy says messenger apps and chatbots need to be seen as elements of your brand’s overarching social media marketing strategy.
Welcome to WhatsApp Marketing
Linked to this, we also need to act on a snowballing shift away from the “sacred three” social media standard we’re used to, of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Sure, the icons for these platforms are everywhere and most of the digitally savvy world uses them for both their personal and business researching needs, if nothing else. But the sheer amount of technological innovation out there and constant drive towards simplicity means there’s also a rise of brands chatting away with consumers (yes that’s “chatting with”, not “talking to” or “broadcasting at” – an important distinction when considering how media distribution has changed) on one worldwide messenger app in particular: WhatsApp.
In fact, Digital Information World confirms that as per the latest statistics from January 2019, WhatsApp now has more users than Facebook Messenger.
But don’t worry, joining the pack doesn’t mean you need to add that our entire population of 258.27 million as contacts, only to send each one a generic marketing message. Gone are the days of small business owners – grocery stores and tailors in particular – using the app informally, through their personal WhatsApp accounts to communicate with their customers, says SocialBeat India. In fact, that model is the very antithesis of WhatsApp for Business in 2019.
Instead, the really smart brands are embracing the Whatsapp platform beyond the initial, emoji-filled personal chat messaging we’ve come to know it for and instead using it as a social customer service channel.After all, you can use WhatsApp to send and receive documents, and engage in private, secure conversations anytime, day or night. That’s the crux of doing business in 2019, because consumers definitely don’t want to be limited to call-centre hours.
Inc alsoreports that while many see it as a personal platform to keep in touch with family and friends, it’s not intrusive to communicate with consumers in this way. Proving this point, the recent Nielsen Facebook Messaging Survey revealed that a happy majority of 67 percent of mobile messaging app users are really open to using chat more for communicating with businesses over the next two years, with 53 percent saying they are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.
While the WhatsApp Business offering launched as a way to monetise the instant messaging service, it’s already proving popular as it offers a more personalised approach as well as reliable delivery information, with Twilio confirming the added benefit for brands of knowing what messages have been delivered and, ultimately, read.
In addition, Twilio confirms: “The WhatsApp Business API allows developers to build new experiences that reach even more people in even more parts of the world and result in even more effective customer engagements. With WhatsApp, companies can send appointment reminders, shipping alerts, order notifications, product demonstration videos, verification codes, boarding passes, and 2-way customer surveys and support messages.
It’s immediate, more personal, and international in reach. And it’s secured by the end-to-end encryption that makes WhatsApp so trusted. If employed correctly, WhatsApp messaging can take your business communications to a whole new level of engagement: private, real-time B2C conversations delivered on the world’s preferred messaging app.”
Netflix Further Disrupts the Industry
Gadgets360 predicts other Indian companies are likely to follow those digitally disruptive footsteps in switching from the traditional bulk SMS model – especially as smart phones continue their stratospheric aspect – in order to use WhatsApp to reach their customers anytime, anywhere.
Then there’s the fact that as of November 2018, India is officially WhatsApp’s largest market, due to reduced data costs and the infiltration of cheaper smart phones. That’s why it makes such sense for Netflix to have signed up as a WhatsApp Business test partner here in India.
Here’s how it’s putting the platform to good business use…
While Netflix is often touted as the ultimate disruptor of the 21stcentury, it’s by no means sitting on its laurels and basking in the glory of having officially disrupted the entertainment market when it effectively kicked Blockbuster to the business kerb once and for all.
Instead, Gadgets360 explains that Netflix has kept that hum of innovation going strong by testing WhatsApp customer communications both for recommendations from subscribers, as well as to supplement customer support through account messages served across the sub-continent.
3 Reasons to reinvent your social media marketing for 2019 with Whatsapp for Business
Follow these three tips if you’d also like to embrace the trend:
- Once your profile is set up, remember that you can create “quick reply” message templates to your customers’ frequently-asked questions as well as “thank you” responses for mobile orders. Customers can also process transactions through WhatsApp Pay – another India-first, which the Financial Times explains transfers funds in real-time. This means you’re effectively bringing your FAQ page as well as a digital point-of-sale touchpoint to live on the piece of technology customers most rely on – their mobile phones.
- That said, WhatsApp for Business is most intended as a way to keep in touch with existing customers and leads rather than as a bulk-promotional messaging service. That’s so the SMSing style of 2009, not WhatsApp for Business in 2019. SocialSamosa also warns that whileFacebook’s media integration with its business accounts means this cross-platform ad reach could redefine the lead generation industry, it’s also just a matter of time before Facebook starts monetising it, so make the most of it, before then!
- Last, and most important to the marketers among us – as technology progresses, so does every aspect of meeting business requirements. As such, an added bonus of WhatsApp for Business is that you can easily see how well your messages are performing. That’s right, it’s true conversation and conversion at your fingertips beyond actual responses through the basic statistics offered on messages delivered and messages opened, with more detailed statistics in the pipeline set to target specific messaging that works with your audience and see what to skip in future.
Ready, set, double tick!
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