Following its 19 billion-dollar acquisition by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp has so far held onto its no-advertising policy , focusing instead on steadily growing its user base. Now, with its user base approaching the milestone of one billion global users, WhatsApp seems finally ready to develop some business-friendly features, starting with testing business accounts which brands can use to connect with customers right in the popular messaging app. The app will also drop the $0.99 yearly subscription fee it charges users after the first year, which underscores the company’s shift in monetization focus and will decrease friction for users and help maximize growth.
What Brands Need To Do
Facebook has been making great progress in making its Messenger app more useful and brand-friendly, with one of the most successful use cases so far being helping brands, such as Hyatt Hotels, to provide customer service via messaging. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Facebook is bringing similar features to WhatsApp.
Although it seems unlikely that Facebook would be drastically revamping WhatsApp to add advertisements or third-party app integration any time soon, the announcement signifies the opportunities to come for brands to connect with WhatsApp’s predominantly international audience. Therefore, brands with a heavy dependence on international markets need to recalibrate their mobile communications strategies and take WhatsApp into consideration.