Did you know WhatsApp is about to undergo a big revamp?
WhatsApp Business is finally here...and it will bring some significant differences to everyone's favourite method of contact in 2017.
There has been talk of more advertising and business features on the popular messaging app ever since Facebook bought it back in 2014 for $21.8 billion but now, 3 years later, it seems some massive changes are on the very near horizon.
So what will they mean for you, both as a business and as a regular user? Read on to find out.
WhatApp usage has now soared to over 1 billion daily users - and 1.3 billion monthly users (from Tech Crunch) - which demonstrates just how extensively it has cemented itself as a part of users' lives with over 75% using it daily.
55 billion messages are sent every day; including 4.5 billion photos and 1 billion videos.
Makes your little work group or the one you've got with 6 of your friends that you get 20 messages a day from seem fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it?!
The COO of WhatsApp, Matt Idema, had this to say earlier this year about the new WhatsApp Business plans: “We want to put a basic foundation in place to allow people to message businesses and for them to get the responses that they want."
As any businesses who use Facebook these days will already be well aware of, this facility will unsurprisingly come with a price tag attached, as Idema added: “We do intend on charging businesses in the future.”
For the first time, users will be able to register via a landline number rather than just a mobile - meaning customers will be able to message businesses direct from their website as well as communicate within WhatsApp instead of sending emails, contact forms or Facebook messages.
It will also save business users having to communicate with customers on WhatsApp via personal numbers, as they have to at present.
WhatsApp Business will come as a separate app but look almost identical to the 'regular' version, except for the ability to view and change Statistics and Business Settings in the main 'Settings' menu.
Here's a quick rundown on each:
Here you will be able to add your business details like website address, opening hours, a profile picture and more to customise your business's profile page, as well as adding an out-of-hours auto-response (sound familiar, Facebook users?).
Oh, and there's also the now par for the course 'verified/unverified' tick.
This section will no doubt grow with the platform, but initially it sounds fairly underwhelming as you'll just be able to see things like total messages sent, received, delivered and read - nothing too earth-shattering, yet.
What else can customers expect when the new WhatsApp finally rolls out?
You will also be able to book things and place orders using it as well as receiving updates on things like flight information and delivery times for items you've ordered.
(on some mobile phone browsers you will need to click here)
Adverts haven't been mentioned so far, although if their Facebook owners can generate enough money from the Business version that might keep them happy for a while...
...but if not then you can bet that's something else that will be coming to a WhatsApp screen near you.
WhatsApp Business is not available to everyone yet but is apparently being tested in some parts of Europe, Brazil and India.
If you really can't wait a few months and want to be one of the first to test it out though, you can apply here...
So now you know a bit more about it, what do you think, does WhatsApp Business sound like something that would be useful to you?
Gil is a Digital Marketing Consultant specialising in social media marketing and Facebook Ads. He has worked in sales, marketing and business management for over 12 years and has been on WhatsApp since around 2011, back when people still had to pay for text messages and the app was sent from the Gods. Otherwise, he might still be paying 5p per text or trying to avoid exceeding his 100 texts a month limit. You can find Gil on LinkedIn here