We all know WhatsApp as an app for private individuals, but parent company Facebook expands its business model: from now on there is WhatsApp Business, the company version.
WhatsApp Business: Not for everyone…yet
Ok, first of all, I have to disappoint you: WhatsApp Business is not yet available for Dutch or Spanish companies, but this is planned. The service was first launched 2 weeks ago just for the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Italy and Indonesia. The service will add new countries in the coming weeks, probably including the Netherlands. Strikingly, WhatsApp Business kicks off with an Android app, the date of the launch of the iPhone app is not yet known.
What can you do with this as an entrepreneur?
However, in order to be able to anticipate what is going to happen, we will give you the specs here: what can you do with WhatsApp Business? First of all something about the regular variant of WhatsApp. It is set up for private users who want to send each other messages, videos and photos. Various tools make it easier to use WhatsApp for business purposes, but it does not work perfectly. For example, you can not use a (company) account on multiple smartphones. This means you can not let a social media team work collectively with WhatsApp. This way you will continue to have that one WhatsApp employee in your company.
With WhatsApp Business this becomes possible, allowing WhatsApp to play a more prominent role for companies. Remarkable: while Facebook recently announced that it wants to display fewer posts from companies in the timeline, WhatsApp is choosing a new – separate – service for companies.
But WhatsApp Business has more to offer
Another useful feature of WhatsApp’s new service is that you can set up automatic answers, for example for questions that are regularly reviewed (FAQ’s). Or automatic welcome messages or an absence notification. This way, you as an entrepreneur spend less time on social media and so you have more time for what really matters. As a company you also get your own profile page, just like – indeed – Facebook! On that page, you can place the usual information: when your company is open, what your location is and what you stand for (yeah that looks like Google Business). WhatsApp even sends out more powerful companies with a tick, just like Twitter. There is also a data section at the new WhatsApp service. After all, as a company, you want to know what success the social media traffic is generating.
WhatsApp Business provides statistics on the number of read messages and response times. For a better overview in the message menu, you can assign chats a label, such as ‘Prospect’, ‘New order’ or ‘Paid’. Companies can share their account with multiple employees. For the sake of completeness: as a company, you can only contact people who have shared their telephone number and have agreed to receive notifications from your company.
KLM as a customer
A lot can be expected from WhatsApp Business. A large Dutch airline corporate like KLM has already indicated that it wants to work with the service as soon as it becomes available. KLM wants to use it for customer service, but also for sending travel documents. A piece of futurism. From a journalistic perspective, it is also interesting to keep an eye on WhatsApp Business in the coming period. Once again: while Facebook is focusing its business model more on individuals, the WhatsApp subsidiary goes out towards business. Will this have purely positive effects on WhatsApp, or will it primarily ensure that users, who usually do not like social media companies, turn to competitors like Telegram? Time will tell.
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