Is WhatsApp Shifting From Messaging to Social Media?

Photo Credit: @elanaloo

Facebook Inc. made major moves last month with the release of several app updates. Instagram shocked the industry with their multiple post feature, but before that WhatsApp changed the game with a Status update. The latest change allows WhatsApp users to document moments of their day through photos and videos, and post to their Status, which disappears in 24 hours. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The Status feature is an Instagram/Snapchat Stories look-a-like that has marketer’s wondering what Facebook Inc. is up to. Is WhatsApp transitioning from a messaging app to a social media platform?

How does it work?

If you’re a regular Snapchat and Instagram Stories user, you’ll have no problem adjusting to the WhatsApp status feature. Click on the Status tab on your homepage, take a picture or video, edit it to your liking and post for your contacts to see. The only missing feature is filters, and we won’t be surprised if that pops up in the next update.

What does WhatsApp Status mean for marketing?

The popular messaging app has introduced a new way for brands to share content with potential and loyal customers. It’s no secret that video is the most popular form of content, but Snapchat and Instagram Stories appeal to a very specific demographic, with mostly millennial users. With access to WhatsApp’s one billion users, businesses have a new platform to reach a more diverse audience through video.

Is marketing on WhatsApp still considered dark social?

It most certainly is. Contributing editor for The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal introduced dark social as the sharing of content platforms that aren‘t easily traceable on most Web analytic programs.

Many brands have used dark social to promote products and events on messaging apps. However, this method is only effective with creative, impactful campaigns that command attention. Absolut Vodka, for example, invited consumers to convince their ‘virtual bouncer” to provide free entry to their product launch party using WhatsApp. The campaign resulted in over 600 contacts and over 1000 media files sent in by users.

While it’s still difficult for us to track traffic originating from WhatsApp, with the direction that Facebook is heading in, we can’t help but wonder if this will soon change. The new feature presents an opportunity for advertisers to jump in with full-screen ads in between Statuses, just like Instagram and Snapchat. But will WhatsApp allow paid advertising? We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we can put on our creative hats and capitalize on WhatsApp’s Status feature to reach our audiences before Facebook Inc. starts capitalizing on us.

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KWSM is a digital marketing agency made up of brand journalists. We specialize branding, positioning and ongoing marketing execution in order to generate leads. Our offices are located in Orange County, CA, San Diego, CA, Las Vegas, NV and Atlanta, GA, but we serve clients all over the country. Read More