By Adam Fraser
I read an excellent article on WhatsApp in the Guardian this week. A comprehensive and deep dive in to what has driven the growth of this leading mobile messaging app.
I have talked previously about the growth in messaging platforms at the expense of “traditional” social media networks. The world seems to be moving to a world of 1:1 or 1:a few rather than 1:many or 1:public.
This article reaffirmed this trend and if anything showed the trend is gathering pace. The headline (“From Political Coups to family feuds: how WhatsApp became our favourite way to chat”) is a good summary of the breadth of use cases we have found for instant messaging.
The headline user numbers tell a story in themselves – WhatsApp has now passed a billion users and more messages are sent on whatsapp than traditional sms messaging. Its own press release at the time of the 1bn user announcement simply summarised the use case for Whatsapp:
“ensuring that anyone could stay in touch with family and friends anywhere on the planet, without costs or gimmicks standing in the way.”
The same principle applies to social media. The primary reason we use these platforms is to connect with friends, family and people we care about. As a secondary benefit, if it suits us we may also connect with brands while there, but we want this to be on our terms.
Natively mobile, Whatsapp is finding increasing uses in the business world, including push notifications, commerce and most notably customer service, a topic I discussed on a recent podcast.
As Whatsapp founder Jan Koum noted in the article
“In Asia, in particular, apps such as WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, are not just communications platforms any more, they are platforms for the delivery of content and services. Facebook Messenger is trying to go this way as well.”
While Facebook and Twitter remain broadly public forums which still have their place, the growth of private messaging amongst smaller groups is undeniable. The personalisation and intimacy offered to a consumer allied to the privacy preferred by brands when communicating with customers make this an increasingly important customer service and commerce channel. This will impact usage trends across each of sms, email and social media.