Whatsapp May Be Investing In A Community Feature. What Does It Mean For Marketers?

Recently, the XDA Developers portal identified mentions related to “Communities” in the internal files of the new Whatsapp’s Beta version.

Source: XDA Developers

Shortly after, the WABetaInfo website had access to screenshots that further reinforce the previous discovery:

Source: WAbetainfo

What’s up ahead? In this article, we’ll talk about what to expect from this mysterious new feature and how marketers can benefit from it in their marketing strategies.

After all, what is a community?

WABetaInfo shows that the new feature is about a new space where administrators would have greater powers over groups. 

While it is still difficult to provide many details of this new feature, according to the website, administrators will be able to send messages within this group chat, invite new users through links or QR Codes and create a collection of groups related to the community.

Source: WAbetainfo

Another point that got my attention was the format of the community icon. Likely used to provide a differentiation between groups and communities, it can be noted that the icon layout is square with rounded edges, different from the circular shape that exists today.

Why did Whatsapp decide to implement this new feature?

According to Statista, with more than 2 billion monthly users, Whatsapp is the main instant messaging platform in the world, followed by Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion) and Chinese WeChat (1.2 billion).

Source: Statista (2021)

However, so far, there has been a clear interest of the app in maintaining itself as a more private communication channel and not scaling it. In other words, Whatsapp hasn’t wanted big groups and or spam messages inside the platform.

By working on a Communities feature, WhatsApp may be trying to close the widening gap between it and other messaging apps like Telegram and Signal. 

A good example of this is the limit of 256 users per group that still exists on the WhatsApp, an extremely low number when compared to its competitor Telegram (up to 200,000 users per group) or Signal (up to 1,000 per group).

There are two other important factors that should be analyzed here.

In early 2021, WhatsApp’s new privacy policy caused controversy among users over what kind of data could be shared with the parent brand Facebook (now Meta), sparking a mass exodus to these other apps.

Another recent fact was the sudden downfall of the platform along with the entire network of Facebook apps last month. Telegram gained a whopping 70 million users in just a few hours.

Given such important data, the need for the platform to reinvent itself and propose new features while still retaining its sovereignty in the market is clear.

How can marketers benefit from this new Community feature?

The creation of communities, whether on Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook, among others, can bring several opportunities for your business:

Communities create a sense of belonging

Human beings have a deep desire for belonging.

A study published by Plos One showed that identifying people that belong to groups increases their sense of personal purpose, expands their perception and outlook on life, and consequently boosts their self-esteem.

Another series of studies conducted by Dr. Gregory Walton showed that belonging to a community with common interests and aspirations has direct consequences in our motivation, health, happiness, and our way of seeing the world.

Surveys like these help us understand why people are so fond of participating in communities on platforms such as Facebook Groups, Telegram Channels, and others.

Greater public interaction with your brand

Strengthening the bond between your company and your audience is important to any marketing strategy you are developing.

Here are some of the many benefits of community marketing for your business:

  • Increases the trust of your customers or prospects with your brand
  • Provides you with incredible data about your audience: their needs, desires and perceptions
  • Increased conversions in your marketing offers
  • Ability to identify improvements in your product or service
  • More open and transparent communication with the public
  • Improved feedback process.

Content deliverability

It’s not news anymore that social media algorithms are heavily decreasing the deliverability of content to its audience.

The official reason, according to several of the platforms, is that every day tons of content are shared and it’s necessary to show just the best for the users. But you know that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. get lots of money from ads, right?

This has led marketers to look for new and more efficient ways to deliver content.

Paid media, newsletters and communities on messaging platforms have become increasingly present in the marketing strategies of many companies.

The deliverability of content within platforms such as Telegram or Signal is vastly greater than any existing social network today. 

So it’s worth keeping an eye on this new feature that WhatsApp will offer, as it could be a huge turnaround in your marketing strategy as a whole.

Prepare yourself

As the largest messaging app in the world today, the mysterious new feature of Whatsapp may become not only an option, but also a trend within companies’ marketing strategies.

As the most used channel by people in their daily personal and professional conversations, the new functionality could bring a big change in the way people interact with their acquaintances, companies and people with common interests.

On the other hand, the growing popularity of platforms such as Telegram and Signal in the occidental world can be a threat to the sovereignty of this giant.

Now, we must wait and prepare for these changes.

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