whatsap logo on laoptop screen

June 23, 2022

Communicating directly with customers and clients can be a game-changer for product- and service-based businesses alike. 

If you use the messaging platform WhatsApp, you’re likely familiar with all the features that make it a user favorite. With encrypted messaging, international calling, and ease of use, WhatsApp is a great go-to choice for people all over the world who want to stay connected.

But did you know that WhatsApp has dedicated platforms for business, including a mobile app and a WhatsApp Business API for desktop? 

If you run a small business, you definitely need to know more about the WhatsApp Business platform and what it could do for your brand. Wondering if it’s right for you? Let’s jump right into it.

What is WhatsApp? 

WhatsApp is a suite of Facebook tools from the Meta universe. For personal users, WhatsApp is a private messaging app featuring the ability to call, send voice messages, and exchange encrypted texts between friends. Users can communicate with their favorite businesses via the app, too.

Aside from integrating with users’ phone numbers and making messaging easy and private, WhatsApp is particularly appealing because it allows international users to communicate with each other easily. People from all over the world can use WhatsApp to call one another, free of international calling fees. 

Users can send a variety of media through WhatsApp messaging–not just text. They can exchange pictures and videos, voice messages, files, and hyperlinks. It’s easy to see how a messaging app with so many capabilities would be appealing to businesses looking to grow through direct contact with their customers. 

WhatsApp for Business takes WhatsApp to the next level, opening up more possibilities for you to reach your audience directly. 

Why WhatsApp is Important for Businesses

WhatsApp has a tremendous worldwide user base, making it a fantastic place for businesses to find and connect with customers. According to research from Hootsuite, WhatsApp has 2 billion active monthly users. The number has ballooned since 2016, and with that growth trajectory, the trend could continue.

The number of active daily users on WhatsApp has jumped 4% since January of 2021, according to Statista. In contrast, other encrypted messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram experienced steep drops–in some cases, as drastic as 60%.In addition, Statista expects that users will increasingly adopt messaging apps through 2025, bringing the total number of users over a whopping 3.5 billion by then

As the globe’s most popular private messaging app, WhatsApp is wide-reaching. Its potential impact on business success can’t be overstated. You need to be where your audience is, and where there’s such a vast user base, it’s likely you’ll be able to connect your business with plenty of users here. 

There are already WhatsApp success stories for businesses that shed light on the potential benefits of adding the app to your social media strategy. For example, Swedish vodka brand Absolut organised an exclusive Argentinian party that required fans to use the app for access. Users had to text a fake doorman and talk him into sending them tickets via WhatsApp, and the campaign was a resounding success. You can read more about it here

Why You Need a Whatsapp Business Account 

On both WhatsApp accounts, business versus personal, messages are encrypted and security is top priority. While the personal app is convenient, it lacks some of the features that the business app provides. This is incredibly important if you want to maximise your communication with potential customers. 

Image source: App Store

The interfaces between WhatsApp Business and the personal app are similar, but WhatsApp for Business offers a number of features that the personal app doesn’t support. Let’s break them down: 

  • WhatsApp Business accounts allow organisations to gather data on their contacts to better personalise their experience on the platform 
  • Unlike the limited profile that WhatsApp personal users get, businesses using WhatsApp for business can add a logo, description, product listings, website link, and other pertinent information
  • WhatsApp Business users can automate replies to direct messages (such as away messages, automatic greetings, and rapid responses containing basic information), shortening user wait times for a reply 
  • Businesses get access to more detailed insights so they can measure how their messages are performing
  • In the business app, users can label customers within their contact list (there are up to 20 labels that you can colour-code and customise) 

If you’re not yet using WhatsApp Business, you’ll want to adopt it for your organisation. While the basic WhatsApp account can be useful, it pales in comparison to the business tools you’ll have access to otherwise. 

Is a WhatsApp Business Account Free?

Yes, WhatsApp for Business is free, just like their personal accounts. This is a great way for businesses to access a low-cost marketing tool to reach more shoppers and potential customers. All you need to get started is a business phone number that can receive calls and SMS messages.   

How to Create a WhatsApp Business Account 

Creating a WhatsApp for Business account is fairly straightforward. First, you’ll want to navigate over to the App Store or Google Play store to download the app, since it’s separate from the WhatsApp Messenger personal app.

If you’re an Apple user, navigate to the App Store and search for “WhatsApp Business.” Once it populates in your results list, click Get. The app will download to your device. 

When you open the app, you’ll see the following welcome screen: 

Once you click Agree & Continue on the initial screen, you’ll see a prompt to continue with your current phone number or register a different one. 

It’s important to understand that WhatsApp won’t let you use both the personal WhatsApp Messenger app and the WhatsApp Business app at the same time, with the same phone number. This could be inconvenient and potentially frustrating for users who have been using the personal app long-term. 

If you’ve already registered your personal phone number with WhatsApp Messenger, WhatsApp Business will ask you to migrate all your information, including messages and contacts, over to the WhatsApp Business account instead. You won’t be able to continue using WhatsApp Messenger after the migration. 

If you’re using the WhatsApp API, the same rule applies. You’ll need to migrate your business number over to the API from the app (you can’t use it in both places).

Landline numbers won’t work for WhatsApp for Business unless they can receive calls from all over the world. You must use a cellular number that’s able to receive calls and SMS messages. 

6 WhatsApp Best Practices for Businesses 

If you want to use WhatsApp for Business to its full potential in your business, then there are some best practices you’ll need to follow. Keep reading to get the most out of the app.  

1. Focus on Offering Support, Not Selling 

Customer support is a big deal among businesses leveraging WhatsApp. It’s a great place to interact directly with customers who may be having concerns or issues about products or services. By leveraging WhatsApp, you can talk them through various scenarios and offer help. 

Making sales shouldn’t necessarily be your primary goal for WhatsApp. By virtue of your presence and activity level on the app, you’re bound to close some sales and convert new customers. 

Customers remember brands that offer stellar support and quick responses to their concerns. Interacting with them in a receptive, gracious manner builds trust and brand loyalty over time. Stay focused on answering questions and interacting with your customer base, and sales will follow. 

2. Have Practices in Place to Respond Quickly & Consistently 

Don’t neglect to use the automated messaging capabilities built into WhatsApp Business here, either. Even dropping an automatic greeting to let your customers know you’ve received their message and will get back to them shortly is helpful. 

Whether you can respond in person immediately, they’ll feel acknowledged in the meantime. When customers are looking for rapid support, they’re more likely to feel satisfied with their experience if they don’t get radio silence in response. 

3. Make Sure Your Brand Voice Carries Over to WhatsApp 

Your brand voice should be consistent across all aspects of your digital identity, including your interactions with customers on WhatsApp. Plan ahead for how you want your brand to come across in WhatsApp messages, scripting wherever possible to help your team stick to the plan. 

Private messaging with your customers demands brand consistency, and it’s just as important as keeping a uniform brand identity on your website, your social media platforms, and all marketing collateral. Leave a lasting positive impression by keeping your voice consistent and familiar through WhatsApp. 

4. Set Up Template Messages 

WhatsApp allows users to set up template messages to quickly respond to customers. This is a feature you should definitely leverage. It’s a quick way for the app to help you shorten your time to respond while offering a quick, branded reply that keeps your customers satisfied in the short term.

Possible template messages on WhatsApp include: 

  • Special offers and discounts
  • Sales and promo messages
  • Recommended products 
  • Customer alerts and support 
  • Updates regarding accounts, payments, shipping, and more

5. Consider Running WhatsApp Business Ads 

Meta makes it possible to set up WhatsApp for Business ads to get more potential customers reaching out to you via WhatsApp. Running ads to drive traffic to your WhatsApp Business account could multiply your business’s reach and ultimately, your revenue. 

From the Facebook Ads Manager, you can create ads that feature a Call to Action prompting users to message you directly on WhatsApp. Once these ads are published, they’ll be live on Facebook so users can reach out to you if your ad catches their eye. 

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, check out the Facebook Ads Library. It’s a repository of all the ads that are running right now, so you can see how other brands are leveraging the platform. 

6. Sync Your WhatsApp with Facebook & Instagram

WhatsApp connects to other Meta tools, such as Facebook and Instagram. It’s easy to integrate the apps for a more seamless experience. 

The great thing about integrating your Meta apps with one another is that you’re opening up broader access to a wider customer base. Why not give your customers as many opportunities as possible to access your brand? 

Once you’ve set up your Instagram account to integrate with WhatsApp, your number will appear on your profile. That makes it easier for customers to reach out to you directly. 

Only creator and business accounts can access this feature, and it’s not available everywhere at this time. You’ll need to check your eligibility within your suite of apps.

Here’s how to connect your Instagram and WhatsApp accounts

  1. From your Instagram profile, tap the Edit Profile button.
  2. Navigate to Public Business Information. 
  3. Tap Contacts.
  4. Tap the option to add a WhatsApp Business Phone Number.
  5. From there, you can choose your number.
  6. Verify your account (you’ll get a confirmation code over SMS).

If you don’t have a WhatsApp account, Instagram will prompt you to create one as you go. Now, you should be good to go! 

Now, it’s time to add your WhatsApp for Business number to your Facebook page. It’s easy to do, so take a look: 

  1. From your WhatsApp Business home screen, tap Settings (for Android users, it’s “More Options”).
  2. Navigate to Business Tools, then tap Facebook & Instagram.
  3. From there, tap Facebook.
  4. Tapping the Continue button on the screen will take you directly to a Facebook login page, where you’ll enter your credentials and log in.
  5. Next, you’ll get a prompt screen to select which Facebook Page you want to integrate with WhatsApp Business.
  6. When you’ve chosen the correct Page, tap the Connect WhatsApp link.
  7. A button to contact you via WhatsApp should now appear on your Business Page on Facebook. 

After you’ve linked Facebook and Instagram to your WhatsApp Business account, you should see both accounts linked on your app’s screen. 

Final Thoughts 

WhatsApp for Business is a powerful tool for businesses that want to connect with their customers on a more personal level. With its ability to integrate with Facebook and Instagram–especially through paid ads on the Facebook Ads Manager–it’s possible to broaden your reach and really leverage that massive WhatsApp user base. 

Keep in mind that you’ll want to maintain your brand identity throughout your users’ experience, whether they’re using WhatsApp or interacting with your brand elsewhere on social. Staying abreast of the latest changes in trends and strategies on social media will help you use tools like WhatsApp to the fullest extent possible. 

Ready to step up your social media marketing game and take your brand’s online presence to the next level? Check out our Social Media Marketing Intensive Course today. 

About the author 

Jonathon Tanner

Jonathon Tanner is the Co-CEO of Social Media College, Australia's leading educator and trainer for social media.

He co-authored the Diploma of Social Media Marketing, the world's first and only Australian Government recognised course in social media marketing, delivered by 25 leading colleges and TAFEs across Australia, and articulating into several Bachelor programs at Australian Universities.

His deep expertise in social media spans content marketing, social media strategy, 15 different social media networks, paid social advertising, personal branding, email marketing, and social media conversion.

Jonathon has also co-founded several other businesses, as well as spending 12 years as a management consultant specialising in mergers & acquisitions for private equity firms, growth strategy, and operational improvement.

Jonathon holds a combined Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney.

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