WhatsApp is kind of the last silent frontier. Silent as far as ‘no-ads’ goes, anyway. When Facebook purchased the messaging app a few years ago, WhatsApp users held their breath. It seemed only a matter of time before the social network giant turned that beautiful secure silence into a money-making machine.
Well, that day is here. Facebook announced today that it will try and monetize WhatsApp - but not through advertisements (not yet anyway). Instead, Facebook is going to work with large and small businesses to make contacting those companies simpler. Here’s how it’s all going to go down.
Reaching Out When You Need To
Trying to contact a company representative can be difficult. You might have to jump through hoops, go through some offshore customer service people, be told that those people can’t do anything, and then hunt down someone that can actually provide a solution to your problem. It’s tiring. It’s complex. It’s time-consuming. And who has the time?
This process might get a lot simpler through WhatsApp. Facebook plans to add a green logo next to WhatsApp verified business owners. With that green symbol, you will be able to reach out and directly chat with someone from a company through WhatsApp. This is the idea anyway. But will it be just another form of customer service? Will it be automated? Who will do the responding?
Facebook hasn’t listed or talked about the details yet. The company has only said that it will be simpler to contact corporations through WhatsApp. All of this is to begin within the next few months, so you should see an update through your WhatsApp app soon enough. So how will Facebook make money with this concept?
Facebook has told press that the company plans on charging businesses for this kind of direct customer contact, but not yet. First, Facebook has to see if it’s all going to work out. If customers will be able to find businesses easily, if those businesses will respond to WhatsApp requests and questions, and if companies have the manpower to field those questions.
Some companies could be bombarded by thousands of WhatsApp messages rather quickly. That might not be something that many companies want to take on.
Although Facebook has told press that the company does plan to monetize WhatsApp through business listings, there is no word yet on when this will all happen. Facebook has mentioned that the plans are in place to monetize WhatsApp but the details are not there yet. If I had to guess, though, I would estimate that this new plan will be in process starting during the holiday season or just prior - this is a popular time for customers to reach out to businesses, so this timeline would make sense.
For now, the WhatsApp that you know and love will remain ad free. Facebook also isn’t planning on populating the app with ads as of this writing. But you might see a new stream of revenue for the social company coming down the pipeline, which may or may not be the start of more monetizing to come.