Ritu Jhajharia
Ritu Jhajharia 25 July 2016

What Does the Rise of Whatsapp Mean for Brands?

Marketers around the world have a new challenge in the form of social messaging apps like WhatsApp with their high user engagement. How marketers and brands look at this and what it means for the business?

“What’s up?”


A few years ago these words sort of replaced a good old hello! for generation X/Y and became a popular way to greet each other. No one could have imagined that this casual way of greeting would be adopted by a disruptive silicon valley startup to make one of the most popular and disruptive applications of its times. And certainly no one would have guessed that this mobile application would change the way we communicate with each other even before we know it. Yes, we’re talking about WhatsApp.

Rise of WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a prime example of what a good real tech disruption could be.The unprecedented rise of this simple mobile app since it was founded not so long ago in 2009, took the startup world by storm. It broke all the expectations and predictions of growth in no time and left data analysts gasping for what’s coming next.

What leaves the pundits truly dumbfounded is also the fact that such a seamless technology is managed by a small bunch of 55 young techies, led by founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both ex-Yahoo colleagues. With that small team, WhatsApp serves its top-notch instant messaging service to millions of people of every day.

WhatsApp has become indispensable to its users.

This simple infographic attempts to capture the incredible growth journey of WhatsApp and some key statistics. Though this data is slightly dated, yet it's a good representative of what an growth story it has been for WhatsApp, stuff dreams of startups are made of.

Image Source :,,


What does this rise of WhatsApp mean for brands?

“2016 will be the year of Conversational Commerce”

  • Chris Messina, Developer Experience Lead at Uber


Move aside Social Media, Conversational Commerce is the flavor of the season in 2016. To the uninitiated ones, the term was first coined by Chris Messina of Uber in the beginning of 2015 and he even tracked it with the hashtag #ConvComm. He gave prophetic insights into this trend much before Facebook Messenger and Uber came together to integrate seamlessly so as to enable the messaging app users in US to book his/her Uber ride without leaving it and even make transactions from within the app itself.

Conversational Commerce has become a reality now and is touted to be the next big disruption in the world of business with the unprecedented growth of social messaging app users on mobile. The mobile internet now accounts globally for more time spent online than the desktop and shows no signs of slowing down, according to eMarketer.

All the data in the world is pointing towards the undeniably significant role of mobile in the growth of internet commerce, and this growth being fueled by the rise of social messaging apps, WhatsApp leading the pack with its huge user base. You get the picture. So what does this rise of WhatsApp and its peers mean for brands and marketers?

“The phenomenal rise of WhatsApp and other social messaging apps means that marketers can’t afford to leave this new platform out of their brand strategy. Marketers around the world are busy figuring out the best possible ways to tap in this highly engaged audience on various social messaging apps without being intrusive to their experience. Take the example of Burberry and how innovatively it has used SnapChat to share behind-the-scenes of its fashion shows. Brands would need to such innovations to speak to their audience directly on this platform”, shares Puneet Kataria, Founder of Promoto, a SaaS based business dedicated to helps brands and businesses to convert their customers into promoters.

How does the future of Social Messaging look like?

Marketers are still largely waiting on tapping into social messaging platforms, especially WhatsApp. The in-app advertising is still not allowed on WhatsApp to keep the user experience intact and fuss-free. Infact, this is one of the biggest drivers of its phenomenal growth. In the beginning of this year, WhatsApp also removed its nominal annual subscription fees of $1, and became completely free for its users. It is speculated that WhatsApp did it in anticipation of growth of Conversational Commerce, as is evident from their press release:

Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today — through text messages and phone calls — so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.

With this move for WhatsApp and its continued heavy growth of Messenger, Facebook has clearly upped the ante and taken a strong stand in a world which is currently being ruled by smartphone revolution. What has unfolded so far is still just the beginning and the world is still just awakening to the power of the small screen in its hands.

Marketers around the world have new challenges facing them. It is going to be very interesting how this story unfolds and how brands write their stories using these new tools of human interactions.

Does this spell the end of social media as we know it?

What’s your take on it?

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