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What’s up with WhatsApp?

What’s up with WhatsApp?

by Aiden Carroll F IDM | Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, |
I used to tell students, in all sorts of different venues, that WhatsApp would be WeChat eventually. That the platform we all know and love will change, forever, for the better or the worse. Of course, that hasn’t quite happened yet, but we are on the verge of multifaceted messaging revolution – and the death of apps as a result. 

The fear of data sharing in this new fangled messaging optimised world is real of course – and the mainstream media is having a great time telling us why WhatsApp (and Facebook) are climbing in the proverbial data window in the middle of the night and making off with our precious information.

So, I thought to myself, I’d give them some form of comparative rebuttal. So, here’s why the evolution of WhatsApp both is and is not bad and/or good all at once. Schrodinger’s messenger as it was.

The “Good”

The Data Angle: Naturally, users who feel that some kind of promise has been broken view data sharing as a massive betrayal. That WhatsApp had simply committed itself to not evolving or monetizing when Facebook bought it. Users might be a little bit sad, but the good thing here is that they might just get a grip on the data that they do share, the services they do use – and become more conscious as a result.

The Marketing Angle: Marketers, and I hate to say I told you so – five years ago – are rushing to get stuck into a world where they can deliver any number of myriad communications to the dear user; receipts, shipping updates and urgent messages — for example, information about a delay to their upcoming flight. This is a good thing for marketers, and might be ok for consumers too.

The Evolution Angle: There’s now potential for WhatsApp to evolve into an all-in-one operating system like WeChat and Line. Here, we will be paying for taxis, dinners, peri-peri chicken and legal services all via one single point of contact. You can literally do everything you want on a given day using WeChat and only WeChat. I want WhatsApp to be like that.

The “Bad”

The Data Angle: It might be claimed that any relaxing of privacy regulation is definitely a bad thing. Therefore WhatsApp sharing with Facebook is a bad thing. It’s not like you’ve been doing exactly the same things with Facebook Messenger, as with WhatsApp now is it? Either way, your phone number is not safe.

The Marketing Angle: Marketers are, of course, falling over them selves about the new potential of WhatsApp for conversational commerce; it’s likely not going to be easy. Most brands haven’t gotten to grips with social; will they be any less creepy and narcissistic in a more private communications channel? I suspect not.

The Evolution Angle: It’s not evolution; it’s trying to copy WeChat and Line. The same WeChat and Line that we called poor chinese imitations a few years back.

The “Solution”

I like to be helpful, so whether you endorse either side of the coin, you have a way out. There are two main ways to save oneself from a skynetesque future.

1. Don’t accept the new terms, using the pop-up that will show itself when you open WhatsApp. Instead hit read more and untick the box that allows WhatsApp to share with Facebook

2. If you’ve already accepted the terms, you can still opt out – within 30 days. You’ll need to do the same as item one, but in the settings menu within the app

You are most welcome!

If you want to hear more from Aiden Carroll, check out our two-day Social Media: Strategy, Tools and Tactics course
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