According to X’s Diffusion of Innovation, when it comes to the adoption of innovation, there is a 68% difference between the Early Adopters and Laggards, and in small business that could mean the difference between an enterprise flourishing or going bankrupt. In this day and age any head start over competitors can mean a world of difference.
It’s no secret that social media has become an undeniable part of business today. Businesses simply cannot afford to not have a digital presence. Most businesses know this, and you’ll battle to find a (successful) company without a social presence of some sort, even if it’s just a Facebook page.
But one “social” platform that has been largely overlooked though, as a means to connect instantly and easily with customers, is WhatsApp – at least until now. In this digital age where everything is immediate and even more people want it to be that way, it makes little sense to not use the messaging platform as a tool for communication in your business.
In the majority of countries around the world, and no doubt in South Africa, WhatsApp is used as the primary instrument of communication between family, friends and even colleagues. So it’s safe to say that the time is right to for the platform to capatalise on this, in a better way. But we know what you’re thinking: how will you be able to separate your personal conversations from those that are meant for business? Well, you don’t. WhatsApp has released an entire new(ish) app specifically designed to cater to SMEs in this regard. And it’s called WhatsApp Business.
WhatsApp Business is the solution for small to medium businesses. Even though it’s been available on Android for just over a year now, it’s only recently been released in a number of countries on iOS, with a global roll out to follow. No word on when it will be available in SA yet, unfortunately, but it should be quite soon. Nevertheless, it’s undeniable to note the large impact that such a service would have in a country like South Africa.
At the F8 keynote event, held in May, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (who also bought the messaging app), announced that WhatsApp will be introducing adding Product Catalogues later this year that will be beneficial for small businesses or startups that do not have a presence on the web as yet.
For medium to large corporations, WhatsApp has something called WhatsApp API. This API lets brands tap in the code of WhatsApp itself, to get deeper insights and add to their own features and integrations. You can use the WhatsApp Business API to send customised notifications with relevant, non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets. This is however very much in a testing phase and is only available to a handful of corporations at the moment, but enterprises are able to sign up with a form if they do want to be considered for access.
GETTING STARTED WITH WHATSAPP BUSINESS, FOR YOUR BUSINESS
- Find and download the WhatsApp Business app in the Google Play store (only, for now)
- Open the app
- Register by using the cell phone number you want associated with your WhatsApp Business app, as long as you own the number and it is able to receive calls, meaning it could even be a landline. As long as the number is not already registered on WhatsApp.
- Verify the OTP sent or called to the number
- Continue setting up the app
- On the “Create your profile” page, enter the business’ name and select the category of your business.
What you’ll see next is completely different from what you’d normally find when setting up WhatsApp.
- The next thing the app will ask is to describe your business on the “home page”. Enter your business address and enter a business description.
- After that it will ask you to enter your business hours which you can set to our normal trading hours, “by appointment only” or even “open 24 hours”. The app has a very convenient way of simplifying this process as well.
- Next you can put in your email and website URL if you have one.
Once you are set up, you can view your business profile in Settings, and you’ll be able to find all of your information right there – just as your customers or clients would when they look at your profile.
Other features that are available on the app:
- A business profile that allows publicly visible profile information about your business, like your email address, location, a description, website, and trading hours.
- Basic analytics reports about account activity such as number of messages sent, delivered, read and received.
- Colour coded labels assigned to active chats to keep it organised.
- A default greeting message for customers that initiate chats.
- Away messages for when you know you’ll not be able to be online or respond timely.
- Quick replies to FAQs by mean of shortcuts.
Small business can simply not afford to miss out on the new way of connecting with your clientele, easily, affordably and most important, personally. Avoid being a late adopter, or even a laggard. If you own a small business, get WhatsApp Business today.