WhatsApp Is Getting Down to Business With Its New API

Click-to-WhatsApp buttons are also coming to Facebook ads

Availability of the WhatsApp Business API will be slowly expanded WhatsApp
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WhatsApp introduced an application-programming interface that allows businesses to manage conversations with users and gives users an easy way to start conversations with businesses.

The Facebook-owned messaging app also revealed that it has been testing Facebook ads that enable users to click to WhatsApp.

The process of getting businesses to engage people via WhatsApp, and vice versa, began with the rollout of the WhatsApp Business Android app in January, and WhatsApp said the app now has more than 3 million users.

The WhatsApp Business API enables businesses to send messages to people who initiate the exchange by clicking to chat with them or requesting information.

Similar to its “corporate sibling” at Facebook, Messenger Platform, businesses can use the new API to send customized notifications that contain content that is relevant to the conversation and non-promotional, with examples including shipping confirmations, appointment reminders and event tickets. WhatsApp said these messages will be charged at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery.

WhatsApp Business API can also be used to respond to questions or comments free-of-charge within a 24-hour period, with charges applying to messages sent more than 24 hours after the last response from the user.

Last December, Facebook added the ability for advertisers on its platform to include click-to-WhatsApp buttons on their organic posts, enabling users to contact advertisers via the messaging app, and the company said the feature will expand to ads on Facebook “over the coming weeks,” in most countries, via Ads Manager.

Users who click to WhatsApp from Facebook ads will be taken to prefilled chats on the messaging app, where they can contact those businesses.

And businesses will receive aggregated metrics in Ads Manager, including:

  • Conversations started: The number of conversations attributed to your Facebook ad campaign from people starting a new thread with you or messaging you for the first time in more than a week.
  • Messaging replies: The total number of messages that people sent to your business attributed to the ads you ran on Facebook.

Facebook added that the WhatsApp click-to-message feature can also be added to websites and Facebook pages.

Facebook said in a blog post that availability of the WhatsApp Business API will be “slowly” expanded, and interested businesses can sign up here, adding that it has been testing the API “for months,” and businesses already working with it include B2W, MakeMyTrip, Singapore Airlines, Uber and Wish.

Make My Trip using the WhatsApp Business API
WhatsApp

Zendesk using the WhatsApp Business API
WhatsApp

WhatsApp added in a separate blog post that it will work directly “with a few-hundred businesses and a select number of companies that specialize in managing customer communications” to bring more businesses onto its network, and it shared the following ways that people can now connect with businesses on WhatsApp:

  • Request helpful information: When you need a shipping confirmation or boarding pass, you can give your mobile number to a business on their website, on their app or in their store to send you information on WhatsApp.
  • Start a conversation: You may see a click-to-chat button on a website or Facebook ad to quickly message a business.
  • Get support: Some businesses may provide real-time support on WhatsApp to answer questions about their products or help you resolve an issue.

The messaging app also emphasized that users will continue to have full control over all messages they receive, with the fact that businesses pay to send certain messages working against clutter, adding that businesses can be blocked with one tap, and all messages are end-to-end encrypted.


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.