Meta has revealed that WhatsApp Business, the arm of the social messaging app designed for use by businesses, has just surpassed 200M monthly active users (MAUs). This signals a four fold growth in users since the service began shortly after the pandemic broke out back in 2020.
The good news comes amid the tech giant’s “year of efficiency” as it works its way through thousands of job cuts and a costly restructuring job to the tune of $5 billion to navigate away from its largely failed foray into the metaverse.
But what’s next for the world’s most loved social messaging app? And what new features can businesses get excited about using to communicate with users?
New Features Roll out for WhatsApp Small Business Users
Earlier this month, WhatsApp rolled out its new channels feature enabling small businesses to send one-way announcement-style broadcast messages to groups in a similar fashion to how companies use other apps, such as Telegram, to post news and build communities.
Now, Meta has announced more features including click-to-WhatsApp ads that can be placed across Facebook and Instagram. This means sellers can now create and publish ads to Meta’s other two social apps directly from within WhatsApp Business.
This latest feature complements WhatsApp channels, enabling small businesses (which WhatsApp Business is primarily geared towards) to further integrate the social messaging app into their sales and marketing activities.
Other upcoming features include automated personalized messages and customer segmentation, for example sending new customers discount codes with “buy now” links.
Meta Focuses on WhatsApp Business for Revenue Generation
Ad sales, to the tune of $114 billion in 2022, have traditionally been the source of Meta’s revenue (over 97% of total revenue in ‘22). Primarily this has come from ads on its two flagship platforms, Facebook and Instagram. Generating revenue in this way is something Meta shares closely in common with the other tech giants.
But as Meta looks for new revenue streams, it’s steadied its gaze on revenue earned through paid messaging via WhatsApp Business. This shift commenced in February when the company announced a change to the pricing model and the messaging categories to include utility, authentication, marketing, and user-initiated conversations.
Following these changes, the latest raft of new features for businesses is set to expand on Meta’s plans for WhatsApp Business. Indeed, during Meta’s 2022 Q3 earnings call Zuckerberg mentioned that click-to-WhatsApp ads exceeded the annual revenue run rate of $1.5 billion, showing a year-on-year growth rate of 80%.
“I shared last quarter that click-to-message ads reached a $10 billion revenue run rate. And since then, the number of businesses using our other business messaging service—paid messaging on WhatsApp—has grown by 40% quarter-over-quarter.” — Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta
This announcement was significant because Meta doesn’t usually declare WhatsApp revenue separately. But, in 2023 Q1, the company announced the business arm of the social messaging app had strong growth in messaging revenue, suggesting we’ll see more of this to come.
What’s Next for WhatsApp Business?
Zuckerberg has poured billions of dollars into attempting to develop a metaverse. As he tried to lay claim to the trending and nebulous web3 world, Meta has had to look for ways to offset the revenue gap. This included ramping up WhatsApp, which has been free for users since Meta purchased it back in 2014.
This comes hot off the heels of Meta’s recent challenges with the $80 billion write-off following its foray into the metaverse and the ensuing 21,000 staff laid off over the last six months.
In the wake of these challenges, it seems that Meta is working tirelessly to bounce back as it focuses development on the world’s favorite social messaging app and its breakthrough and continued introduction to the B2B sector.
Around the globe, WhatsApp has introduced business payments to the platform. In Brazil, customers can now pay merchants directly from the app with a similar payment function also rolled out in Singapore.
Looking ahead, Meta has revealed the first AI tools for WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram this month, such as ChatGPT-esque bot conversations, to incorporate the big tech firm’s proprietary AI tools into its products.