12th May 2016

Publishers implement WhatsApp strategy

A number of publishers are attempting to work with messaging platform WhatsApp.


Online messaging platform WhatsApp is being explored by four publishers.

The mobile app allows users to send encrypted messages to each other, with or without sharing mobile numbers.

Tom Ollerton, innovation director at We Are Social, said: “For a publisher there’s something compelling about the newness of it that makes it forgivable for one of their stories to appear on your WhatsApp feed. So far, it’s uncrowded.”

As not many publishers are using WhatsApp, it gives those first to the plate a distinct advantage.

Despite the possibilities for WhatsApp, the app is primarily designed for social chatting rather than news broadcasting.

This has meant that publishers have found that the app is not easy to work with.

For example, in order for publishers to subscribe users to their feed, they must manually add each new user to a Broadcast List.

Each list can only hold 256 users, so to reach a broad range of people, publishers will have to create multiple Broadcast Lists.

Despite this difficulty, it is an attractive platform to publishers: WhatsApp has a billion monthly users.

This means that WhatsApp has more users than Facebook Messenger (900 million).

Vogue, the BBC, the Financial Times, and the Guardian are all early adopters of WhatsApp as a platform.

Publishers are using WhatsApp to gain insight and opinions from users, particularly millennials.

“What’s interesting is the quality and tenor of what people say to you. They feel it’s more private and so share really interesting nuggets, often a stream of very short messages, which can be hard to decipher. We have to shift how we handle user-generated content in this context; it’s not a beautifully written 300-word extract we can slot in.” said Laura Oliver, head of social and community at The Guardian.

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