WhatsApp's Marketing Message
WhatsApp has membership and usage numbers that can humble a platform of Twitter's size. Globally, mobile carriers process about 21 Billion SMS messages a day compared to WhatsApp's 50 billion messages. The number of marketing people used to achieve these results is zero. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp yesterday Mark Zuckerberg used a wall post to acknowledge the unique value proposition of WhatsApp and to welcome it as an independent member of a rapidly growing number of Facebook owned brands that will make it harder than ever to avoid using the world's largest social network.
WhatsApp has scaled effortlessly because it offers a much cheaper mobile messaging alternative, particularly outside of the United States where SMS is often unlimited. The Digits blog explained WhatsApp's appeal through the perspective of an addicted user; the ability to seamlessly communicate with users around the world without caring about their carrier restrictions and a very un-Facebook like experience of sharing private communications without fear that the entire family and office will see them. WhatsApp has also always had a legendary aversion to advertising. While it has the appearance of a simple SMS alternative it also offers a number of features that improve the experience.
There is a din of blog posts speculating on why Facebook paid so much and what it means for their future. Mobile researcher OnDevice has a SlideShare showing the extent of the threat that WhatsApp posed to Facebook's goal of keeping people connected across the world (including the sharing of images). The blog All Facebook summarized the most prevalent meme -- the sheer numbers and geography of WhatsApp users provide Facebook with improved growth prospects and user data. Hopefully, users who send a private message about getting away for the weekend won't be retargeted with travel ads on Facebook.com. But they could. Meanwhile, BGR provided one of the few negative notes with examples of a lack of user loyalty to messaging apps. International users frequently have multiple messaging apps on their phones and can be swayed easily. So perhaps, a big change to look for would be the hiring of the first WhatsApp marketing staffer.