Today, at our office, we had an interesting brown-bag presentation on how we can increase constituent engagement with WhatsApp, which I think is worth sharing on this blog.
We are a part of one billion users who send and receive messages with Whatsup daily. But, what makes it the second largest messaging Apps globally, the first being Facebook messenger? Some of the reasons are trust, cheap, low bandwidth, more secure with an end-to-end encryption (that means your messages are safe and not displayed to others but only by the person you sent). Also, it provides Group chat with a limit of about 256 Whatsapp Members.
Indeed, WhatsApp is the number one source of news in several countries, and for the same reason, the most blocked messaging apps in many countries for example in large parts of China, Dubai, Brazil.
According to Freedom in the New 2016 report by Freedom House, WhatsApp faced the most restrictions, with 12 out of 65 countries blocking the entire service or disabling certain features, affecting millions of its one billion users worldwide.
The interesting part of today’s conversation was increasing constituent engagement using WhatsApp. Praekelt Foundation, a non-profit organization that uses technology for social impact, has partnered with WhatsApp to use the Whatsapp Enterprise Solution to engage with mothers on the South African Department of Health’s MomConnect platform. According to Praekelt.org, there has been an overwhelming response from mothers since they kicked off the Whatsapp pilot. The 1% of MomConnect subscribers using WhatsApp are now generating more than 50% of the platform’s HelpDesk queries. Moreover, South Africa has a $1/month unlimited WhatsApp subscription which is replacing SMS. Through this pilot, individuals have shown six times more likely to respond via WhatsApp than SMS.
Likewise, WhatsApp for business is helping small businesses by providing them with options that will make reaching out to customers a lot easier and help them grow their business. In countries like India where small businesses are run through WhatsApp will likely to benefit largely from this new Apps.
I am not saying WhatsApp is the most convenient tool for communications as there are other tools like Signal, Telegram, WeChat, Line, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber and so on. The popularity of each tool differs with countries and users requirements, and associated pros and cons within each tool. But, what I am interested to know is -how can we use this tools to improve our communication with the target populations/ project beneficiaries so as to create maximum positive social impact.
As we are going ahead in the digital world, it is very crucial to come up with better communication strategy, and we no longer can rely on the traditional communication methods and tools for project outreach activities.