A recent story published by Digiday about the popularity of the ‘WhatsApp’ sharing button on websites, and specifically on USA Today’s FTW sports site, is causing some concern for marketers. The WhatsUp app, which was purchased by Facebook earlier this year, is a private messenger app that allows its 500 million users to send and receive messages quickly and easily. According to reports, the user base sends as many as 50 billion private messages per day.
When the USA Today mobile site added the WhatsApp sharing button to their page, they found that a significant number of people were using it. According to the report, 18% of the site’s overall sharing came from this button, beating out Twitter which only got 13% (though still lower than email and Facebook which brought in 35 and 34 percent respectively).
So, why is this a concern? When people share pages through most social networks, they are published to their entire list of friends, or even made entirely public. This means the reach of each share is huge. With WhatsApp, however, the sharing can may be entirely private, and go to only a very few number of people. If people are clicking the WhatsApp button in place of Twitter or another social network’s button, it will mean fewer overall people will see the link to the story.
Of course, links that are shared privately like this will also have a greater likelihood of being clicked by the recipient, so marketers may see some benefit there.
It is too early to know for sure how this will affect social sharing in the future as a lot of data is still missing. Specifically, the WhatsApp buttondoesn’t work seamlessly with third party apps and the typical list of share button plug-ins. Also, it doesn’t work on Android devices.
Whatever the impact turns out to be, marketers will be wise to follow this closely to see how they can maximize any benefits from the huge, and active, WhatsApp community.
You can read the story about USA Today’s experience on Digiday HERE.