Forget iMessage, WhatsApp, the messaging app owned by FaceBook, is literally everywhere in Latin America. It’s not [much of] an exaggeration to say it’s the lifeblood of the region. Sometimes it’s a love-hate relationship, as testified to in the numerous jokes and memes about those all too telling double blue check marks.
While WhatsApp has its share of users in the United States, its popularity overseas is where the lion’s share of activity is happening. If fact, it’s the third most downloaded app in the world according to Business Insider.
Here in Colombia, where Press 2 is based, the app permeates all aspects of life. Both personal and professional. Businesses advertise their services and sell their goods over the app. They use it to communicate with customers and keep them connected to their brands. WhatsApp is arguably much more important to a business in Latin America than an online store.
What makes this app so popular in Latin America?
One reason that WhatsApp is more popular in Latin America is that the iPhone isn’t as dominant as it is in the U.S. With people using myriad mobile platforms and carriers, WhatsApp transcends reliance on hardware-specific products or international restrictions by local carriers. Also, it’s free, which means the barrier to adoption is much lower than apps like iMessage. WhatsApp works on any smartphone, not just the circa $1,000 iPhone models.
Up until March of this year, WhatsApp Business (which makes it even easier for businesses to communicate with their customers) was only available on Android. With a worldwide rollout to Apple’s iOS, WhatsApp Business is available to millions of more users, particularly in the U.S.
So is it time for you to consider using WhatsApp Business for your Latin America operations?
There’s really not much downside to employing the app in your Latin America communications channels. It’s free and easy to use, meaning it will create a familiar and comfortable means of communication for your audience without cost and with minimal effort.
There’s no limit to the types of organizations that could benefit from WhatsApp Business. Nonprofit organizations use it to offer services to their clients, retail operations use it as a point of sale, B2B sales are enhanced by quick and seamless communication. It was recently announced that Santander bank will pilot a service allowing individuals to transfer money directly through the app. The potential of this platform is significant.
What do you need to do to get started?
The process is pretty simple and straightforward, and WhatsApp lays it out clearly on their website. Start by downloading the app on your mobile device, verify your business phone number and complete your organization’s profile.
What if we have don’t have Spanish-speaking staff available to answer chats?
Having the language skills internally to communicate with clients in Latin America can be a limited and highly prized resource. You may find that text-based communication is much easier for your team and your clients, in either English or Spanish. At minimum, you can have this channel available to offer prospective clients ready-made materials in Spanish and offer to have someone with a better command of Spanish follow up later. If you’re already doing business in Latin America, there shouldn’t be too much standing in your way of benefiting from WhatsApp Business.