For most Smartphone users in Ghana, one of the most common means of communicating with family and friends is through WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging application (app) which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger works over Internet data or Wi-Fi and is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android and Nokia.
Giving its popularity and the number of smartphone users who subscribe to it, this app (application) can be leveraged for marketing businesses. I will like to throw more light on a few of these and give examples of how some businesses in Ghana have adopted WhatsApp in the marketing of their products and services.
You may not have acquired a database of clients or prospects on WhatsApp yet, however you can use your friends and people on your contact list to start your promotions.
As a small business owner or a start-up, WhatsApp can be used as a quick means to introduce new products, offers and promotions to your prospects and customers by way of sending instant messages. This is a platform for the small business owner to get creative. Your messages can be simple text, descriptions, tips and ‘how-to’ use/clean your product etc. It can also be very graphical – a poster, picture of your product etc. I will go for a picture anyday as the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words!” It can even be something outside your product/service like a simple inspirational message or greeting. Find a way to incorporate your logo, phone number etc. subtly into such a picture. This will be a great advert for your business if this image goes viral. With Whatsapp, you can easily incorporate hyperlinks into your messages to direct clients and prospects to your websites landing pages.
It is a known fact that pictures engage and draw attention. A business can use this small space for advertising new products. For example a bakery can put up a ‘delicious’ photo of its latest cake as a profile picture. A profile picture can also be the logo of the brand or poster advertising a new offer, the possibilities are endless. The marketer must make sure however that the picture used as profile picture is one that would cause his/her audience to want to view. Below (Figure 1) is an example of a boutique using the profile picture feature to advertise new clothes.
Statuses are a great way for marketers/business owners to get creative with short messages intended to command attention. It can be an announcement or even a conversation starter. For a clothing boutique for example, the status message can be the prices/sizes of the clothes you are advertising in the profile picture as in Figure 1 above. As a business owner, you wouldn’t want to leave your status as: Hey there! I am using WhatsApp (we can see that) or Available!
In the example (Figure 2) below the business uses its logo as the profile picture. The status message is promoting an up and coming service/offer. There are a host of icons and smileys on WhatsApp to incorporate into your message to make it more interesting.
Building a database
You need to build a database of interested/prospective clients. How do you do this?
In the adverts you place about your brand elsewhere (Online and Offline), advertise your phone number and ask people to:
- drop a line/ say hi or something to you via WhatsApp
- tell you what they think of your brand
- save the number for future inquiries even if they are not interested now
Save all inquiries – ask if it is the person doing the inquiry’s number and ask the prospect politely if you can save his/her number to get notified about future events/products/services from your business.
You can go a step further by politely asking for their name. This will add a personal touch to your marketing efforts when you are able to address them in the future with their names.
Group chat is a great way to segment and target your customers. Depending on the product or service etc. you offer you can create groups around similar interests. This is an easy means for ‘mass communication’. The group chat can also be used as a forum for discussions and feedback by the small business owner. It is convenient for receivers to share with friend groups in their social network; this has the potential to cause your message to go viral if the recipients find the need to share with their friends.
Keep the conversation going and the relationship alive with constant status updates and profile picture changes.
BlueStacks – Using PC’s and Laptops
You can still use WhatsApp if you don’t have a smartphone or if you would want to use your laptop or PC to run WhatsApp for your business. Although there is no official WhatsApp application available for Windows PCs, you can still use it by applying a workaround. You would need to download and install a mobile emulator software like YouWave or BlueStacks to your PC, and install it like a regular Windows application (doing this will be a discussion for another day.)
You would also need to use a modem with a sim card to access the Internet. Note that Whatsapp only allows one account per phone number and so you can’t use one phone number for both your smartphone and PC/Laptop.