Today’s Cache | WhatsApp mutates

Today’s Cache is a column on the happenings in the world of tech and corporations.

Updated - April 18, 2022 07:33 pm IST

Published - April 18, 2022 04:31 pm IST

Facebook understands user stickiness is key to make money from advertisers and marketers. More conversations lead to greater stickiness -- network effect at work. The result: more data on users, their behaviours, likes and dislikes.

Most of these conversations are now happening on messaging platforms. That means more user data is flowing into messaging apps, a market that caters to over 3 billion users, and is estimated to grow at 6% annually, according to market intelligence firm eMarketer. WhatsApp dominates this market.

A 2020 survey by consulting firm Kantar on changing media habits during the pandemic highlights that WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram experienced over 40% increase in user growth in the 18-34 age group.

Specifically, WhatsApp saw a 40% increase in usage; in the early phase of the pandemic usage increased 27%, in mid-phase 41%, and countries in the late phase of the pandemic saw an increase of 51%.

People in some markets, particularly India and Latin America, use messaging apps for more than texting and calling each other. They make purchases and connect with brands via these digital channels.

And no wonder Facebook wanted to exploit this important shift to add value to its clients (advertisers). That’s why it updated its privacy policy early last year to make it easy for the social network to make its apps talk to each other and glean user data.

After this policy was heavily censured by users, governments and lawmakers, the company partially rolled it back.

Then, it started to re-organise how Facebook groups relate to each other. Its idea was to exploit the granular level data available at the hyper-local level. The company calls this the ‘sub group’.

Facebook is now taking this feature to WhatsApp. After rolling out new voice messaging features to all users, WhatsApp is now working on a dedicated “Community” tab.

The feature can help increase stickiness on the messaging service as Facebook has already seen the benefits of this kind of hyper-segmentation experience from the social network’s redesign, boosting engagement on the platform.

The move could also provide the company a new stream of revenue by monetising a difficult-to-monetise messaging app.

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