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How businesses are capitalizing on lesser-known social media apps WhatsApp, Telegram

Posted by Carol Mahamedi

July 23, 2021    |     4-minute read (978 words)

  In 2021, customers increasingly like to connect with businesses in the same way they do with their friends and family. For most people, reaching out through Telegram or WhatsApp is a personal and accessible way to interact with companies. Telegram and WhatsApp are among the world's most popular chat apps. While most companies already are active on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, lesser-known apps like Telegram and WhatsApp don't get the same attention from many business owners yet. Originally launched as instant messenger apps, the two apps are quickly making their way into the social media strategy of many companies, as a way to expand their audience, drive revenue or improve customer experience. There are many reasons why you should start chatting with your customers today.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp started in 2009 as a free instant messaging app that lets you make calls, send text messages or engage in group chats with people around the world. It works on a desktop as well as on mobile devices and it's free since it uses Wi-Fi or your phone's internet connection.    Now owned by Facebook, WhatsApp has more users than LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook combined, and in some countries, it has become synonymous with text messaging. The WhatsApp Business API offers users more options than the regular version of WhatsApp. Features like specialized business profiles, product catalogs, status updates, automatic messages, larger group chats, statistics and the integration of Facebook shops make it a useful tool for businesses.

What is Telegram?

Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app that has gained popularity because it offers users more security and privacy than WhatsApp. It has a different method of encryption, and users can enable secret chats for an extra level of privacy. Telegram has a lot of similar features as WhatsApp. One feature that makes it stand out is Telegram Channels. This is a way to broadcast your message to everyone that subscribes to your channel and allows you to reach a lot of people directly.  While WhatsApp has more features that work out of the box, there's a little bit more to it with Telegram. Most functions that are interesting for companies work through bots on WhatsApp. A bot can be programmed and used in different ways, as a customer service agent or to sell your products for example.

How to use Telegram or WhatsApp for your business

Here are some ideas and examples of how (small) businesses are using instant messaging.

Customer service

Group chatting gives customers the possibility to interact with companies in a personal way. They're used to it, it's easy to use and it saves time. For your customer service personnel, instant messaging apps are convenient to use as employees can easily switch between conversations and pick up where their colleagues have left since the whole conversation can be quickly read back.

Chatbots

Both Telegram and WhatsApp have chatbot capabilities. For businesses, this means a chatbot can be deployed to handle more common everyday questions while your staff can keep their hands free for more complex tasks. Automatic replies or away messages enhance your customers' experience even further.

Promotion and content marketing

With group chats or channels, it's easy to share content with a large number of potential customers.

Order and status update

The high open rate of WhatsApp and Telegram messages makes it a useful tool to keep users updated about the status of their orders.

Selling directly

Selling directly to your customers can be done with a chatbot that's set up specifically for selling goods (Telegram), via the product catalog (WhatsApp), or by connecting your Facebook shop. 

Status 

The status feature of WhatsApp allows users to share content that disappears in 24 hours. This offers a way to create buzz around a product, give temporary discounts, and get people excited about your business.

Recruiting

Instant messaging is a simple, discreet way to connect with potential candidates. For candidates, on the other hand, it's a low-key way to learn more about a possible job or company that they're interested in.

Top benefits of Telegram and WhatsApp for businesses:

Communicate in a more interesting way:  Features like video, audio, images, polls, stickers, sharing contacts, location and even documents open up the possibility to have more creative conversations with customers. This enables brands to engage with their customer base more directly. Reach customers around the globe: With smartphone usage still rising throughout different parts of the world and the high penetration rate of group chat apps (up to 95% in some countries) it's easy and relatively cheap to send messages to potential clients worldwide. Be where your customers are: There's a big chance your customers are online on their mobile devices now. By being available on WhatsApp or Telegram, they can contact you any time they need you with a familiar method of communication that lots of people already use daily. People like it: Data shows that an increasing number of people prefer messaging with companies over talking on the phone.  (https://www.facebook.com/business/marketing/messenger) (https://assets.ctfassets.net/2fcg2lkzxw1t/5l4ljDXMvSKkqiU64akoOW/cab0836a76d892bb4a654a4dbd16d4e6/Twilio_-_Messaging_Consumer_Survey_Report_FINAL.pdf) Have real conversations: Telegram and WhatsApp allow customers and businesses to talk directly to each other. By having genuine conversations it's easier to build a personal connection with your customers and interact with them in a similar way as they would with their friends or families. Companies that use instant messaging tend to be perceived as more friendly and relaxed. Security and privacy: It can be a challenge to continue to comply with country-specific privacy rules and regulations. On platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram, this is taken care of. Also, both Telegram and WhatsApp offer end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication to safeguard you as well as your customers. WhatsApp also offers verified accounts as a way to build more trust.

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