Facebook just announced a ‘Communities’ update for Whatsapp. I’m pretty excited about its impact on the community world, but the reason why I’m writing this is because @MattM and I had a quick Twitter exchange.
The second I saw the update announcement I thought about my Iranian mom. This is probably the first time she can realistically become part of a thriving online community.
I think this is the case for many more people in the Middle East, North Africa, South America, and parts of East Asia.
I’ll write down my reasons and will attach some links to good-enough sources so not all of this is based on my assumptions.
Reason 1: Tech-savvy in 3rd world and developing countries != Tech-Savvy in the 1st world.
Check the percentages on this - Smartphone penetration by country
If you have a smartphone, you’ll probably not have the newest iPhone. And you probably don’t have all the apps for Slack, Discord, Forem, Circle, and Twitter. You have the basics. Whatsapp is for sure one of the basics.
A little bit about gaps in digital understanding.
Reason 2: Using the internet sucks.
It’s just not a very pleasurable experience to use the internet when every single click takes 20 seconds.
You can often find ‘Lite’ versions of popular apps in those countries. Some examples are Uber Lite and Facebook Lite.
Compared to other chat-based apps like Discord and Slack, Whatsapp is far more accessible to users with slow internet.
Reason 3: Whatsapp isn’t just for friends over there.
Because of reasons 1 and 2, businesses have fewer touchpoints to reach their users.
So you reach them where they are ie Whatsapp.
Using Whatsapp for customer service is pretty common in the middle east. And it’s a delight.
My mom will love Whatsapp Communities.
Also, Whatsapp’s usage statistics are just out of this world in 2nd & 3rd world countries.