No, it is not. Using Whatsapp for marketing, promotion, or sending bulk unsolicited messages is a clear violation of WhatsApp’s Terms & Conditions. If any individual is found to be using WhatsApp (standard app) for sending unsolicited marketing messages to large numbers of people without taking their consent, his/her WhatsApp account may be blocked or banned for further use. The Facebook-owned messaging platform has so far banned millions of accounts and continues to do so for violating the company’s terms of services.
WhatsApp is Built for Private Messaging
As long as a user is using WhatsApp messenger for sending strictly personal communication, there will be no policy violation at all. Furthermore, WhatsApp doesn’t limit users from sending messages related to marketing, product announcements, or any other form of communication to their contacts sitting in the phone book. The app brings together traditional messaging and social media capabilities to make a fully immersive messaging platform backed by end-to-end encryption.
As a cross-platform app for private messaging, it offers massive capabilities to individual users. The app lets you call any WhatsApp user around the world via Wi-Fi or your data pack. Furthermore, since the app is available on Android and iPhone, you don’t have to worry about the platform your recipients are using. Following are the permissible uses of WhatsApp for private messaging:
- Voice and video calls
- Voice messaging
- Secure text messaging
- Photos and video sharing
- Document sharing
There is a valid reason behind the enforcement. WhatsApp’s policy document reads WhatsApp is a private messaging platform designed to help people message their friends, kin, and loved ones. Even in the case of WhatsApp’s business tools, bulk or automated messaging is strictly prohibited and a violation of the company’s Terms of Service.
Possible Business Uses of WhatsApp
The traffic that WhatsApp generates offers a stellar opportunity for businesses and e-commerce stores to market their products, generate leads, and accelerate sales. To keep the personal and business messaging separate, the company has launched two standalone tools–the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API. These tools are built to help marketers, startups, businesses, and companies manage customer interactions at scale.
WhatsApp Business App
WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Business in 2018 for business owners wanting to capitalize on WhatsApp’s usage and massive popularity. The app is specially built for businesses with pro features geared towards serving customers, communicating with prospects, and facilitating sales.
Creating a WhatsApp Business Account presents you with several business-friendly features. Some of them are noted here:
- Business Profiles
- With a WhatsApp business account, users can create business profiles to present information regarding opening hours, website address and contact details, and other information about your business.
- Categorized customers and chats
- Segment and label customers and chats according to the nature of the transaction such as new customer, refund status or new order, etc.
- Automatic responses
- Automated responses are custom messages sent automatically to the recipients while you’re away from the phone. A custom welcome message is an example of an automatic response.
- Message Broadcast
- A feature that allows you to send broadcasts to groups of customers who have added you to their contacts. Currently, the broadcast message feature is limited to 256 recipients at a time.
- Product catalogue
- A feature that lets marketers showcase their products and services with an inbuilt WhatsApp-based catalogue.
WhatsApp Business API
If you’re a startup or a small business, WhatsApp Business is enough for you. For medium to larger companies, Whatsapp launched WhatsApp Business API. Since it’s an API there is no app needed to start the communication. All it requires is to integrate WhatsApp Business API into their business software.
Once integrated you can use the messaging application to engage and communicate with your customers at scale. Availability of the API is limited and can be availed through a third-party solution provider. WhatsApp Business API can be used in following two ways:
1. Session Messages
Session messages are also known as customer care messages. These are the communications being sent to the businesses from the users. These messages help companies and customers connect and provide an enhanced customer support experience. Session messages are secure one-on-one conversations designed to address customer’s potential issues effectively.
2. Template Messages
Template messages are fee-based WhatsApp messages. These are predefined message formats coming with a string of text and automatic personalization. WhatsApp provides many pre-approved templated messages built around multiple user reach-out scenarios. Users may create their own templated messages to be sent. However, these templates have to be approved by WhatsApp.
Businesses using WhatsApp Business API have a 24-hour window to reply to incoming customer messages and queries. In case that window expires, you’re required to ask permission from your customers to contact them again. Read More about WhatsApp Business API and its Integration Process.
Bulk Unsolicited Messaging is Against WhatsApp's Terms of Service
You can use the app to contact people if they have given you their WhatsApp numbers and agree to be contacted. Whatsapp is smart enough to detect abusive practices to trick the platform. WhatsApp algorithm can easily detect a dubious account that sent over several hundred messages within five minutes of its registration on the platform.
WhatsApp works tirelessly to reinforce the private nature of its platform and keep users safe from abuse. WhatsApp’s algorithm has inbuilt capabilities to identify and ban accounts for policy violations. Here is how the company finds violators.
- WhatsApp’s technical team keeps looking for the phone numbers and IP addresses that have already been banned for suspicious behavior. Such accounts are prevented from creating new accounts.
- They track and ban automated bots that send messages without initiating a conversation from the recipient.
- They ban WhatsApp accounts that add thousands of users by creating bulk groups in a short space of time.
- They ban newly made accounts that attempt to send messages in bulk.