Per Meta yesterday:
New integration will help businesses build experiences to chat with customers on WhatsApp, while being able to manage communication directly from the Salesforce platform.
We want more people to benefit from faster, richer interactions, and we continue to invest in ways to make it quick and easy for businesses to get up and running on WhatsApp. Today we’re taking a big step in making our WhatsApp Cloud API’s powerful capabilities easily available to all Salesforce customers globally, through a new partnership that will enable these businesses to offer new experiences right on WhatsApp and easily manage these across Salesforce Customer 360 applications.
Earlier this year, Meta launched a cloud-based API that would help businesses of all size get started on WhatsApp quickly. The idea is that this new API will lower the technological barriers to entry and enable organizations to connect with their customers as frictionless as possible. In this sense, the partnership with Salesforce is a natural evolution. Salesforce has a lot of big customers that operate at an enormous scale. By making WhatsApp Cloud API a native integration into Salesforce, Meta wants Salesforce customers on their WhatsApp Business platform and leverages these companies’ scale to accelerate the usage of WhatsApp Business.
What’s in it for WhatsApp and Meta? Well, WhatsApp Business has a conversation-based pricing model. The first 1,000 conversations every month are free. Past that point, companies are charged per conversation, depending on who initiated the chat. Conversations initiated by users look to be about 30-40% cheaper than those initiated by businesses. Here is how Meta defines a conversation:
All conversations are measured in fixed 24-hour sessions. A conversation starts when the first business message in a conversation is delivered, either initiated by the business or in reply to a user message. Businesses and users can exchange any number of messages, including template messages, within a 24 hour conversation session without incurring additional charges. Each 24 hour conversation session results in a single charge
As part of the push into eCommerce, Meta sees big potential in business messaging. In April 2021, the company revealed that businesses using WhatsApp API sent over 100 million messages per day in 2020. In July 2022, there were 1 billion users that message a business every week across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Meta also disclosed that click-to-message is already a multi-billion dollar business for them. Therefore, I expect to see more integrations similar to the one with Salesforce in the future as Meta continues to scale their business messaging. Capitalism forbids leaving money on the table, you know.
However, I do think that there is a subtle yet important difference in how users view WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. All of these apps are what people use to stay in touch with friends and family. That’s the primary use case. The feeling of safety and privacy that enable such a use case is paramount. With Messenger and Instagram, there is a natural concession from users that they know they are tracked in the background and ads is acceptable since this is Meta we are talking about. With WhatsApp, it’s different. The brand positioning of WhatsApp is built on privacy. It’s fine for users to chat with a business that they are engaging with. But I suspect that it wouldn’t feel comfortable to see ads blasting on your screen based on previous conversations and purchases. Meta already rolls out ads on WhatsApp. I don’t know what they see with internal data, but as an end user, I would not use WhatsApp for eCommerce if I saw even one ads from them. They should tread carefully, when it comes to combining ads and eCommerce on WhatsApp.