WhatsApp has become the most popular and perhaps the most powerful communications solution in history. The messaging solution’s creators announced that it now has one billion users on February 1, 2016.
If that number is correct nearly one out of seven human beings is sending messages by WhatsApp at least once a month. This gives Facebook; which owns WhatsApp, access to the largest potential audience in history because the company’s other social media solutions have around 2.7 billion users.
Facebook itself has around 1.5 billion users according to Statista, Facebook Messenger has 800 million users and Instagram has 400 million users, statistics compiled by Statista indicated. In contrast, Twitter only has 320 million users.
The Largest Audience in History
When all the numbers are added up, they indicate that Facebook now has access to 3.7 billion users or a number that corresponds to a little over half of the world’s population. That makes the $19 billion in stock and cash that Mark Zuckerberg paid for WhatsApp money very well spent. Zuckerberg’s products now reach more people than any other company on Earth.
Even if he could reach just one percent of those people with advertising or a promotion, Zuckerberg would have access to an audience of 37 million people. The next step is commercializing WhatsApp to reach more business customers.
“Next, we’re going to work to connect more people around the world and make it easier to communicate with businesses,” Zuckerberg noted in a Facebook post he sent out to celebrate WhatsApp’s one billionth customer.
This means that those who want to take advantage of the next social media and advertising revolution need to get involved in WhatsApp. The messaging application is now the world’s popular and successful communications tool.
How WhatsApp Attracted One Billion Users
The most astounding aspect of WhatsApp’s success has been the rate at which it is growing. When Facebook acquired the company that created WhatsApp the solution only had 450 million users. That means its use has more than doubled in volume in less than two years.
The key to WhatsApp’s phenomenal growth over the past few years has been some of the decisions that Zuckerberg and the solution’s creators; Jan Koum and Brian Acton, have made since joining forces in 2014. The three have embarked upon an aggressive and highly successful campaign to get as many people as possible to use WhatsApp.
The most important of these efforts was to make WhatsApp free to use. They eliminated a 99¢ fee for users and gave up $999 million, nearly $1 billion in revenue to speed up growth, The Verge reported . The strategy which is known in marketing circles as a “freemium” and in retail as a loss leader worked.
Killing the fee made WhatsApp accessible to hundreds of millions of potential new users including some in developing nations for whom 99¢ is a lot of money. The trio realized that an active user and potential customer could be worth far more than 99¢.
By sacrificing around $1 billion in revenue, WhatsApp acquired 550 million new users. The service more than doubled its reach and added untold billions of dollars in future value to its bottom line by simply eliminating one fee.
Then men who connected one billion people WhatsApp creators Jan Koum and Brian Acton.
WhatsApp Brings Encryption to the Masses
The power and reach of WhatsApp is staggering, it was able to double usage and create the world’s largest social media network by simply eliminating one fee. That makes its capacity to change the world and the way people live is immense.
The next revolutionary step that Koum and Acton plan to take is to make encryption; the ability to send messages totally private, available to one billion people, Wired reported . Koum, Acton and Zuckerberg have encrypted the entire WhatsApp network. If all goes as planned not even WhatsApp’s employees will be able to read the encrypted messages.
Every WhatsApp message will now be encrypted from end to end, according to Wired. That means encryption technology and the secrecy it brings which was formerly only available to those who could afford high-end technology such as the Apple iPhone is now accessible even to the world’s poorest people.
How WhatsApp could disrupt the World
This is a potentially subversive and disruptive move because it will enable WhatsApp users to avoid government surveillance. For instance it will now be easier than ever for dissidents and activists to organize protests against governments and big corporations. Social media already played a key part in the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 that brought down dictatorships in several countries including Egypt and Tunisia.
Another use would for whistleblowers; such as government employees, who want to leak or distribute secret information without getting caught. A clerk in a government office that sees a document indicating that a politician had taken a bribe could simply send a picture that document to a journalist or the official’s political opponents using WhatsApp. Since WhatsApp is encrypted the clerk would not have to worry about getting fired for exposing corruption.
There is of course a dark side to this, terrorists and criminals will able to use WhatsApp to avoid police detection. The disruptions created by activists organizing on Social Media can also be incredibly destructive. Many observers have blamed the ongoing Syrian and Libyan civil wars and the rise of the ISIS terrorist army on the Arab Spring.
The Power of WhatsApp
The most fascinating aspect of the WhatsApp story is the size of the team behind it. Wired reported that WhatsApp only has 50 engineers yet it is capable of reaching one billion people.
Its staff is smaller than that of an average sized daily newspaper. Yet WhatsApp can reach one billion people while the largest newspaper in the United States in 2015, USA Today; reported a circulation of a little over 4.1 million. That could make WhatsApp the most powerful media company in the world.
Those looking for new marketing tools had better take a close look at WhatsApp and social media in general. By acquiring one billion users, WhatsApp has proven that messaging is the most powerful marketing and communications tool in the world. It could also become the basis for the most influential medium in human history.
Anybody that wants to become familiar with media’s future had better take a close look at WhatsApp before it acquires two billion users. Jan Koum, Brian Acton and Mark Zuckerberg have proved that a simple messaging app can change the world.