Even though Broadcast Lists could be one of WhatsApp’s most powerful tools, many people are unfamiliar with them. Others are confused by this tool and how it works.
Basically, a Broadcast List is a feature that allows a WhatsApp user to create a list of contacts and send messages to them. The messages look like a regular chat, but there are some key differences. These differences make Broadcast Lists ideal for marketing, merchandising, and other business functions.
The best way to understand what a WhatsApp Broadcast List is and how it works is to learn the differences between such a list and a regular WhatsApp Group. Once you understand these differences, you will see why Broadcast Lists could be the key to WhatsApp’s future.
Broadcast Lists vs. WhatsApp Groups
Here are the major differences between Broadcast Lists and groups in WhatsApp:
- A Broadcast List is a one-way communication. The recipients of the list cannot respond to it like chat recipients can. This enables a person to send a message to large numbers of people without having his or her account flooded with responses.
- Broadcast Lists were designed for business communications—to enable a retailer to send a coupon or a notification about a sale to all of her customers for example.
- Broadcast Lists and group chat cannot be done at the same time.
- Group chat is designed to facilitate communication between a group of people. Broadcast Lists are designed to facilitate communication between one person and the group.
- Contact information is not shared through Broadcast Lists.
- A person on a Broadcast List is not notified if anybody else is receiving a message. In a group chat, everybody is notified about everybody else’s communications.
- Only one person, the administrator or creator of the list, can send messages or add people to the broadcast. The administrator also has the ability to remove recipients from the list.
As you can see, Broadcast Lists were created as a means of facilitating mass communications through WhatsApp. The idea was to open up WhatsApp for use by journalists, marketers, and others that want to reach large numbers of people at once.
How to Create WhatsApp Broadcast Lists
Creating and sending out a Broadcast List is actually easier than a lot of people think. Here are the basic steps needed to create and send out such a list:
- Open WhatsApp.
- Click on the options button in the top right-hand corner of WhatsApp.
- Select New Broadcast.
- Add the names of contacts from your address book. You can only add contacts from your own address book. That means you will have to add contacts to your address book before creating a list.
- Click on the Create button.
- You will be able to send text messages to every member of the group and send out any sort of media allowed on WhatsApp, including video and photos.
Currently, there is a limit to the number of people you can add to a Broadcast List. The current limit is around 256 recipients unless WhatsApp expands it.
How to Take Advantage of WhatsApp Broadcast Lists
WhatsApp Broadcast Lists have the potential to become a powerful marketing and communication tool. That tool could be utilized by a wide variety of people and institutions.
Some of those who could take advantage of WhatsApp Broadcast Lists include the following:
- Small businesspeople
- College professors
- Government officials
- Service professionals
- Leaders of community organizations, such as Parent Teacher Associations (the PTA)
- Community activists
- Police officers
- Military officers
- Business owners
- School administrators
- Government administrators
Basically, anybody that needs to reach a group of people with communications can take advantage of Broadcast Lists through WhatsApp. Since most people carry and use smartphones these days, such a list could be a cheap and convenient means of reaching members of the group.
A teacher could use a list to send lessons to the members of her class. A coach could use a Broadcast List to reach members of his team. A manager could use a list to contact employees and notify them of changes. A business owner could use a list to send updates to customers.
For example, the coach could notify team members if practice has been cancelled. A delivery person could use a broadcast list to notify customers when their package will arrive. The driver of a carpool could use WhatsApp to let riders know what time he will reach them.
Are Broadcast Lists the Future of WhatsApp?
Not surprisingly, many people will be wondering if Broadcast Lists are the future of WhatsApp. After all such lists could be the catalyst that transforms WhatsApp from a simple messaging solution.
Since WhatsApp has around 900 million users around the world, the audience that Broadcast Lists could one day reach could be vast. A logical extension of this application would be to create Broadcast Lists capable of reaching thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people at once.
Naturally, advertisers and media creators such as newspapers or musicians would want to utilize such a solution, although it would also conflict with the legendary aversion to advertising shown by WhatsApp creator Jan Koum, who currently serves as the company’s CEO.
Broadcast Lists Could Be the Future of Marketing
One strong possibility is that Facebook, which now owns WhatsApp, will enable some sort of widespread Broadcast List solution after the solution reaches a wide audience. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken about concentrating on WhatsApp’s growth now and monetizing it later. One has to imagine that WhatsApp Broadcast Lists will be part of that plan.
That might mean he already has a large-scale WhatsApp Broadcast List feature in the works. The smaller lists currently available could be a beta test for a larger application.
This means that those that want to get in on the future of marketing and potentially utilize a media that could reach hundreds of millions of people around the globe should start experimenting with WhatsApp Broadcast Lists now. WhatsApp Broadcast Lists could be the future of marketing.