• WhatsApp is used by 23 million South Africans
  • For good marketing WhatsApp should be used to build relationships and trust, rather than to send spammy broadcasts
  • This requires using WhatsApp products that prioritise user needs, deliver value and offer long term relationships with users

WhatsApp Usage in South Africa

Mobile penetration in South Africa has been increasing over the past years, with one study estimating that 95% of South Africans now have access to a mobile phone. The same study estimates that 91% of all phones in South Africa are smartphones.

For smartphone users, WhatsApp is the second most popular mobile application in the country. It is estimated that 93% of South Africans with internet access are WhatsApp users, with a total of 23 million WhatsApp users in the country. This is compared to a total of 6 million Instagram users and 28 million Facebook users (check out our Facebook bot if you are interested in conversational Facebook marketing).

In fact, by some estimates, South Africa ranks second globally for WhatsApp use. Other messaging applications such as Telegram and Signal lag far behind all of these Facebook products in usage, with speculation growing around their illicit use cases. WhatsApp is the primary messaging for South Africa.

Marketing on WhatsApp

As a result of its high and growing usage, many businesses are trying to work out how to market on WhatsApp. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of WhatsApp bots that simply output laundry lists of information based on a USSD-like users experience (think the government COVID-19 bot).

But this platform can be used to create genuine relationships with users, building trust generating high conversion rates when used to add value to the lives of potential clients.

This is exactly what we are doing at FoondaMate. We provide our users with quality educational content whenever they need it. We have helped students study with less stress and build relationships with our users over extended periods of time.

When working with clients we help our clients to leverage this relationship to build trust in their own businesses, while avoiding spammy WhatsApp broadcasts our outdated USSD-like UX. Instead, their content and products can be seamlessly inserted into existing conversations with already engaged users. You can learn more about this here.

Our top tips for WhatsApp marketing

  1. Avoid anything that feels spammy or invasive. Remember that this is the platform many people are using to connect with friends and family – they really don’t want to be getting the equivalent of junk email by WhatsApp
  2. Make your marketing as personal as possible. One of the key benefits of WhatsApp over other platforms is it’s one to one nature. We have been able to use WhatsApp to create a true tutor for our students, giving them personalised attention. This is then leveraged in any marketing we do for clients. Try and make sure that you are making use of this unique feature of chat based marketing.
  3. If you are not able to create personalised marketing via WhatsApp use products that already do this. This is a much better option than making potential clients feel like you are spamming them and having them block your number.

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About the author : Dacod Magagula

Co-founder, CEO - FoondaMate