Despite having significant differences from conventional social media platforms, WhatsApp can be viewed as a social media channel. Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp are all owned by a single multi-national conglomerate- Meta. Although the same company owns them, there is a hell-and-heaven difference in the working and algorithm of these platforms. While Instagram and Facebook are meant to be social media platforms, WhatsApp is a personal media platform.
Here are 3 features that make WhatsApp a social media channel-
1. Communication and Networking
WhatsApp makes it easier for people to connect and communicate with one another, two essential components of social media. Users have the ability to chat in real time, send messages, share media assets, and create groups. It enables users to connect with friends, family, and coworkers, and even join communities or interest-based groups, promoting social connections and allowing for the exchange of ideas and information.
2. Personalization and user profiles
Users of WhatsApp can add profile photos, status updates, and other individualised information to their profiles. This function is consistent with the idea of social media profiles found on websites like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, where users may share updates about themselves and express their identities and interests.
3. Content sharing and engagement
WhatsApp allows for the sharing of content during discussions, while being mostly recognised for one-on-one or group chatting. Users can interact and engage with one another by exchanging papers, links, voicemails, videos, and images. In a manner comparable to publishing posts on other social networking platforms, this enables users to share experiences, expertise, and multimedia content with their network.
However, there are some notable distinctions that set WhatsApp apart from traditional social media channels:
1. Public feed and Broadcasting
WhatsApp lacks a public feed or broadcasting option, in contrast to websites like Facebook or Twitter. Content is shared within private groups or one-on-one discussions on WhatsApp, which focuses on private and direct messaging. Instead of disseminating information to a large audience, it puts a higher priority on private connections and intimacy.
2. Limited Reach
The broad discoverability elements seen in conventional social media channels are absent from WhatsApp. WhatsApp does not include a built-in search or explore feature to help users find new contacts or communities, while users can invite people to join groups or exchange their phone numbers to connect. To grow their WhatsApp network, users generally rely on already-existing friends or recommendations.
3. Advertising and Promotions
Comparatively speaking to conventional social media platforms, WhatsApp has fewer advertising and promotional options. At the moment, the app does not support advertisements or sponsored posts. While businesses can use WhatsApp for customer service and marketing through direct messaging, the platform’s advertising features are not as advanced as those on Facebook or Instagram.
In conclusion, WhatsApp has a clear focus on private messaging and lacks the public feed, extensive discoverability, and advertising features typical of traditional social media platforms, even though it shares some traits of social media channels in terms of communication, networking, and content sharing.