Three reasons Facebook's $19B acquisition of WhatsApp matters to you

Ever heard of WhatsApp before last week? I had heard the name and seen it in the App Store, but I didn't pay any attention to it - mainly because I'm not aware of anyone I know who uses it. WhatsApp is a "free" mobile app alternative for SMS (Short Message Service or text messaging) and MMS messaging (Multimedia Messaging Services or text messages with pictures or video) which works globally and between all flavors of smartphones ("cross-platform"). Since unlimited text messaging is part of my bundled service with AT&T, and since I don't message anyone internationally, I don't really have a need for it. But outside of the U.S. where SMS and MMS messages cost a lot and where there are a huge variety of cheap smartphones in use, WhatsApp has exploded in popularity along with other free messaging mobile apps like Line and WeChat.

Facebook just made the startup purchase of the century pledging a total of $19 BILLION dollars to buy this mobile messaging company. It seems a bit steep until you look into why. In a nutshell, Facebook bought WhatsApp because it's currently one of the fastest growing social platforms ever, adding around 1 million users every day - much of it international - and it has the highest percentage of active users of any platform right now at 70%. Some also speculate that, similarly to their Instagram purchase, Facebook wants access to the billions of photos its over 450,000,000 users share, as well as having a ton more user data to mine and use in advertising on Facebook. And of course they could also be buying them to simply eliminate a competitor. All that to say, it's complicated and there are tons of possibilities.

So why should you take notice of this acquisition as an author?

 

1) MOBILE

Facebook just invested another $19 BILLION in their global mobile device strategy. WhatsApp and other messaging apps are only available on smartphones. More and more users browse the web and interact online with their mobile devices every day. How much time and money have you invested in ensuring your website and internet-based store fronts work and look good on mobile devices? Do you have a responsive website? Can all of your content display/play properly on a smartphone? If you don't know, then grab a smartphone and see what your site looks like!

 

2) GLOBAL

This acquisition reminds us that there's huge opportunity internationally which anyone can tap into. Are your products available worldwide on Amazon, iTunes, etc.? Are you aware of the international markets your work is distributed to? Have you looked at your Twitter and Facebook Page's "insights" about where your followers and fans are around the globe? Would it be worthwhile to give WhatsApp or Line a go? What targeted posts can you do that might get you more international shares and traffic?

 

3) VISUAL

Part of WhatsApp's biggest use is for sharing images. Visual content is proven to be the most effective at engaging users and in being shared. Are you generating and sharing enough visual content on your various social media feeds and your website? What is some creative and original visual content that you can offer, and how frequently are you able to post? What tools do you have that can help you in generating compelling visual content?

 

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