WhatsApp's PR woes are grounded in not being consumer-oriented. They had a misstep because they thought that the consumer response would be the same as always, i.e., no response. Their message was not clear about what was really changing. Critically, they failed to reassure their base that its privacy and data was safe and secure. At least not in a way that was easy enough to understand.
As a result, the main thrust of the change, how third-party business handles your data was largely ignored as a talking point.
WhatsApp used the extra time it's given it's users to show its value in a more frictionless way as it needs to gain the trust back of its users.
When you have a ratio of 8:1 PR and Communications employees to each tech journalist it's not that hard to get your message out at scale. *
It just has to be the right message.
Ultimately, WhatsApp's formidable market position saw it pull through shooting itself in the foot. Two billion active users, with significant growth potential in markets like the USA and an army of PR people back at HQ are non-trivial facts.
When it comes to monthly active users of any app Globally
, Facebook (Meta) companies occupy all four of the top four most active with WhatsApp sitting at number 2 in the charts.
The doom-mongers failed to consider the market position of WA in the equation. Strength in their base users is only half the story, you have to contrast that position in context of the competition. In this article, I think I've laid out that the competition was not a significant threat to WhatsApp, despite stealing some of the limelight, the effect was short-lived.
In the end, there was only ever going to be one winner emerging from WhatsApps's PR nightmare. WhatsApp.
Stay Safe. Look after one another.
^ Statista/Company Announcements.
^^ Jonathan Obar at York University in Toronto and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch at the University of Connecticut.
^^^ 2017 Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S.
^^^^ UK parliament home affairs committee.
^^^^^ World Population Prospects: The 2019 Revision
- United Nations Population Division.
* February 2021. Section4
analysis of LinkedIn data, news outlets include: NYT, WSJ, CNN, FOX, Reuters, BBC, Bloomberg, Business Insider, CNBC, MSNBC, The Economist, The guardian, The Financial Times, NBC.