LEGAL WHATSAPP MARKETING IN INDIA
Social media platforms have proven to be the biggest marketing tools for many companies. Companies invest their time and resources to get their marketing strategies right for social media besides traditional marketing. However, this decade has seen the boom of social media like never before. With Facebook having a market share of 75% over other social media platforms, it’s hard to ignore the hidden potential of social networking. It’s safe to say that we may even have many social networking platforms that will come up in the future.
But throughout our social media usage, we have forgotten one platform that has potential beyond anything. WhatsApp, it is. A messaging service platform, owned by Facebook, that has a reported 450 million user base just in India. With over 6.5 billion messages sent and received daily, WhatsApp is underrated for conducting business with customers.
WhatsApp, realizing this, launched its line of business products, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API for companies of all sizes. But with the advent of all these products, comes a question of using it responsibly. Any social media platform gives the freedom to create, post, or publish information that does not exceed or violate laws.
These laws (or guidelines) pertain to a country or to the privacy of the users or anything. Companies that use WhatsApp may have used it as a way to market their products or services without actually understanding its implications. WhatsApp is strict about its business policy within the use of its business products.
This article elaborates the legal policies as stated by WhatsApp that its users should abide by.
1. Adherence to guidelines
- Users are asked to follow any and every guideline that comes with WhatsApp business products. The guidelines are listed in WhatsApp’s product documentation.
- For users of WhatsApp Business, sufficient information like the business’s website, contact information, email address, and any related info must be provided for the identifier’s convenience.
- You can be allowed to contact your target audience through WhatsApp if they’ve given you their contact and consented to be contacted by you. Or you can give your number and ask them to contact you for further.
- WhatsApp is strict against using their platform as a means to market, advertise, or publicize any business and/or activities to the recipients.
- If a person requests to be blocked, or opts out of WhatsApp communication, the sender should respect such request and remove contact from the list.
2. WhatsApp Business Solution users
Unlike the WhatsApp messaging platform for personal use, WhatsApp Business API has a set of criteria upon which messages are sent.
Opt-in messages – Opt-in messages signifies getting active consent from a person before you can commence a chat. The person whom you wish to send the message has to opt-in to communicate with you on WhatsApp and receive messages whenever necessary. The opt-in must clearly show your business’s name and must testify that the person has agreed to receive messages in the future.
Template messages (Accepted messages only)
For users of WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp has a feature called template messages. Before companies send any messages to its audience, WhatsApp reviews the messages for approval and then grants permission to send them. The template messages may not conflict or mislead its intended purpose, or they are liable to rejection. Automated messages may be used for interacting with the audience by still maintaining rapport within the audience.
3. Data security and compliance
- WhatsApp values user privacy and data security above anything else. The platform was created with the aim of keeping conversations private among users with secure sharing of media.
- WhatsApp doesn’t encourage to use any user information obtained from them except for messaging.
- WhatsApp strictly prohibits the exchange of sensitive information like credit card numbers, personal identification numbers. Doing this will prompt WhatsApp to terminate the account of the sender.
- Businesses are not allowed to share customer information to another customer as it violates the Commerce policy of WhatsApp.
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WHY WHATSAPP MARKETING IS NOT LEGAL IN INDIA?
As we know well, WhatsApp was created to solve the issues of high SMS rates. WhatsApp was the sought-after replacement for text messaging for which it amassed over hundreds of millions of users in India. Before WhatsApp Business was introduced, small businesses used WhatsApp application to do business with their customers. That way they could stay in touch with their customers and answer their queries.
But, marketing agencies have taken this as an advantage and have started to use WhatsApp to boost audience interaction. They do this by sending messages in bulk to customers. WhatsApp monitors the amount of messages sent to customers and whether it violates the privacy of customers or not. If WhatsApp finds anything suspicious, the sender’s numbers are indefinitely blocked from conducting any sort of business.
WhatsApp Business API was later introduced to enable communication and reach at scale with the audience. However, staying true to its policies, it still did not allow any sort of marketing or advertising to happen within the platform.
There have been reported incidents across India where people have been scammed through WhatsApp. This has raised concerns and the government has ordered to impose regulations on its usage. WhatsApp has since been monitoring the activity of its customers and blocks or terminates any sort of non-compliant users.
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