This is the status. This is the Beauty!
Will the snapchat-esque status feature of Whatsapp work in Facebook’s favor?
A friend of mine resents using whatsapp. Maybe it was being part of various family and school groups and staying updated that was overwhelming. In the past he had quit and joined back (read the blog here). And then the reason came. Whatsapp wasn’t secure and Telegram fared better in this department. So he convinced people in his network to telegram and moved out of whatsapp. And, I being one among his convinced friends, installed telegram to receive his delightful (and nutritious healthy) good morning pictures sent over a telegram channel he had created and broadcasted his messages too. I didn’t mind another chat app on my phone. A secret wish of having telegram had been to try my hands in making a bot, which is still an unfulfilled wish. And so telegram stayed on my home screen to bring a great good morning image first thing in the morning.
But, a couple of weeks ago, the telegram broadcast stopped and my friend was back broadcasting good morning pictures on whatsapp. Here is the gist of the conversation. But he dearly missed the channel feature of telegram.
A couple of days ago, the tech news sites started mentioning about a snapchat like feature that whatsapp was intending to release on it’s anniversary (Feb 23). It’s the story feature of snapchat which had made it to instagram and was predicted to arrive in Whatsapp. I was excited reading this as I had played around snapchat a bit and liked its story feature when I had explored it a year back. But I didn’t stick on to it as many of my friends/network didn’t understand it’s interfaces and didn’t want another chat tool. When the feature made it to instagram, it was addictive to view people’s stories. Either I was immersed in the some social marketing greats (like Garyvee) or following photographers and viewing their stories.
I was also excited that this could be an avenue that my friend could use to send his amazing good morning pictures too.
Today (Feb 24 2017):
After my early morning routines, as I switched on my phone data, I looked forward to catch up on my whatsapp notification. The app seemed different. And I noticed the small camera and the ‘status’ at the top.
A quick tap on the button, revealed a familiar (snapchat-esque) interface and whatsapp had indeed rolled out. Eager to check out, I headed to my balcony, shot this image and sent it to a couple of people (including my friend) who didn’t mind me spamming them with feature tests like these.
Excitedly I messaged my friend to try this and then jumped to status tab to see what it held. My cousin had sent a status. I hit reply and sent a text. It opened a ‘reply to’ conversation with him in whatsapp chat tab. Then I put the phone aside to charge and went about my tasks only to find that a couple of hours later, there were 6 status from various people in contact list. Some of them, I had simply added to my phone book as they were in some chat groups I belonged to. You could set the privacy of status to some/all of your contacts and also see who viewed your status. That’s when it dawned on me the pluses and minuses of whatsapp status.
The Pluses of Whatsapp status:
It makes personal photo updates on Facebook redundant sooner or later. The advertisers will recede too when the attention wanes.
The good morning groups will disappear. Many a group that started with a motive (like school reunion group) and later on became one of good mornings, motivational quote or news sharing groups would start to disappear.
It’s a great avenue for brands to leverage this to broadcast their story to their audience/customers. In fact I plan to do it for whenda too.
The Minuses of Whatsapp status
Whatsapp has direct integration with your phone book. You needn’t explicitly add any contact to whatsapp. The moment you add contact to your phone book, it’s synced to whatsapp too. This means your boss, direct report, milkman, handyman, insurance claim agent are on your whatsapp contact list. If you aren’t careful to select who could view your status then you might be in landing in situations you don’t want to be in. For e.g., I am talking to a seconds furniture buyer and any hint of a new sofa pic on my status would tip the bargain scales towards her end as she could then sense my desperation to do away with the old space-consuming sofa. Or if you are a biker who does long trips, would your insurance agent (or claim agent) still want to cover you at low premiums despite you carrying a higher risk profile?
If you aren’t careful, your handyman, insurance agent, milkman can see your status too.
The ads will soon come to where the attention is. The status seems to be addictive and at the time of this writing (2 PM on 24th Feb 2017) there have been 14 people posting their status from my contact list (of about 500). Maybe people are curious or maybe it was network pressure.
Ads and sponsored stories might come to whatsapp anytime soon?
Personally I could see a downside. The textual status message was a good avenue to flex my one line status writing skills. Now its vanished. Puff!
Will this ‘snapchatesque story’ or status feature be adopted by adults who dot whatsapp landscape? Will the teens desert snapchat and come back to whatsapp? The next days will tell how this will pan out.
I am an Indian writer, reverse engineer, entrepreneur and marketer. Right now I am building Whenda, a simple yet smart Asset Mangement SaaS that India deserves. Hit up www.whenda.com to know more.
P.S: The title is inspired by a Motta Rajendran dialogue from Tamil movie, ‘Naanum Rowdy Dhaan”. You could check this scene here (at around 1.05 minutes).