What is WhatsApp? 

  • IM (Instant Messaging) app
  • You need SIM to use it
  • You can open groups (and this is what I’m going to talk about)
  • You can share images, voice memo, location and videos
  • 800,000,000 monthly ACTIVE users
  • February, 2014: Facebook acquired WhatsAap for 19 Million dollars
  • This is WhatsApp official website for more info

Jan Koum, WhatsApp founder. Print screen: Facebook. April 18, 2015

What I did?

Since I love talking and discussing about technology, I called up my friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to join me. The process itself require participants to send you their mobile number (this require a bit of reputation, because they need to trust you with their phone number), and for you to add them as your contacts.

After 5 hours I had my Israeli tech group filled up (WhatsApp allows up to 100 people per group), and the discussions rolled on.

Who are the group members?

  • Technology journalists
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Cyber experts
  • Bloggers
  • Developers

What are we are talking about?

  • Tech news
  • Live updates from tech conference and meetups
  • Sharing job offers and exclusive conference tickets
  • Funny tech memes
  • Talking with industry VIPs (I’ll get to it soon)

Conversation that turns to news headlines (!)

Two examples for the viral & press potential of a strong WhatsApp group –

  1. During our national elections I invited our former finance minister to join us for a short group conversation. I was so happy when he agreed and we had a great chat with him (about technology, of course).
    He answered the group members’ questions and comments using text, video and voice memo of himself, and people were really excited to share print-screen images of the conversation showing their friends that they are talking with the minister himself (!). This event was published as main headline in Israel leading business news site, and I also spoke about it on TV:For the full interview see here (Minute 0:38)
    After our finance minister visited my group, We also hosted our Science and Technology minster, as well as the UK ambassador for a similar group chat.
  2. One of my group members complained about issues she has with her smartphone battery and asked if someone can explain why her battery had those issues. One of the participants, who is a chemistry researcher, explain it to her and the explanation was SO interesting that another member, a journalist, decided to publish this conversation on one of the leading news site.
    – And here’s the funny thing: a week after the smartphone battery article was published, a different member of the group told us that she wanted to buy a charger for her smartphone battery. Turns out that her local smartphone seller advised her to read the same article that started as a conversation in the group she’s taking part of (!).

Global tech thought leaders WhatsApp group

The Israeli group is SO great (people there are actually networking & learning new things every day!), that I opened a global WhatsApp group where you can find senior people from companies and news sites, such as: LinkedIn, TechCrunch, Sequoia Capital, Mashable, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Waze, IBM, Flipboard, Amazon, Forbes, The Next Web, Women Who Code, Twitter, eBay, Microsoft ventures, Google ventures, MarketWatch, Outbrain, as well as tech-oriented government professionals from France and USA, talking about innovation and sharing professional insights.

Conclusion

WhatsApp is a tremendous platform to build and extend your community and It’s totally different platform than any other:

  • Groups cannot be searched for (invites only)
  • There can be only 100 members
  • No hashtags or mentions

However – if you do this right, the value and the potential of your group can reach-out very, very,  far.

Photo Credit: WhatsApp site.
—–
Did you like this post? Follow me on Twitter @Morad