Whatsapp For Business 101

Updated: Jan 10

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of South Africans are well versed in how WhatsApp works (primarily as a private messaging service) and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram serve to enhance businesses’ public profiles. With the Whatsapp Business tool, this allows users to really focus on more personal customer connections, strengthening the connection between businesses and their customers. The first two videos introduce WhatsApp Business and give you a better idea of what its all about:


What exactly is the difference between Whatsapp and Whatsapp for Business? I am so glad you asked!



WhatApp for Business was developed and built with more small businesses in mind - a platform allowing small businesses to now quickly and concisely convey to consumers what they do and can offer. The icon is represented slightly differently with a “B” for Business, but follows the same WhatsApp layout initially. In terms of your Business Profile, you can add all relevant business details such as location, website and email address and use your company logo. It allows for easier engagement with customers, by being able to respond to them quicker with its auto-messaging and auto-responses functionality. In Statistics, you’re able to see how many messages have been sent, delivered, read and received. The messaging tools that WhatsApp Business offers are certainly time-savers!


As a WhatsApp Business user, you’re able to make use of key shortcuts to implement simpler and more personal communications such as Welcome, Away and Custom messages (short links) using the forward slash to copy/share and customise default messages to your customers.


WhatsApp Business Messaging tools allow you to set an ‘away message,’ ideal for when you’re on leave or for over weekends if your business is closed. You can also set up ‘greeting messages’ which would be the first thing a customer would read when they hit your profile. The messaging shortcuts are your quick replies. Setting up these shortcuts manually for your business expedite messaging and you also have the broadcast message feature (up to 256 contacts), as found in a personal WhatsApp profile. Here’s where businesses need to be extra mindful of not spamming their customer database - with the introduction of POPI (Protection of Personal Information Act), consumers have to explicitly opt in to your database and you’ll need a paper trail to prove they’ve opted in. It must be noted that you’re unable to run a WhatsApp Business profile and a personal profile off of the same number - you would need to convert or register a new sim linked to the WhatsApp Business profile. Remember to do a manual back up to beforehand.


This next video helps to dispel some myths that may surround WhatsApp Business and set you straight.



There’s certainly no ‘spray-and-pray approach’ adopted by the WhatsApp Business platform, it wasn’t intended for bulk messaging comms - you can only broadcast to 256 people at a time and they need to have your number stored in their phone or have initiated contact else they won’t receive messages. This isn’t a bad thing given the privacy laws of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and POPI as mentioned before coming into effect in SA. Users/small business owners need to be use the platform smartly and be mindful about how they are using marketing platforms, with larger businesses typically opting for WhatsApp API. You aren’t able to have multiple users on the platform, it’s still linked to one number with one user. If you were wanting to have both profiles on one device, you would need two separate sim cards (one for personal and one for WhatsApp Business), second number receives the one-time pin to validate the number and then can carry on with original sim card. (Bear in mind that sim cards do expire.) You absolutely can switch your profile from WhatsApp to WhatsApp Business, and numerous times! It’s a seamless process - I’ve personally done this a couple of times and never lost any info. You may find yourself doing this due to privacy concerns and time sensitive comms, like queries that come in after hours. WhatsApp Business whilst originally only released for Android users, is now available for both IOS and Android users now. A simple download process off of the Play Store or App Store, either transferring your number or starting afresh and it’s an easy one-time pin step.


There are a number of ways in which WhatsApp Business is different from ‘normal’ WhatsApp, which can be found specifically in the business tools section;


  • The Business profile - here you set up all the company details and its description, including the business hours and its location, as well as category and a super helpful ‘about message.’

  • Catalog - this feature is a game-changer! Created on the app (not desktop), you are able to showcase your product / service with pricing, updating to all your new items along the way, and the current limits is 500 products! You can reference customers to your catalog, with the paperclip icons. Whilst you aren’t able to ‘check out’ the platform, you can input your URL for your eCommerce store or still do transactions manually over phone. There isn’t a payment functionality in SA on the platform yet, but we’re keeping a close tab on this update. (learn a bit more in our WhatsApp Pay & " | Beginners guide to Whatsapp Payments video further in this blog). It’s worth mentioning that you aren’t able to bulk upload the catalog or sync to Shopify (yet?).

  • The Away Message & The Greeting Message - both of these features can be set up to apply always or customised to select recipients and you can toggle this feature on and off as needed.

  • Quick Replies - this is a simply set up shortcut done by using the forward slash / and is so well tailored to business comms allowing you to converse with customers quickly and on the move.

  • Labels - uber helpful for the ultimate organiser, this feature allows you to track where a customer is in their in purchase or conversion journey. You are able to use tags such as new customer / pending payment and create your own labels with colours.

  • Linked Accounts - easily done to your FB page.

  • Short Link - you are able to share / copy / generate a QR code with a default message for your customers allowing them to join into conversations with you and your brand.

  • Voice and Video Calls on WhatsApp Business - these are allowed and can’t be prevented, not necessarily a bad thing depending on the way you like to communicate as a business and the level of personal touch you want to add to your customer engagements.

  • Multiple Browsers - you aren’t able to have multiple browsers open using the WhatsApp Business log in. If you’re using one WhatsApp Business account and you were close together it’s possible that one user could be logged in via their phone, and the other use logged in via web but the session would expire. This is where the auto-message functionality comes in handy rather.

  • WhatsApp Business SIM registration - once you’ve registered with the necessary sim in your phone, you can continue to use WhatsApp Business without having the sim card in the phone after registering.


Whilst WhatsApp Pay hasn’t yet rolled out SA, it’s been rolled out in India and Brazil and our WhatsApp Pay & Beginners guide to Whatsapp Payments video gives you a better understanding of how WhatsApp payments work.



It’s a very straightforward process; requiring you to link up your participating bank card to your WhatsApp account, verify the card with an OTP (security measures are in place with a 6-digit pin / fingerprint authentication) then initiating payments are as simple as sending an attachment. It’s a super nifty piece of innovation that would open up amazing possibilities for small businesses in SA now, so here’s hoping we have an update soon!


WhatsApp Business API

For businesses with more complex and larger customer bases, the WhatsApp Business API programme can optimise responses based on their customer’s queries, and prompt interaction with them.


For more advanced functionality, you would need to look at the Whatsapp API.


WhatsApp API in a nutshell, allows you to:

  • Facilitate competitions

  • Run snap polls and surveys

  • Get location-based info

  • Receive video and image submissions

  • Offer loyalty rewards and incentives

  • Answer FAQs

  • Improve customer services

  • RSVP to events

  • Run facial recognition campaigns

  • Redeem product

  • What’s more is it’s free, easy to activate, highly interactive and most rewarding!


A WhatsApp Bot can seem futuristic to most of us but it proves to be a powerful tool for businesses and it’s actually very simple to build, thanks to a platform that’s been developed by a local agency Techsys Digital, which allows someone like me with no coding experience, to build a bot yourself! Depending on your preference, this can be created to be Conversational, Transactional or a mix of the two.


For example, in South Africa a lot of our travel agencies and airlines make use of this in a transactional manner, through supplying boarding passes. A more conversational bot would simulate a call centre-type of environment, but all in all Bots are intended to solve a business objective. Firstly, you need to identify a human-centric problem at the centre and consider what the customer journey looks like… the WhatsApp Business app is ideal for small businesses and allows you to do simple things on platform and the WhatsApp API whilst more advanced, can comes across as not as attainable for some and a developer’s services would need to be enlisted. You might find yourself wanting something with more advanced functionality but aren’t a coder, and that’s where a Bot Builder comes in handy - acting as a sort of middleware between those two need states.


The most obvious benefit of a WhatsApp Bot is the fact that so many people already use the app and it’s virtually free across all networks (cost effective WhatsApp data bundles) - given it’s such a commonplace communication tool that people use, having a business contact you through this app has a more familiar sense about it. Bots allow businesses to scale their customer service, facilitating high number of queries they receive and it’s pretty real time, so responses are typically speedy. As we know, WhatsApp makes use of Encrypted messages, so it’s even more ideal to use this platform when dealing with sensitive information. Some scenarios where a Bot would be most useful include:

  • Checking the weather - something most of us doing without even thinking about it and a simple thing for a Bot to fulfil

  • Reading the news - finding out what the news of the day is and what exact topic, this branching aspect of Bots allows you to get to the information you’re looking for quicker

  • Book appointments

  • Check balance

  • As a brand to facilitate a competition

  • Survey / poll / quiz - brilliant for market research

  • Deal of the day for e-commerce RSVPs / ticket purchases Bots can integrate with specialists in natural language processing, for example something like Google DialogFlow or Lex from Alexa technology, to make the Bot that much more understanding or in touch with human emotion.


Looking at the Buildabot Platform: there’s an incredible report summary where you can see messages per day.

  • It is a really cool flow builder, which shows rich jou