WhatsApp Group vs Community
WhatsApp groups enable you to bring several contacts into one space for conversations. You can add up to 1024 contacts in a group and start discussions with others. WhatsApp lets you create several groups for different purposes but the communication flow in Groups is more oriented on information exchange as WhatsApp Groups are designed for everyone to join the conversation and share their inputs. On the contrary, WhatsApp Community is a new way to organise many WhatsApp Groups. It is geared towards sharing updates and announcements in WhatsApp Groups from a single channel, keeping everyone up-to-date and informed. The community can connect up to 5000 users and create up to 50 groups and sub-groups that can be very helpful for a larger reach. Additionally, members’ phone numbers are hidden from the Community at large and only visible to Community admins and others in the same group. Communities are still rolling out and are currently available in limited countries but the goal of the company is to make the feature an integral part of the platform.
WhatsApp Community in advocacy
Messaging apps are the most direct way to interact with the public by providing a platform for individuals and organisations to share information and mobilise people around a cause. More and more companies and public figures include messaging apps in their communication strategies. Peer-to-peer sharing was already trending throughout the US political campaigning during the last few years.
There is no doubt that this new feature will help amplify the digital advocacy effect. The platform’s widespread usage and ability to send multimedia messages make it an effective tool for reaching large numbers of people efficiently. Even during the pandemic, WhatsApp has established itself as a powerful tool for activism, outreach and advocacy. For example, In Indonesia, this free encrypted messaging app has united disability rights activists across the country and has helped organise collective actions on key issues – entirely online.
The feature of communities, by reaching out to an even bigger audience, will keep groups of people more engaged, better organised and mobilised around the specific topics that matter to them. It will facilitate discussion and collaboration among advocates making it easy to navigate and coordinate.
Concisely, WhatsApp Communities can be used in advocacy in the following ways:
- Building Networks: The community feature allows the creation of groups of like-minded individuals to discuss and coordinate advocacy efforts.
- Sharing information: Advocates can use WhatsApp groups and sub-groups to share relevant news, articles, and updates related to their cause, keeping members informed and engaged.
- Mobilising Action: WhatsApp communities can be used to mobilise supporters for events, campaigns, and other advocacy initiatives.
- Conducting Surveys: Advocates can conduct surveys within the group to gauge opinions on certain issues and gather valuable data for their advocacy efforts.
- Raising awareness: Advocates can use the community feature to spread awareness about their cause and engage with the public, using multimedia content like photos and videos.
But people engaged in advocacy should take into consideration that while the influence of messaging platforms like WhatsApp Communities can be tremendous, it might be difficult to track the engagement and overall success of advocacy.