WhatsApp Communities: Exploring the Potential

Sushmita Sahu
3 min readMar 25, 2024

Are freemium WhatsApp communities or subscription-based WhatsApp communities in pipeline?

One fine day, WhatsApp moved its main menu at the bottom (for Android users) and added “Communities” as the third option out of the four. Since, it’s a widely used product in India, many of my friends, colleagues and family members did notice this prominent UX change and casually mentioned, “What have they done! This is weird. Why would they do this”. Well, change is the only constant.

I couldn’t help but think WHY would they bring in a major focus on “Communities” by changing the whole menu position. This feature was introduced few months back but it was sort of hidden / not in focus and was part of the top sliding menu.

Either they just wanted to test the feature first to see if it’s a success and then move it to the bottom menu, or they did not get enough adoption from users, since it was not introduced as a feature in focus. I am pretty sure it’s the latter one and this blog will be about why I think that!

What is “Communities” in WhatsApp?

The feature allows ANYONE to start a community. A community can comprise of any existing groups on WhatsApp (example — your family group), any new group that you want to create and any individual contact that you have. All users of all three categories under one community are called as community members.

  1. Community admin s— They can send messages / announcements in the community, which get sent to that community and all community members get notified.
  2. Community members — They consume the content/messages sent. They can react to the messages sent in the community.

It is similar to Telegram groups, with some tweaked features.

Image Credit: https://nas.io/blog/setup-whatsapp-communities

Why is WhatsApp focusing on “Communities”?

WhatsApp’s mission is “Behind every product decision is our desire to let people communicate anywhere in the world without barriers.”

Being a messaging app, communities feature is a good opportunity for WhatsApp which aligns with their mission as well as has a bunch of use cases for individuals and businesses.

Numerous businesses have realised recently how important building a community of users who love their brand and would discuss/advocate their brand passionately. A trend has also started where individuals/ founders are building cause-based communities (where people interact, help each other, founders provide some free content to help the people, etc.) and then launching their product/services. Voila! They get huge number of people who already follow them and ready to try/pay for the product they created because the value has been created.

Future of WhatsApp Communities

Once WhatsApp sees good adoption and engagement of the communities feature, they might or can try out below use cases:

  1. Subscription model for content creators: Thought leaders can create these communities and share personalised content to these users (freemium model — similar to Substack or Twitter’s Super Followers, etc.). Since, WhatsApp is a messaging app and not a content creation app, it gives a personalised experience compared to other apps.
  2. User Touchpoints through communities by Businesses (especially B2C): What’s the best way to stay in touch with your users than being present on the app that they open multiple times in a day. Whether it’s getting user feedback via surveys, promotional content or new feature updates, this might become a great channel for these! Currently, only 1024 community members are allowed. WhatsApp might bring in subscription model to increase these numbers of members.

….and many more that I have not thought of. Feel free to share if you have more in mind!

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