WhatsApp, via the WhatsApp Business Platform, and Facebook Messenger are both highly popular messaging channels owned by Meta that are available for business communication. A new Meta study shows that 75% of consumers prefer to reach out to a business via messaging apps. So it makes sense that both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are at the top of the messaging channel list that companies use to communicate with and engage their audience.
In this blog, we'll compare and contrast both Meta messaging channels based on their business use: WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger.
WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger: which channel is right for your business?
There is no easy answer to the question above. We'd love to offer a perfect communication channel for all customer engagement, but there is none. No channel is perfect for every situation, use case or audience.
It is important to note that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both had very different goals and strengths upon creation. The main strength of WhatsApp is its immense reach. For Facebook Messenger, it's mostly been about convenience and features from the start. So let's take a look at the individual channels first.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular mobile messaging channels. It's available in over 180 countries worldwide and has more than 2 billion daily active users, outranking Facebook Messenger at 930 million global users. For British users, it's the most used social messaging channel with 10m downloads each year. WhatsApp can also proudly claim the title of the third most popular social network worldwide, following Facebook and YouTube.
WhatsApp Business Platform, the WhatsApp solution for businesses, offers its users cross-platform conversational style two-way messaging services via smartphones. Sending and receiving these WhatsApp messages relies on internet access and the presence of the WhatsApp app on the mobile device. The messaging channel offers rich media services, from voice to video messages, and allows a 4096 character limit per message.
WhatsApp Business Platform is available through API or software, depending on your business needs.
TL;DR WhatsApp Business Platform
Cross-platform two-way messaging service
Conversational User Interface (UI)
Internet access + WhatsApp app required
Global reach (180 countries), over 2 billion active daily users
10m downloads each year in the UK
Available through API and Software
4096 character limit
Facebook Messenger also boasts an impressive 2,77 billion mobile phone messaging app users worldwide, of which 35 million are in the UK, and over 7 million businesses already employ Messenger as a customer engagement channel. Monthly, there are more than 20 billion conversations taking place between businesses and users. Besides personal contact, there are also 300k bots active on Facebook Messenger, exchanging 8 billion automated messages daily.
Facebook Messenger offers two-way conversational style engagement with exciting rich media features. Sending and receiving messages relies on an internet connection and, to an extent, on the Facebook Messenger app. Messenger is a web browser accessible via the Facebook platform, but the UX of Messenger on mobile devices improves with the use of the Messenger app. If users already own the Facebook app, they will be tempted by Meta also to download the Messenger app.
Messenger offers rich media, similar to WhatsApp Business Platform, and the message limit caps at about 20,000 characters. It's available for business use via integrated software or API.
TL;DR Facebook Messenger
Cross-platform two-way messaging service
Internet access required
On mobile devices, the Messenger app is advised
Over 2 billion global users and 35 million in the UK
Available through API and Software
20,000 character limit
The innovative features and statistics mentioned above may seem incredible - and they can be - but only when you employ those features to reach your audience. Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are immensely popular, but there are some key differences between the audiences of both.
WhatsApp audience: location and demographic
Globally speaking, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging channel by far, not that surprising considering the 2 billion active daily users worldwide. Especially in Europe, where the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain all rank WhatsApp as their favourite messaging channel.
But location is not the only determining factor. Different generations prefer different messaging channels. WhatsApp is popular with Boomers (aged 59-75) globally, as it is the messaging channel this generation most frequently uses. Gen X (43 – 58) is very present on WhatsApp, but WhatsApp has to share the spotlight with Facebook Messenger. Gen Z (11 – 26) and Millennials (27 – 42) also use WhatsApp a lot but don't consider it their favourite channel.
Facebook Messenger audience: location and demographic
Facebook Messenger is the king of social messaging channels in the United States, ranking as the number one most popular messaging channel. Even their neighbour Canada agrees: Facebook Messenger is the preferred channel. North America has the most active Facebook users: 82.3% of the population uses this social media platform. In Europe however, Facebook Messenger has a harder time competing for popularity with the other messaging channels. Only in France and Denmark did it manage to grab the 'most popular' title. Generally speaking though, Facebook Messenger still manages to place within the top three for almost all European countries and places second in the United Kindom.
When looking at the age range of the Facebook Messenger audience, we see that Messenger ranks as the most popular messaging channel for Millennials (aged 25 and 44). This is of course the generation that saw the birth and rise of Facebook as a social media platform, so it makes sense that they also willingly adopted its Messenger feature. Gen X (45 – 54) also ranks Facebook Messenger as their favourite channel, but it has to share this spot with WhatsApp.
WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger: which use cases are best suited for which channel?
Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have that informal, conversational nature with added rich media features that make a channel a great tool for customer support. Customers can engage with your business and ask questions within the familiar interface of the messaging channels they already use, and you can even automate and streamline certain queries and processes with a chatbot on both channels, whether a WhatsApp Chatbot or a Facebook Chatbot. So which one is better for customer support? The features and rich media are close to identical, so it all depends on your audience.
Marketing and sales
Sending your customers the latest news, deals and offers via promotional messages can be a huge asset to your marketing efforts and give your sales a boost. The WhatsApp Business Platform offers a wide range of marketing and sales-enhancing tools - you can send tailored WhatsApp newsletters and personalised promotional messages and offers to opted-in customers. The conversational nature of WhatsApp lends itself perfectly to Conversational Commerce and even assisted sales. With integrated product catalogues and abandoned cart reminder tools, WhatsApp is perfectly suited to be a marketing and sales powerhouse.
Facebook Messenger also boasts a newsletter or marketing messages feature, and you can also showcase your products within the messaging app. Assisted sales and Conversational Commerce are also great use cases for Messenger. As a bonus, you can create Facebook Advertisements that click on WhatsApp. This way, you can boost engagement on both channels.
Notifications and security
Sending time-sensitive notifications such as tracking and order updates can be done via WhatsApp. The reach of this messaging channel is a great benefit, as it is often crucial that these notifications get seen by the recipients on time. When it comes to security, there is one important use case the WhatsApp Business Platform can assist with: authenticating your customers with One Time Passwords (OTPs). WhatsApp messages, including WhatsApp OTPs, are end-to-end encrypted, making it one of the safest options available.
Facebook Messenger currently doesn't offer any notification tools.
Read: Two Factor Authentication on different messaging channels
WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger: the best choice for your business
We've seen that both meta-messaging channels are very similar in their capabilities. To answer the question above, you will need to ask yourself two questions:
Who do I want to reach?
What do I want to do?
Whether WhatsApp Business Platform or Facebook Messenger is the best choice for your business highly depends on your use case. Where is your target audience located? Who would you like to speak to? How would you like to use the channel? Which messaging channel does your audience prefer? The last question is key. Your business should meet your customers where they are.
Using both channels is also a very viable option. WhatsApp Business Platform and Facebook Messenger can complement each other greatly. Engage customers with Facebook Messenger and send authentication notifications via the WhatsApp Business Platform. Offer assisted sales via WhatsApp and send your promotional content via Facebook Messenger. Everything is possible - it just needs to be tailored to your audience.
Are you interested? You can find out more about CM.com's WhatsApp Business Platform and Facebook Messenger solutions below and you can contact one of our experts to talk about the possibilities for your business.