Connecting young artists with opportunities through WhatsApp, despite challenging pandemic conditions.WhatsApp Business API
As a joint venture between government and the private sector, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) aims to grow the arts by championing business investment in the creative industry. The organisation runs programmes, such as the BASA Debut Programme, that provide artists with the necessary skills to launch, build, and sustain their creative business ventures, as well as inspire renewed vision for established creatives and cultural organisations.About BASA
The goal of BASA’s Debut Programme is to provide business and entrepreneurial skills development to emerging artists across South Africa. BASA needed to recruit young artists for their initiative, but with nationwide lockdowns underway, reaching artists and encouraging them to participate was challenging. The company required an online solution to help them reach previously disadvantaged artists in peri-urban and rural areas, providing an easy-to-use platform for applicants to enter the programme.
“Without the use of technology (virtual platforms) including WhatsApp chatbot and emails, most of the targets were not going to be reached, given the circumstances and restrictions around Covid-19.”
Technology enabler Mobitainment partnered with CM.com to leverage an innovative mobile technology – a WhatsApp chatbot – to connect BASA with these budding artists.
The WhatsApp Business chatbot provided a guided conversation to help applicants with their entries. Entrants started the guided conversation by saying “Hi” to the chatbot and then following instructions to upload a one-minute video application. If, at any point, someone needed more help than the chatbot or FAQ could provide, they could start a breakout conversation with a human agent. This greatly improved the experience for participants as it eliminated the need for long waits on email or phone queries.
The chatbot was also built to communicate in 4 languages: English, Sepedi, Zulu and Afrikaans. Making the application process possible in more than one language enhanced inclusivity, encouraging applicants to express themselves in their home language when submitting their videos.
As a result, BASA received 207% more high-quality applicants in just a quarter of their allocated recruitment time. And because WhatsApp is an easily accessible, low-data-cost multimedia channel, every applicant had an equal chance to participate by uploading their videos and communicating cost effectively.
“The impact of the campaign is immeasurable. Young people have often expressed how expensive it is for them to go to internet cafes to scan CVs and profiles to apply for such initiatives, being able to do it via WhatsApp meant that the campaign met them where they were.”
Candice Goodman, Managing Director at Mobitainment, explains more about what makes WhatsApp and CM.com’s Business Messaging API so attractive, "We have found the platform to be reliable, with a fast response and great performance – nearing the response times of USSD but without the timeouts and character limitations."
Stewart Mackay, Senior Business Development Manager at CM.com, adds, "We knew that if Mobitainment and BASA added the WhatsApp Business API to their existing toolset via our Business Messaging API, something incredibly creative and impactful would be the end result."
In a mobile-first world where our phones connect us to individuals and businesses every day, using WhatsApp for business messaging opens the door to more customers and more creative opportunities, with improved engagement through images, videos, voice notes, pin locations, virtual assistants, and more.
“Our experience with the WhatsApp chatbot on the Debut Programme has opened new possibilities through increased accessibility and inclusivity to information and participation. It is definitely a digital equalizer, and creates opportunities for brands to reach out to help bridge the digital divide in South Africa,” says Candice.
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