WhatsApp: How are brand digital communities evolving?

Holly Eddleston on how communities can be built on social media

Holly Eddleston

Head of Influencer Marketing BIG little London


Our world is changing fast, and how we connect with one another is evolving too. We all know that with everyday life shifting to the digital realm, online communities are gaining more importance. A standout example in the UK is the beauty industry, where influencers and enthusiasts form close-knit communities on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Brands such as Rare Beauty or Fenty have thrived by collaborating with influencers, reaching an engaged audience and leveraging their authenticity to connect with potential customers. These communities connect people, foster loyalty, feedback, and brand advocacy.

97% of Gen Z shoppers look to social media for their primary shopping inspiration (Forbes, 2021). The hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit boasts a staggering 2.3 billion views on TikTok alone, while #amazonfinds reigns with over 6.7 billion views. 

Recognising this trend, WhatsApp has answered the call of consumers looking for seamless retail experiences by broadening its service offering to cater for highly personalised shopping experiences. The expansion from regular WhatsApp to WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Business API now allows brands to create digital communities of customers who naturally feel closer and more warmth to the brand, as communications occur within a platform synonymous with private chats with friends Zara has capitalised on this by making use of WhatsApp highly personalised shopping experience. Customers can join WhatsApp groups to receive tailored updates, making them feel valued and engaged. This level of personalisation strengthens the customer's connection to the brand creating brand loyalty and deep engagement. Allowing customers to shop directly through the WhatsApp platform, streamlines the buying process making it even more convenience to make purchase. It aligns with the modern consumer's desire for easy and efficient shopping.

Customers can join WhatsApp groups to receive tailored updates, making them feel valued and engaged.

Holly Eddleston, Head of Influencer Marketing, BIG little London

WhatsApp has billions of monthly active users and there are currently over 50 million companies worldwide using WhatsApp as a marketing and sales tool, yet it still isn't a mainstream method in the UK.

The absolutely brilliant Hellmann's "WhatsCook" campaign is content-driven and focused on engaging customers in a meaningful way. By allowing customers to send photos of their ingredients on WhatsApp, the brand fosters a sense of interactivity and participation. By responding to customer-submitted ingredients with tailored recipes, Hellmann's actively engages with its audience. This interactive approach makes customers feel heard and valued, building a positive brand perception.

The importance of WhatsApp groups in brand marketing varies depending on your specific goals and the preferences of your target audience. They can be a valuable addition to your brand marketing strategy but need to be used wisely. While they offer direct, personal communication, community building and cost-effective marketing opportunities, this must be balanced with content quality, relevance, privacy, and a commitment to actively engaging with your audience if brands are to turn this into a successful community building channel.

Guest Author

Holly Eddleston

Head of Influencer Marketing BIG little London


Holly has been in the dynamic realm of Influencer Marketing for 12 years, a time span that harkens back to the "wild west" era when makeup brands bartered lipsticks for Zoella's endorsements, long before the ubiquity of the #Ad disclaimer. It's noteworthy that the term "Influencer Marketing" was yet to take its current form during her early days. Her career began at Red Bull, and since then, she has traversed a diverse landscape, serving roles in digital, advertising, and influencer tech agencies. Over the last decade, the role of influencer marketing has undergone a profound transformation. Holly's penchant for data is palpable; she revels in poring over campaign results, extracting valuable insights, and employing these findings to refine future strategies. She's a keen advocate of effective reporting, emphasising that influencer marketing plays a pivotal role in achieving a company's objectives. Whether it's driving downloads, generating sales, or reshaping brand perceptions, influencer marketing consistently delivers.

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