In case you missed it: new social apps have taken over the time and attention of an entire generation of millennials. Led by WhatsApp and WeChat, they are enabling simple, fast, and free communications including 1:1 and group chats, calls, as well as the sharing of videos, photos, GIFs, emojis, and files.
The adoption and growth rates are astounding
WhatsApp is now the world’s most popular messaging application with 1.3 billion monthly active users, including almost 20 million in the U.S. Users today exchange 30 billion messages and are engaged in more than 100 million voice calls and 55 million video calls – every single day.
WeChat, from the Chinese tech giant Tencent, has grown from 50 million monthly active users to 889 million over the past 5 years. The platform encompasses messaging, ecommerce, and payments. It is marketed as a ‘lifestyle app’ with the ability to bring together activities including personal, retail and entertainment services, transportation services, food delivery, location services, and more.
The growth and appeal of WhatsApp and WeChat have also been aided by their use of end-to-end encryption that enables communications and transactions to be delivered privately.
The success of both places them with Facebook as the most desired mobile messaging platforms in the market today.
WhatsApp and WeChat for Business?
Not surprisingly, the familiarity and appeal of WhatsApp and WeChat has found its way into the work environment, where users are attempting to engage with each other and customers over their preferred channel of communication. As examples:
- Brokers and financial advisors using WeChat to market and sell financial products
- Healthcare professionals using encrypted messages to communicate health information with patients using ‘stickers’
- Multi-national firms collaborating with non-U.S. based pharmaceutical manufacturing employees over WhatsApp
In fact, WeChat indicates that 80% of users use WeChat for business – including coordinating and arranging tasks, delivering notifications, transferring files, and conducting meetings and calls.
Unique business challenges created by WhatsApp and WeChat
The use of social media is no longer a new phenomenon, but the use of WhatsApp and WeChat do add new complexities for businesses who require visibility into how these tools are being used. First, the use of encryption makes the process of inspecting these types of platforms more challenging without automated tools to enable decryption. Secondly, both tools lack the publicly available APIs that would enable third parties to automate the capture of those communications sources. Without APIs or automated approaches to capturing content, firms may be reliant on manual methods of user-driven back-ups or screen shots of social activity – neither of which provide a strong defense from legal or regulatory scrutiny.
Speaking of regulatory scrutiny – regulators have become more consistent in mandating that firms not allow use of communications tools that cannot be captured. As examples:
- FINRA Regulatory Note 17-18: “Every firm that communicates […] through a messaging app must first ensure that it can retain records of those communications as required by SEA Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4 and FINRA Rule 4511.”
- MIFID II Article: “All electronic communication must be retained […and] firms must take all reasonable steps to avoid communications over channels that cannot be captured”.
- HIPAA HITECH Privacy Rule: Firms must protect “all individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral.”
In fact, regulatory scrutiny has already appeared in 2 instances where WeChat content was used in violation of industry requirements, resulting in fines of roughly $50K in each instance.
So, how can firms prepare given the inevitable use of WhatsApp and WeChat within their organizations?
How Actiance can help
Actiance’s leading social media compliance solution, Actiance Socialite, now supports the capture for WhatsApp and WeChat content to enable:
- Automated, real-time message capture of all content, while preserving its conversational context
- Capture of 1:1 messages, group chat, photos, and emojis directly from the native WeChat mobile app
- Delivery of all content and context to Actiance Alcatraz to retain, supervise, and review in its native format, or delivery to legacy email archive tools
Actiance’s WhatsApp and WeChat beta programs are now open. Email email@example.com to get access today.
Also check out today’s press release announcing Socialite for WhatsApp and WeChat.
Click here to view the pdf.