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The news organisations pioneering WhatsApp
Facebook-owned Whatsapp is the world’s most popular messaging app, with particular strengths among the vast populations of South Asia, Latin America, and Africa, with new research demonstrating its importance to publishers around the globe.
Why it matters
In many regions, WhatsApp provides people’s primary social medium and is therefore important for content discovery. In Brazil, for instance, it ranks first for social platform use (83%) with just under half (48%) of Brazilians using it for news.
What’s going on
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, part of the University of Oxford, has explored the shift.
- Publications like Correio, a title based in the northern state of Bahia, use the app to build WhatsApp groups in which the paper’s digital team post and respond to members.
- The method brings in around a tenth of the paper’s online traffic, but editors insist it is about engagement – with subscribers now crucial to the health of publications, this relationship has potential.
- Group limits, designed to limit mass sharing of dodgy information or guerrilla marketing, remain challenging.
“We use the open groups as a source to know what people are talking about and sharing. We don’t mind if competitors’ content is shared. If it’s just Correio, you make the group feel artificial” - Wladmir Pinheiro, Correio digital content coordinator.
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