Can WhatsApp be considered as a social media platform?
Maybe you’re having a debate with somebody else—one claims that WhatsApp is social media, while the other person says otherwise.
Or maybe you’re just curious about what category the app can be placed into.
There’s a lot of confusion going on as to whether WhatsApp can be considered as “Social Media”.
At times, an app can be placed into many different categories.
For example, a game can be categorized as both “Adventure” and “Action”.
This is dependent on the main purpose of the app including the field(s) that it’s related to.
In this case, WhatsApp can be used for multiple purposes, so it’s not only a messaging app.
In this article, you’ll learn whether WhatsApp can be considered as a social media platform based on its features.
What is WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is a messaging app founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum (former employees of Yahoo).
It was launched in the App Store back in August 2009 and in the Google Play Store in 2010.
In February 2013, WhatsApp hit 200 million active users and the company is valued at $1.5B after closing a Series B round with Sequoia in July.
A year later, Facebook acquires WhatsApp for $19B (its largest acquisition to date).
In the present, WhatsApp is used by over 2B users worldwide as a means of communication through text messages and media.
Is WhatsApp considered social media?
Yes, WhatsApp can be considered as social media due to its wide range of social features—messaging, profile creation, photo/video sharing, status updates, stories, and more.
WhatsApp is used by over a billion users every month to send text messages, photos/videos, etc.
With its extensive social features, WhatsApp can be considered a social media platform.
In a nutshell, WhatsApp is a messaging/social networking app that falls under the social media category.
By definition, social media allows users to express themselves via the sharing of photos, videos, ideas, information, etc.
WhatsApp’s features allow you to do all of those things.
There are many types of social media platforms—social networks, forums, review sites, etc.
Social media is a primary category, and everything that falls under it is a secondary category.
In this case, WhatsApp’s primary category is social media, while its secondary category is social networking/messaging.
In other words, social networking is a subset (sub-category) of social media.
Conclusively, WhatsApp can be considered as a social media platform.
Let’s get into all of its social features in detail.
1. Messaging and calls
Firstly, WhatsApp gives the ability for users to send text messages to each other.
This is WhatsApp’s main feature which simplifies communication with friends and family.
Back in 2015, WhatsApp introduced voice and video calling.
This enabled users to call others (even if they’re in another country) for free without decreasing their mobile plan’s minutes.
In addition, WhatsApp has a group chat feature where up to 256 users can be added to a group.
This makes it easy for people to send text messages and share media (photos/videos) with a large group of people.
With its messaging/calling features, and the ability to share media with a large group of people, WhatsApp can be considered as social media.
2. Profile Picture
Similar to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, you can set your own profile picture on WhatsApp.
The ability to set your profile picture is fundamental for social media platforms.
This allows people to see how you look like in person, which will make conversations more authentic.
On the other hand, if you’re talking to a person without a profile picture, it’ll seem as if you don’t have an identity.
You can also view other people’s profiles by tapping on it.
If you don’t want everyone to see your profile picture, there’s a privacy feature that allows you to hide it from people that are not on your contact list.
With the ability to set a profile picture and view profiles, WhatsApp can be considered as a form of social media.
3. Photo and video sharing
A social media platform enables people to easily share content with others.
Unlike social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter, you can’t share photos directly on your WhatsApp Profile.
However, you can share photos and videos via messages.
When you’re chatting with someone on WhatsApp, you can send them photos/videos from your camera roll.
Sharing media is simple—you tap on the camera icon, go to your camera roll and select a photo/video that you want to send.
You can also share photos/videos with a large number of people at once if you’re in a group.
As WhatsApp gives you the ability to easily send photos/videos to an individual or a group, it is considered social media.
4. Status sharing
WhatsApp is also known for status sharing.
Users can set a status on their profile to let others know how they’re feeling, what they’re currently doing, to share a quote, etc.
To set a status, go to your WhatsApp profile > about > change your status.
You can use WhatsApp’s pre-made statuses or type out your own.
Statuses are a form of expression, which is also a form of social media.
For example, if your phone’s battery is dying and you don’t have a charger available, you can change your status to “Battery dying soon”.
This is to inform others that you’re not intentionally avoiding messages.
Instead, your phone might have already died by the time someone looks at your status.
On February 24, 2017, WhatsApp introduced a new status feature that allows users to share “stories” on their profiles.
Prior to that, users can only share text statuses.
You can add a story on WhatsApp by going to your status > add to my status > camera > take a photo/video.
Alternatively, you can add an existing photo/video from your camera roll or a GIF to your status.
The feature is similar to Instagram and Snapchat stories where users can share disappearing photos/videos on their profiles.
The photos/videos that you share on your status will disappear after 24 hours.
All in all, stories give you the opportunity to share moments of your day with your friends and family, which is a form of social media.
Is WhatsApp the best social media?
WhatsApp has over 2B monthly active users as of March 2020.
This makes it the third most popular social network worldwide.
Here’s why WhatsApp is one of the best social networking apps:
- No fees: Free messages and calls.
- End-to-end encryption: Secure messaging.
- Media sharing: Easily share photos/videos.
- Group chats: Join or create groups to chat with a large number of people at once.
- Contact syncing: Easily connect with people in your contact list who have WhatsApp installed.
With these features in mind, WhatsApp is the prime choice for online communication in the present.
WhatsApp is not only an instant messaging platform as it utilizes the concepts of social media in its features.
It can be used for many other things such as adding photo/video statuses, sending media, and voice calling.
So, the next time someone else disagrees with the fact that WhatsApp is social media, counter them with these couple of questions:
- Can you share photos and videos on WhatsApp with others?
- Are you able to express yourself on WhatsApp via text?
If their answer is yes, then WhatsApp is a social media platform.
Social media, by definition, enables people to express themselves via the sharing of photos, videos, ideas, information, etc.
As WhatsApp allows you to do all of these things, it can be categorized as social media.