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Facebook allows brands to communicate with customers on WhatsApp

Facebook will integrate WhatsApp for businesses. Source: Reuters.

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook is rolling out new ways for businesses to find and chat with potential customers on its apps, the social media company said, as it seeks to become an online shopping destination.

The new features will help Facebook, already a leader in digital advertising, offer personalised shopping experiences to its users, said Karandeep Anand, vice president of business products at Facebook.

Facebook is rolling out new features that will allow businesses to better position themselves in front of relevant audiences. This includes updates that will let them reach, advertise, chat across Facebook apps, generate leads, and acquire more customers.

Businesses will now be able to add a button on their Instagram profiles to let people send a WhatsApp message to the company with one click. Integrating WhatsApp is particularly important for customers in countries such as India and Brazil, where the Facebook-owned messaging app is widely used, Anand said.

The company will tie WhatsApp to Instagram as part of this effort. Facebook explains that many businesses market themselves or run shops across Instagram but rely on WhatsApp to communicate with customers and answer questions.

Facebook said it will begin testing the ability for brands to send emails through Facebook Business Suite, a feature that lets businesses manage their presence across the social media site’s apps, in order to simplify how companies reach customers. It will also test new work accounts to let employees manage business pages without needing to log in with their personal accounts.

The new business tools come a day after WhatsApp began testing a new feature in São Paulo, Brazil, to let users find shops and services through a directory in the app for the first time, part of an effort to bolster ecommerce on the service.