When watching Fear Factor, 1000 ways to die or some other dare-devil movie, usually they state clearly: “don’t try this at home”. Somehow I didn’t take that to heed and went for a whole 6 months without being able to communicate with the world. The case of when I got banned from Facebook is for another article.
In February 2013, I entered into an agreement with the local Facebook page, Dembare DotComs, where I would sponsor some airtime in exchange for some branded posts. One of the posts included my WhatsApp number, that encouraged people to inbox me a certain keyword then I would share with them “the top 20 secrets that the networks DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW“!!!
The post was a hit, well beyond my expectations. I had over 1400 (one thousand four hundred responses) in the space of four hours! This was every marketers dream, a hungry following. People all wanted (and I guess still do) to know how they could save on their airtime.
Responding In my folly I tried to respond to each and every message. I had overlooked the fact that WhatsApp HATES adverts, and don’t want their platform to be used for such. That’s the simple reason why they’re charging $1 per year for their app. Though Facebook may make its money from advertising to people, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum keeps a note on his desk from co-founder Brian Acton that simply reads, “No Ads! No Games!”
I turned off my internet connection, to stop the influx of messages, and started to respond to people. It was a matter of copy and paste. Not too difficult I thought. Then this came up:
A notification from WhatsApp that I am no longer allowed to use their service. I didn’t see this one coming. Tried what I may, it never worked. Turns out WhatsApp have a strict NO ADS policy. If you send 1000 contacts (or is it 500? I got conflicting numbers online) a message in a 24 hour period, YOU WILL GET BANNED!
That’s not to say those of you love birds that send back and forth messages will get banned, contrary. That’s sending to one contact. But if you try and send a message to 1000 of your customers (as a business) advising them of a sale that’s going on at your shop in uptown Harare, you will face the wrath of the instant messaging platform. They have it in their FAQ’s and in no way are they apologetic about it.
So for those of you that intend to use the service for business, be warned. I did manage to get back online, but this was only after 6 months or so, when WhatsApp upgraded and prompted everyone to download their new version. Not worth the risk I would advise. Use other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to market to your customers. Have a blog too.
But for now, stay away from bulk messaging WhatsApp contacts or even trying to use services such as WhatsAPI that claim to integrate with WhatsApp. You will get your number banned!