Facebook purchases WhatsApp

Facebook, one of the largest and most dominating social media networks, recently purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion. WhatsApp is a five-year-old mobile messaging app that currently has about 450 million users globally. Prior to the Facebook purchase, WhatsApp had been reportedly gaining one million users per day.

With those kinds of numbers, it comes as no surprise that WhatsApp is currently the leader of smartphone-based messaging apps for young and old in North America, Asia and Europe. Because WhatsApp is a low-cost (less than $5 to download, with no monthly or further associated costs) application, the question remains, why did Facebook spend $19 billion on a company that isn't set to make any profit? In a word—diversification.

Social Media Diversification

Facebook reportedly purchased the company for its users. Just as Facebook recently purchased the popular photo sharing site Instagram, the company understands that industry diversification is necessary for growth. While we don't expect small business owners to spend excessive amounts of money to acquire their competitors, Facebook's business moves can teach us all a valuable lesson.

From their recent transactions, Facebook seems to understand that certain industry relationships are necessary for growth, especially in a world that is being driven more and more by online activities. For a small business owner, this means that you must understand what social media platforms are best designed for your industry diversification. In other words, are you an e-commerce business that is more likely to reach your followers through an active Twitter account? Do your Facebook weekly updates suggest that most of your users find you on this particular social media platform? Or maybe, the best social media plan for your small business is to devote efforts to a multitude of platforms? Whichever the case may be, it is important that, like Facebook, you realize how industry diversification is necessary for company growth.

Benefits of Social Media Diversification for the Small Business

  1. Network more easily with other industry professionals. While your company may be most successful on Facebook, due in part to their graph search feature, perhaps your competitors have decided that Vine is the place to be. 
  2. Adapt more readily to change. Social media diversification allows you to better reach your targeted audience, as well as adapt more easily if a network should experience difficulties. For example, only three days after Facebook purchased WhatsApp, the messaging platform went down for more than three hours. Across the globe, users were outraged. As a result, they took their frustrations out on Facebook. Now, as a small business imagine a scenario in which you only relied on one platform. If it goes down for any length of time, then you are losing out on connecting with your targeted audience.
  3. Stay on top of emerging trends. Across industries, social media platforms have become the go-to for trending ideas, market advice, viral campaigns, etc. With this in mind, having a diverse social media presence will help your small business to better position itself as a trendsetter vs. trend follower.

In short, Facebook's recent acquisition of WhatsApp has shown us the importance of maintaining a positive and diversified social media presence across a multitude of platforms.