Whats App Publishing Team 2

WhatsApp Publishing Team

Team Excellence Awards
Audience Development Team of the Year sponsored by UKOM

With huge changes to platforms challenging publishers, the need to create direct relationship with readers is more important than ever. And what better way to do this than by harnessing the power of WhatsApp, the most popular communication app in the UK? Reach created a team of experts in social media and newsletters to develop WhatsApp Communities to provide Reach’s portfolio of brands with a new way of reaching readers, building loyalty, and increasing registered customers through their phone numbers.

The Reach WhatsApp team has toured newsrooms across the UK to set up communities, train colleagues, and promote best practice while building a network of WhatsApp champions across the business to support and learn from each other. They have used data to understand how to drive open rates as high as 90 per cent and to identify and seize quickly emerging opportunities, like creating a new community specifically for updates about Liverpool FC’s search for a new manager. The depth of understanding they have developed has allowed them to provide dedicated communities that tap into their audience’s passions and interests - with the messages all delivered directly into one of the most-used apps on their phone.

To further their understanding of what readers wanted, Reach commissioned research which showed audiences loved their communities - describing it as their go-to place to get news and a real example of ‘thinking outside the box’. As well as sharing stories and videos with their WhatsApp audience, the team wanted to find a way to receive quick impactful feedback from them. To do so, they developed a strategy that included regular use of polls and emoji reactions, ultimately becoming a core part of Reach’s strategy.

Since the launch, the project team has trained more than 400 people in person on how to set up, use and promote WhatsApp content, as well share deep understanding and compliance on data protection rules which make their teams and publications safer and more secure than ever before.

The results have been staggering - from a small start in March 2023, they now have more than 150 communities with 150,000 members, delivering more than 3m page views a month.

A mixture of permanent and pop-up communities covering events like Eurovision and hard news like high-profile murder trials have been overwhelmingly successful. In the last quarter of 2023, WhatsApp introduced a Channels section which Reach were able to scale quickly, ending January with 1.4million followers and an extra 500,000 page views a month.

WhatsApp has become the referrer with the most engaged and highest converting audience making a significant contribution to the stability of Reach’s business and reducing the reliance on algorithms from platforms. For some titles it has become one of the most important referrers they have. They now have the biggest Arsenal FC channel in the world, backed up

by a series of high impact communities.

The team is tackling dependence on the algorithm lorry of big tech platforms by developing secure, direct, and highly engaged distribution channels they control by sending what they want, how they want it, and when they want.

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