WhatsApp is an extremely popular platform. But is it a social media platform like Facebook and Instagram?
Is WhatsApp considered social media?
Yes, it is, for multiple reasons. WhatsApp is a social media platform, but unlike Facebook or Instagram, it does things differently.
In this article, you’ll learn why WhatsApp is considered social media and for what reasons.
The app does more than allow people to send messages. It has many functions.
Keep reading to find out more!
What Is Social Media?
Technically, it’s a web-based application on the internet that lets users create, access, and exchange content with one another.
This is what social media is. And WhatsApp falls under every category mentioned above.
You can send messages, pictures, videos, GIFs, and links to other people. You can share content from the web on WhatsApp.
You can even create videos and share them on WhatsApp.
According to a 2011 study, 7 factors make up a social media platform:
- Identity – What users reveal about themselves
- Conversations – How users communicate
- Sharing – How users exchange content between themselves
- Presence – How users know if other users are available or not
- Relationships – How users relate to one another
- Reputation – How users know other users by their social reputation and content
- Groups – How users can form groups and communities
By applying these factors to WhatsApp, we’ll see if the app is a social media platform or not.
1. Identity on WhatsApp
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram let users share their identities online.
This means sharing your name, occupation, gender, age, education, or hobbies.
WhatsApp only lets you share your name, profile picture, and online status through the interface. It doesn’t go beyond that.
But through messaging, you can choose to reveal other details about yourself.
So, WhatsApp conforms partially to the identity principle of social media.
2. Conversations on WhatsApp
WhatsApp was originally designed as a texting app. So, in this category, it rises above other social media platforms.
You can have private conversations or form groups of people on WhatsApp.
The app even lets you call other people through the in-built calling feature.
There are no ads and no hidden fees. WhatsApp texting is free, and anyone can use it at any time.
So, WhatsApp is a social media platform based on this factor.
3. Sharing on WhatsApp
You can share anything you can think of through WhatsApp – photos, videos, files, archives, links, etc.
You can share your content with a single person or with multiple individuals. The choice is yours.
There’s no system for liking or reacting to shared content. So, the shared content tends to be more genuine.
WhatsApp lets you share content with someone, even if you’re on a voice call with them.
4. Presence on WhatsApp
WhatsApp shows the users’ presence on the app by default. It’s the “last seen online” status.
You can choose to hide it and freeze the “last seen” status. People won’t know when you’re online that way.
Either way, WhatsApp checks the box for “user presence” because you can know when someone is online at any time.
Or how long ago they’ve been online.
The app also lets you post temporary statuses (photos or 30-second videos) that will disappear after 24 hours.
5. Relationships on WhatsApp
This is a controversial topic, but many people argue that WhatsApp is a more engaging social media than Facebook.
It encourages one-on-one relationships and communication. It makes social engagements more personal.
You can make a new friend instantly on WhatsApp. And you can maintain a relationship with someone without too much effort.
Talking as opposed to liking is seen as a more active form of participation in social games.
WhatsApp keeps active relationships rather than passive ones!
6. Reputation on WhatsApp
This is where WhatsApp strays from the pack of social media platforms
It doesn’t encourage or enable reputation building on the platform.
Sure, you can post status updates and share cool stuff with all your friends, but it can be time-consuming and complicated.
Plus, there’s no system to react to posts. You can’t like or respond to them as you do on Facebook.
You can comment, though.
And if you form groups, you can build a reputation in that group. But WhatsApp doesn’t encourage reputation building that much.
7. Groups on WhatsApp
WhatsApp groups are tight-knit communities with a maximum of 256 members.
They’re very active and promote a lot of activity and engagement. In many ways, they’re much more engaging than Facebook groups.
Everything is more personal here, and everyone knows everyone due to how few members are in a group.
There’s group identity, and everyone participates in that identity.
People from various WhatsApp groups based on different topics and goals. There are meme groups, gaming groups, and so on.
Or you can form a Workgroup for sharing work documents. Families also include family groups on WhatsApp.
Other people can only get in a WhatsApp group if invited. They can’t find the groups anywhere to join them.
Different Types of Social Media
There isn’t just one type of social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok they’re not identical.
While they use similar principles, they’re not the same. Some use more social features, while others limit themselves to only a few.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not social media platforms.
In essence, a social media platform is where users can express their thoughts and feelings to others.
You can do that on WhatsApp, even at a small and select scale. The app is more privacy-focused but still allows you to communicate with people.
Social engagement is encouraged but not in a large-scale, passive way like on Facebook.
Everything is more personal on WhatsApp. You need to be active to socialize.
All in all, WhatsApp appears to be a type of social media platform and not simply a messaging app.
It’s not as complex as Facebook or Twitter, but it allows users to socialize and express themselves through more than words.
You can send images, videos, GIFs, links, and more on WhatsApp.
You can also form groups and earn a social reputation within that group.
Yes, WhatsApp is a social media platform!
Is WhatsApp the best social media?
It depends on what you’re looking for.
If you only want to text other people, then WhatsApp is better.
Send text, pictures, videos, links, emoticons, and GIFs on WhatsApp without stress!
It may not be as advanced as Facebook, but many prefer WhatsApp over other social media platforms.
It could be said that WhatsApp doesn’t cause such an addiction as Facebook or Instagram do.
That’s because WhatsApp doesn’t encourage the dopamine rush type of social engagement that other social media platforms push.