Facebook Makes Messaging More Colorful In WhatsApp

As part of its full-frontal assault on Snap, Facebook is making it more fun to send and receive messages via WhatsApp. When sending out Status updates, WhatsApp users can now overlay text messages onto colorful backgrounds.

Unveiled in February, Status is WhatsApp’s version of Snapchat Stories. With it, users can share photos, videos and GIFs, which disappear after 24 hours.

Like other Snapchat-like features, Status has proven to a hit among users. At the end of July, the feature surpassed 250 million daily active users, according to internal figures.

More broadly, WhatsApp recently surpassed 1 billion total daily users, and 1.3 billion monthly users.

Despite the impressive figures, WhatsApp isn’t yet the crown jewel of Facebook’s portfolio. In part, that’s because the social giant has struggled to monetize the messaging services along with Facebook Messenger.

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“Although Messenger is widely used … consumers have been slow to warm up to the idea of interacting with chat bots and paid advertising in messaging applications,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson, said earlier this year.

“Facebook has faced scrutiny in Europe over its plan to merge data from WhatsApp with data from Facebook,” Williamson noted. “These scenarios tell me that generating significant ad revenue from Messenger and WhatsApp is still a ways off."

Continuing its effort to out-Snap Snap, Facebook also began inviting Messenger users to add animated reactions, filters, masks and other effects to their video chats.

For Facebook, copying right from Snap’s playbook has proven successful. For example, since adding Stories last summer, its Instagram unit has seen the feature embraced by 250 million daily users.

Instagram also recently added “face filters.” As with Snapchat, users can augment their selfies with swirling math equations, a wreath of flowers, furry koala ears and other tricks.

As of April, Messenger boasted more than 1.2 billion monthly active users. The growth is impressive, considering the competition that Messenger is facing, including from other Facebook-owned apps.

If not at the expense of Messenger, Facebook is investing significant resources into Direct, Instagram’s own messaging feature. The social giant just streamlined Direct. It will now present users’ permanent and disappearing messages in one thread.

Since its lastest update in late 2016, the number of people using Direct has grown from 300 million to 375 million, per internal figures.

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