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3 minute read                                                                                                                         Beginner

Glific is a WhatsApp based open source communication platform for NGOs to have conversations with their community. It is being developed under Project Tech4Dev initiative of Chintu Gudiya Foundation.

Glific aims to empower social organisations to act decisively and quickly on grassroots information through a range of host of features ranging from automated responses to comprehensive analytics.

Whatsapp Chatbot #101

Here are a few things you should note when planning to use WhatsApp chatbot for your organization:

  1. WhatsApp Business API
    There are three ways to use WhatsApp, a basic app which we generally use to talk to our friends and family. WhatsApp business is meant for small businesses for small scale interactions with customers and allows basic automations like greeting and away messages. The third one is WhatsApp Business API which is meant for large scale two-way communication and it empowers businesses to do a lot more such as automate any amount of conversations, generate insights from it, schedule messages, send messages with buttons and a lot more - see here. WhatsApp Business API powers the WhatsApp based chatbots. When using WhatsApp chatbot, while end-users use their WhatsApp application, businesses log onto a different interface.

  1. Conversation Types
    Whenever a user messages the chatbot, businesses have 24-hrs to respond to their query (this is where chatbot helps). If the 24-hrs window closes, businesses can nudge the users to re-initiate conversation with a pre-approved template message only. To send messages outside of 24-hrs, businesses also need to get users to opt-in(or subscribe) to their number. If the contacts are not opted in and the window has closed, then you can only interact with them when they message you.

  1. Conversation Costs
    With WhatsApp chatbot businesses have to incur costs to talk to their end-user, read in detail here. In addition to this, there’s also platform costs where the chatbot runs.

  1. Chatbot Phone Number
    You can use any kind of phone number that is active - either a special number or any regular number works, it can also be a virtual or a landline number. You only need the number on the mobile phone during the initial set up phases for OTP verifications. You must not link the chatbot number with any WhatsApp or WhatsApp business application. It gets linked with WhatsApp business API when you set up the chatbot.

  1. Constraints & Features
    a. Optins: Businesses must get end-users to initiate the first conversation and get them to explicitly mark that they are okay with receiving WhatsApp messages from your organization. This process can happen through forms, redirecting users from your Facebook page, or getting them to optin directly on whatsapp when they send you the first message (at Glific we enable you to do it easily on WhatsApp).
    b. No Groups: WhatsApp business API doesn’t support groups functionality. You can only talk to your end-users in a 1-to-1 manner. You can broadcast messages to a large number of contacts but the conversation will be 1-to-1.

  • Message Approvals: When sending messages outside of to opted-in users, you need to follow the guidelines set by WhatsApp and get your message approved by them. These messages are called HSM templates. Within 24-hrs you can send any message without approval.
  1. Messaging Limits
    When you start your chatbot program, you can get as many end-users to send you a message as you want, but while sending a nudge message(HSM template) you can only send to 1000 contacts to begin with. When you messages to 2000 unique-contacts within a 7-days period, your messaging limit increases to 10,000 and similarly to 1,00,000.
  2. Facebook Business Manager Verification
    The most critical step to getting access to WhatsApp business API and starting your chatbot is to get your business verified from Meta. Your business should be registered, it should have a facebook page and a website. Read more here to know the complete process.