4 June 2021

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group: When to use which

Written by

Chee Yong Qing

Content Marketer


4 June 2021

WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group: When to use which

Written by: Chee Yong Qing, Content Marketer


The widely popular messaging platform WhatsApp is taking over both personal and business communications. 

To help businesses grow in their communication efforts, WhatsApp built WhatsApp Business to semi-automate business communications and sales.

WhatsApp Business offers opportunities to make more personal contact with customers, market your business, and generate more leads

Both WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group are features within the platform to broaden the reach of your messages simultaneously

But how are they different? How can we best use each feature?

Read on to find out as we introduce both WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group below!

The widely popular messaging platform WhatsApp is taking over both personal and business communications. 

To help businesses grow in their communication efforts, WhatsApp built WhatsApp Business to semi-automate business communications and sales.

WhatsApp Business offers opportunities to make more personal contact with customers, market your business, and generate more leads

Both WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group are features within the platform to broaden the reach of your messages simultaneously

But how are they different? How can we best use each feature?

Read on to find out as we introduce both WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group below!

What is a WhatsApp Group

WhatsApp Group is a 2-way communication feature where all group members share a common chat and are overseen by group admins. Every message sent is public — messages in the group are received by every other group member.

As such, WhatsApp Group chats are great for discussions and interactions.

An example of a WhatsApp group.

Since all group members will receive message notifications, WhatsApp Group is not a suitable platform to hold private conversations.

Features of a WhatsApp Group

Admin rights

The creator of the group can appoint other members as Group Admins. These admins have special access to control such groups.

For example, WhatsApp Group admins can freely add and remove group members. They can create invite links to let users voluntarily join your group chat. 

Admins can also create descriptions for the group chat such as including a short introduction to the purpose of the group and adding important links for easy reference.

Simultaneous messages

Messages sent by all members, including yourself, will be simultaneously sent and received by all other members. This makes WhatsApp Group a great feature to reach a large number of people at the same time.

Common list of recipients

A WhatsApp Group can currently hold up to 256 members. 

That’s quite a large number of people, considering that EVERY message sent will notify all other members. It’s great for an extensive reach, but you’d have to be careful and avoid spamming the chat group with too many message notifications.

Public messages and contacts

All group chat members can see both messages as well as the WhatsApp contact details of all other group members. This accessibility is helpful for members who may want to reach out to one another for a separate private conversation.

Chat history and read receipts

Easily refer to all messages sent by referring to the chat history. You can access the read receipt of messages you’ve sent, so that you can see which members have received and/or read the sent message. 

However, newly added members cannot see past messages, and neither you nor admins are able to check the read receipts of messages sent by other members.

Overcomes unknown and blocked contacts

In a WhatsApp Group, all messages sent will be received and notify all other members. 

This does not take into account if one contact does not have the contact of another member. It also does not take into account if one member has privately blocked another member. 

Conversations can still be held on WhatsApp Group even if members privately avoid one another.

Newly joined and exited members

All members will be informed on the group chat for every newly joined or added member. 

Similarly, the chat also displays when a member leaves or has been removed by an admin. Such transparency helps every group member keep tabs on who is still in the group chat.

Limitations of a WhatsApp Group

No control over chat

In a WhatsApp Group, not even admins can control the content of messages sent on the group. As a public 2-way communication channel, members have the freedom to express themselves. You can’t choose what members send, nor can you delete their messages.

This can make it difficult to regulate malicious members unless you outrightly remove them from the group. 

Also, members may choose to turn off notifications for the chat group. This means that any incoming messages to the group will be muted. If you are sending an urgent update or a time-sensitive message, this may affect the timeliness of your communication efforts. 😐

No privacy

Remember how members can all see each other's messages and contacts? Not everyone may appreciate that their numbers can be openly seen by every member of the group.

As a best practice, approach each customer and ask if they would like to join such a group chat, before actually adding them in. Using the group invite link feature is one such way to freely present an invitation without suggesting any obligation.

You should also maintain other channels of communication open for customers to privately provide feedback. This includes your social media sites, emails, and the option to schedule calls from your website.

Overcomes blocked contacts

Once again, this also comes with its downsides.

Perhaps some of your group members have bad histories with one another and prefer to stay out of each other’s way.

Again, we recommend inviting your contacts to the group chat, rather than proactively adding them in without prior agreement.

Maximum cap of members

While 256 members might seem like a lot, this can be a limitation if you have a large pool of customers that you want to add into a group. 

This can also be a challenge if you want to use the WhatsApp Group feature to broadcast messages while keeping 2-way public communication open.

No APIs or integrations

In WhatsApp Business, you can’t integrate a group chat with your CRM tools and other apps. 

This can be quite an inconvenience to manually log contacts into your CRM to follow up and keep track of your customers.

When to use a WhatsApp Group

Utilize the strength of a WhatsApp Group — having discussions. They are great for building communities for your business, such as discussions on feature requests or for others to resonate with feedback given and prompt a more urgent response from your business. 

Keep in mind that positive feedback on a group chat is like word-of-mouth recommendations, giving greater credibility to your business. Likewise, negative feedback on a group chat can spread like wildfire if it is not promptly addressed.

Some variations of communities include focus groups for discussion on a specific topic and working groups for projects and collaborations across many parties.

What is a WhatsApp Group

WhatsApp Group is a 2-way communication feature where all group members share a common chat and are overseen by group admins. Every message sent is public — messages in the group are received by every other group member.

As such, WhatsApp Group chats are great for discussions and interactions.

An example of a WhatsApp group.

Since all group members will receive message notifications, WhatsApp Group is not a suitable platform to hold private conversations.

Features of a WhatsApp Group

Admin rights

The creator of the group can appoint other members as Group Admins. These admins have special access to control such groups.

For example, WhatsApp Group admins can freely add and remove group members. They can create invite links to let users voluntarily join your group chat. 

Admins can also create descriptions for the group chat such as including a short introduction to the purpose of the group and adding important links for easy reference.

Simultaneous messages

Messages sent by all members, including yourself, will be simultaneously sent and received by all other members. This makes WhatsApp Group a great feature to reach a large number of people at the same time.

Common list of recipients

A WhatsApp Group can currently hold up to 256 members. 

That’s quite a large number of people, considering that EVERY message sent will notify all other members. It’s great for an extensive reach, but you’d have to be careful and avoid spamming the chat group with too many message notifications.

Public messages and contacts

All group chat members can see both messages as well as the WhatsApp contact details of all other group members. This accessibility is helpful for members who may want to reach out to one another for a separate private conversation.

Chat history and read receipts

Easily refer to all messages sent by referring to the chat history. You can access the read receipt of messages you’ve sent, so that you can see which members have received and/or read the sent message. 

However, newly added members cannot see past messages, and neither you nor admins are able to check the read receipts of messages sent by other members.

Overcomes unknown and blocked contacts

In a WhatsApp Group, all messages sent will be received and notify all other members. 

This does not take into account if one contact does not have the contact of another member. It also does not take into account if one member has privately blocked another member. 

Conversations can still be held on WhatsApp Group even if members privately avoid one another.

Newly joined and exited members

All members will be informed on the group chat for every newly joined or added member. 

Similarly, the chat also displays when a member leaves or has been removed by an admin. Such transparency helps every group member keep tabs on who is still in the group chat.

Limitations of a WhatsApp Group

No control over chat

In a WhatsApp Group, not even admins can control the content of messages sent on the group. As a public 2-way communication channel, members have the freedom to express themselves. You can’t choose what members send, nor can you delete their messages.

This can make it difficult to regulate malicious members unless you outrightly remove them from the group. 

Also, members may choose to turn off notifications for the chat group. This means that any incoming messages to the group will be muted. If you are sending an urgent update or a time-sensitive message, this may affect the timeliness of your communication efforts. 😐

No privacy

Remember how members can all see each other's messages and contacts? Not everyone may appreciate that their numbers can be openly seen by every member of the group.

As a best practice, approach each customer and ask if they would like to join such a group chat, before actually adding them in. Using the group invite link feature is one such way to freely present an invitation without suggesting any obligation.

You should also maintain other channels of communication open for customers to privately provide feedback. This includes your social media sites, emails, and the option to schedule calls from your website.

Overcomes blocked contacts

Once again, this also comes with its downsides.

Perhaps some of your group members have bad histories with one another and prefer to stay out of each other’s way.

Again, we recommend inviting your contacts to the group chat, rather than proactively adding them in without prior agreement.

Maximum cap of members

While 256 members might seem like a lot, this can be a limitation if you have a large pool of customers that you want to add into a group. 

This can also be a challenge if you want to use the WhatsApp Group feature to broadcast messages while keeping 2-way public communication open.

No APIs or integrations

In WhatsApp Business, you can’t integrate a group chat with your CRM tools and other apps. 

This can be quite an inconvenience to manually log contacts into your CRM to follow up and keep track of your customers.

When to use a WhatsApp Group

Utilize the strength of a WhatsApp Group — having discussions. They are great for building communities for your business, such as discussions on feature requests or for others to resonate with feedback given and prompt a more urgent response from your business. 

Keep in mind that positive feedback on a group chat is like word-of-mouth recommendations, giving greater credibility to your business. Likewise, negative feedback on a group chat can spread like wildfire if it is not promptly addressed.

Some variations of communities include focus groups for discussion on a specific topic and working groups for projects and collaborations across many parties.

What is a WhatsApp Broadcast

WhatsApp Broadcast is a 1-way communication feature where messages sent to several contacts will appear as a separate, private conversation. It allows you to simultaneously send the same messages to multiple people while appearing as if it was personally sent to every recipient.

An example of a broadcast message appearing as an individual message.

In other words, you’ll see the broadcasted message appearing as an individually-sent message in your private chats with each recipient. 

Features of a WhatsApp Broadcast

Simultaneous messages

WhatsApp Broadcast is efficient for mass messaging efforts, especially when used in tandem with WhatsApp templates. Simply select your list of recipients within the same broadcast chat to send them the same message.

Select your WhatsApp contacts to add them into a broadcast. Source: NovoChat

Select your WhatsApp contacts to add them into a broadcast. Source: NovoChat


For example, you can use the broadcast feature to send messages about store closures, upcoming promotions, and even delivery updates. All your selected contacts will receive the same message without you having to manually send each one.

Common list of recipients

You can create broadcast lists with selected recipients. 

This is convenient to concurrently message the same contacts repeatedly without having to reselect your recipient list again. However, do note that you can only create a list with up to 256 recipients. 

As the broadcast list is created by you, recipients can’t choose to leave the broadcast list. They can, however, choose to block your number if they no longer wish to receive regular and broadcasted messages from you.

Private messages

Since recipients will receive broadcast messages in their private chat with you, it is a good opportunity to have more of a personal touch in your correspondence with them. 🤩

If the recipient chooses to respond to your broadcast message, it turns into a conversation that your sales representatives can catch on to.

Additionally, it is better than a WhatsApp Group in the area of privacy. Since WhatsApp Broadcast works like a blind carbon copy on email, recipients do not have access to the contact information of other message recipients.

Broadcast history and read receipts

The broadcast chat is a helpful reference to look back on past communication efforts with the list of recipients, since all broadcasted messages to the list will appear there. 

From the same chat box, you can also refer to the ‘delivered’ and ‘read’ receipt of every broadcasted message to measure the reach of your messaging efforts.

Limitations of a WhatsApp Broadcast

Saved contact

For your broadcasted message to be received by your recipient, they would first have to save your contact in their address book.

Only contacts with your number saved will receive your broadcast message.

This is a huge hurdle for many businesses as customers rarely save a business’ contact number.

Maximum cap of recipients

The limit of 256 recipients in each broadcast list can also troublesome for larger businesses. 

If you have thousands of recipients to reach, you’ll need to create multiple broadcast groups and send the same message across them. Not so great for the original intention of a ‘broadcast’, right? 😣

Blocked contact and read status

Even if the recipient has saved your number, they can still block you from sending regular and broadcasted messages to them. Because you won’t receive any error notifications if you’ve broadcasted to a recipient that has blocked you, you might not even know that you’ve been blocked.

The read receipt of a contact will remain as 'delivered' even if they have blocked you.

The broadcasted message will remain as a ‘delivered’ status. You can’t tell the difference between being blocked, or if the recipient has their ‘read’ receipt setting turned off.

This can be a challenge as you’d want to know if a customer has blocked your number. Are you spamming them with too many unwelcomed messages? Or is there a problem that your customer service representatives need to follow up on?

No APIs or integrations

Because both features are available in WhatsApp Business, you can’t integrate it with your CRM tools and other apps. Imagine the horror of manually logging contacts just to set up a broadcast message to thousands of customers! 😣

Strict template guidelines

WhatsApp Business has a strict message format that businesses must abide by to broadcast messages to customers. 

These message templates need to be approved by WhatsApp, and this can take at least 1-2 business days. Think of the wasted time bouncing back and forth with WhatsApp if your templates don’t get approved!

This wasted time also delays the timeliness of the messages you originally intended to broadcast. 😔

You also can’t include message content that is deemed ‘promotional’, symbols, and emojis, and you can only send templated messages after a 24-hour session window.

When to use a WhatsApp Broadcast

The limitations of using Broadcast on WhatsApp Business doesn’t make it a bad option. The intention of some of these limitations is to prevent spam for WhatsApp users and protect their user experience.

That said, WhatsApp Broadcast is great for making announcements and giving updates to existing customers. These are usually generic messages that you’d want to reach a larger number of recipients.

They are also great for private surveys, when the recipients respond in their private chat with you. This requires greater effort to respond to every single chat, but a good option nonetheless if it is your intention to.

Non-promotional marketing efforts can also be broadcasted. Sharing discount codes or upcoming events can still engage your customers without infringing on WhatsApp’s ‘no promotions’ rule.

But if you ARE looking for a solution to overcome these limitations, look no further!

What is a WhatsApp Broadcast

WhatsApp Broadcast is a 1-way communication feature where messages sent to several contacts will appear as a separate, private conversation. It allows you to simultaneously send the same messages to multiple people while appearing as if it was personally sent to every recipient.

An example of a broadcast message appearing as an individual message.

In other words, you’ll see the broadcasted message appearing as an individually-sent message in your private chats with each recipient. 

Features of a WhatsApp Broadcast

Simultaneous messages

WhatsApp Broadcast is efficient for mass messaging efforts, especially when used in tandem with WhatsApp templates. Simply select your list of recipients within the same broadcast chat to send them the same message.

Select your WhatsApp contacts to add them into a broadcast. Source: NovoChat

Select your WhatsApp contacts to add them into a broadcast. Source: NovoChat


For example, you can use the broadcast feature to send messages about store closures, upcoming promotions, and even delivery updates. All your selected contacts will receive the same message without you having to manually send each one.

Common list of recipients

You can create broadcast lists with selected recipients. 

This is convenient to concurrently message the same contacts repeatedly without having to reselect your recipient list again. However, do note that you can only create a list with up to 256 recipients. 

As the broadcast list is created by you, recipients can’t choose to leave the broadcast list. They can, however, choose to block your number if they no longer wish to receive regular and broadcasted messages from you.

Private messages

Since recipients will receive broadcast messages in their private chat with you, it is a good opportunity to have more of a personal touch in your correspondence with them. 🤩

If the recipient chooses to respond to your broadcast message, it turns into a conversation that your sales representatives can catch on to.

Additionally, it is better than a WhatsApp Group in the area of privacy. Since WhatsApp Broadcast works like a blind carbon copy on email, recipients do not have access to the contact information of other message recipients.

Broadcast history and read receipts

The broadcast chat is a helpful reference to look back on past communication efforts with the list of recipients, since all broadcasted messages to the list will appear there. 

From the same chat box, you can also refer to the ‘delivered’ and ‘read’ receipt of every broadcasted message to measure the reach of your messaging efforts.

Limitations of a WhatsApp Broadcast

Saved contact

For your broadcasted message to be received by your recipient, they would first have to save your contact in their address book.

Only contacts with your number saved will receive your broadcast message.

This is a huge hurdle for many businesses as customers rarely save a business’ contact number.

Maximum cap of recipients

The limit of 256 recipients in each broadcast list can also troublesome for larger businesses. 

If you have thousands of recipients to reach, you’ll need to create multiple broadcast groups and send the same message across them. Not so great for the original intention of a ‘broadcast’, right? 😣

Blocked contact and read status

Even if the recipient has saved your number, they can still block you from sending regular and broadcasted messages to them. Because you won’t receive any error notifications if you’ve broadcasted to a recipient that has blocked you, you might not even know that you’ve been blocked.

The read receipt of a contact will remain as 'delivered' even if they have blocked you.

The broadcasted message will remain as a ‘delivered’ status. You can’t tell the difference between being blocked, or if the recipient has their ‘read’ receipt setting turned off.

This can be a challenge as you’d want to know if a customer has blocked your number. Are you spamming them with too many unwelcomed messages? Or is there a problem that your customer service representatives need to follow up on?

No APIs or integrations

Because both features are available in WhatsApp Business, you can’t integrate it with your CRM tools and other apps. Imagine the horror of manually logging contacts just to set up a broadcast message to thousands of customers! 😣

Strict template guidelines

WhatsApp Business has a strict message format that businesses must abide by to broadcast messages to customers. 

These message templates need to be approved by WhatsApp, and this can take at least 1-2 business days. Think of the wasted time bouncing back and forth with WhatsApp if your templates don’t get approved!

This wasted time also delays the timeliness of the messages you originally intended to broadcast. 😔

You also can’t include message content that is deemed ‘promotional’, symbols, and emojis, and you can only send templated messages after a 24-hour session window.

When to use a WhatsApp Broadcast

The limitations of using Broadcast on WhatsApp Business doesn’t make it a bad option. The intention of some of these limitations is to prevent spam for WhatsApp users and protect their user experience.

That said, WhatsApp Broadcast is great for making announcements and giving updates to existing customers. These are usually generic messages that you’d want to reach a larger number of recipients.

They are also great for private surveys, when the recipients respond in their private chat with you. This requires greater effort to respond to every single chat, but a good option nonetheless if it is your intention to.

Non-promotional marketing efforts can also be broadcasted. Sharing discount codes or upcoming events can still engage your customers without infringing on WhatsApp’s ‘no promotions’ rule.

But if you ARE looking for a solution to overcome these limitations, look no further!

How to overcome Broadcast limitations?

NovoChat is an omnichannel chat solution that overcomes these limitations in WhatsApp Broadcast. Freely broadcast messages without the restrictions of these rules. 😋

Novochat’s broadcasting dashboard allows you to send different messages to multiple recipients, including the use of a CSV. file.

Broadcast WhatsApp messages to all contacts, regardless of whether they’re an existing or new contact. Simply upload a list of contacts, type in a message and hit send!

Send personalized messages to each new contact by uploading a CSV. file.

You can also send personalized messages that address each new recipient. Send different messages tagged to each number by uploading a CSV. file with your recipients’ contact information.

With NovoChat, you avoid the hassle of WhatsApp templates being pre-approved before being able to send them. 🥳

Use NovoChat for your other messaging platforms too, such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and LINE!


💡Find out more on how to broadcast messages on WhatsApp using NovoChat right here!

How to overcome Broadcast limitations?

NovoChat is an omnichannel chat solution that overcomes these limitations in WhatsApp Broadcast. Freely broadcast messages without the restrictions of these rules. 😋

Novochat’s broadcasting dashboard allows you to send different messages to multiple recipients, including the use of a CSV. file.

Broadcast WhatsApp messages to all contacts, regardless of whether they’re an existing or new contact. Simply upload a list of contacts, type in a message and hit send!

Send personalized messages to each new contact by uploading a CSV. file.

You can also send personalized messages that address each new recipient. Send different messages tagged to each number by uploading a CSV. file with your recipients’ contact information.

With NovoChat, you avoid the hassle of WhatsApp templates being pre-approved before being able to send them. 🥳

Use NovoChat for your other messaging platforms too, such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and LINE!


💡Find out more on how to broadcast messages on WhatsApp using NovoChat right here!

Comparison

Here’s a brief table to compare the differences between WhatsApp broadcast and group. 👇

Summary table of comparisons between WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group

Comparison

Here’s a brief table to compare the differences between WhatsApp broadcast and group. 👇

Summary table of comparisons between WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group

Conclusion

Regardless of which option you use, please remember to always be ethical and refrain from spamming your customers. It will only reflect badly on your business and hurt you in the long term.

You can always use both WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group for different purposes. Decide freely on how you’d best like to interact with different customers. 

If you’re leaning towards WhatsApp Broadcast for your marketing efforts and want to skip all those limitations, get started with NovoChat for free and give it a try! 🤓

Start 7-Day Free Trial

Conclusion

Regardless of which option you use, please remember to always be ethical and refrain from spamming your customers. It will only reflect badly on your business and hurt you in the long term.

You can always use both WhatsApp Broadcast and WhatsApp Group for different purposes. Decide freely on how you’d best like to interact with different customers. 

If you’re leaning towards WhatsApp Broadcast for your marketing efforts and want to skip all those limitations, get started with NovoChat for free and give it a try! 🤓