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Using WhatsApp to reach minority & marginalised communities

COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many people and organisations globally. This has altered the way people connect, communicate and access information with more groups, individuals and news dissemination organisations opting for texting services to reach their audience.

WhatsApp which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, is one of these core texting services that groups are opting for.

As charities and small local groups work to engage with the immigrant and marginalised communities, the levels of their engagement on WhatsApp has grown exponentially.

One such organisation is Documented. It’s co-founder Mazin Sidahmed argued that they as WhatsApp is the main form of communication outside of the English- speaking world Documented adopted it to conduct research about the needs and habits of immigrant communities. As a result of the findings, Documented decided to launch a weekly newsletter in Spanish which is distributed via WhatsApp. Documented has been able to enlarge their audience on WhatsApp, despite numerous challenges.

Investing in trustworthy partnerships is important in developing extensive networks and growing audience dramatically.

Issues such as language barriers, interpersonal relationships and trust levels within people sharing contacts in WhatsApp makes it easy to develop extensive contents sharing levels. Reaching out to organisations working with immigrants, local service providers, and different language or interest levels also helps in creating links and networks where trust helps individuals to willingly share their WhatsApp contacts and contents.

WhatsApp also helps with communication during the Covid-19 breakdown as it makes it easy to engage people, organise QAs with experts to discuss healthcare options, training and job opportunities, access to resources and opportunities, changes in immigration rules and ways to address and counter fake news.

However, people need information which they can use, not information about the latest policy decisions and media reports which they perceive as irrelevant and nonessential. Instead, they want to feel that the information provided has resonance with them and addresses issues affecting them, especially those that they are worried and uncertain about.
They feel respected and supported when the information they receive from those they entrust with their WhatsApp contents is supportive and accommodate their needs accordingly.

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