Gecko Chat supports adding a WhatsApp channel to handle conversations with students within our platform alongside other messaging tools. WhatsApp is currently restricting the availability of their APIs but we can request access on the behalf of each individual customer to gain the ability to process messages on your behalf through our platform. Due to the restrictions from WhatsApp / Facebook, we are required to go through a manual process in order to set up a new WhatsApp channel.
Here's how you get started:
Step 1: Facebook Business Manager
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, as such, they require all business WhatsApp channels to be linked to Facebook Business Manager. This is a service that allows businesses to manage their Facebook groups or pages, Instagram accounts and WhatsApp channels in a single place. As part of their setup requirements, Facebook asks all business WhatsApp channels to be linked to a Facebook Business Manager account. The Business Manager account is used by WhatsApp to associate your phone numbers with your business and to identify your business. To be able to set things up for you, we will need your Facebook business manager ID. Your Business Manager ID can be found in the "Business Info" section under Business Settings. Make a note of it.
If your institution doesn't already have a Facebook Business Manager account, you will have to set one up by following the steps outlined here.
Step 2: Set up an SMS channel in chat
Log into your Gecko Chat account and navigate to Settings > Channels. Create a new channel of type SMS and choose a number that you want to be ported across to WhatsApp. Make a note of the number you've acquired. Please note that you can also use an existing SMS channel if you already have one set up.
Step 3: Accept WhatsApp ToS
WhatsApp requires all end-users (i.e. in our case it's the university) to accept their Terms of Services.
Step 4: Submit a WhatsApp channel request form
Lastly, please submit this form and enter the number of the SMS channel, the Twilio account SID and the Facebook Business Manager ID into the appropriate fields. You will also be asked to provide some information about your intended use case, which will be used during the approval process with WhatsApp.
Once you complete the form, our support team will receive an alert and will go on to place a request to verify your SMS number with WhatsApp.
At the moment of writing, it takes WhatsApp anything from a few days to a full month to verify a number. This is outside of our control and we are grateful for your patience through this process.
Once WhatsApp is done verifying your account, the success team will inform you of the new channel and we recommend giving it a quick test to make sure it's working. Simply open the WhatsApp app on your phone, add a new contact with the WhatsApp number that you acquired earlier, and then start a new conversation to see it appear in Gecko Chat. If everything works, make sure you celebrate 🎉!
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