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Twilio API for WhatsApp

Overview

The Twilio API for WhatsApp enables you to reach over 1.5 billion users on WhatsApp using a simple REST API, all in Twilio’s Programmable Messaging platform. You can send notifications, have two-way conversations or build chatbots. WhatsApp is the most popular OTT app in many parts of the world. If you're trying to reach – and better converse with – users in LATAM, EMEA, and APAC you need to consider using WhatsApp. Learn More about WhatsApp.

Twilio API for WhatsApp is now available in early access, which allows developers to start building and prototyping in a sandbox. In order to launch apps in production, you can request access to enable WhatsApp on your Twilio number. WhatsApp is currently opening up this access in a Limited Availability program, where WhatsApp approval is required for all customers who wish to create their own profiles.

WhatsApp Opt-In Requirements

WhatsApp requires that your application implement explicit user opt-ins to deliver messages over WhatsApp. You may gather this opt-in via a web page or mobile app (for example during your signup flow, in account settings, via SMS, etc.) Sending users messages without an opt-in may result in users blocking your business and suspension of your Whatsapp business account.

Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp

Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp allows you to prototype with WhatsApp immediately, without waiting for your Twilio number to be approved for WhatsApp.

It is pre-provisioned with a Twilio phone number that is shared across all sandbox users. You can pick from a list of sandbox numbers to use when you activate the sandbox via the WhatsApp console here.

Sandbox

Joining a Sandbox

In order to send or receive WhatsApp messages to a user from the Sandbox, you must first have them join the sandbox.

Send “join <your sandbox keyword>” to your Sandbox number in WhatsApp to join your Sandbox, and we’ll reply with a confirmation that you’ve joined. Your sandbox keyword can be found in the console.

Once they join, they will only receive messages from your specific Sandbox. To disconnect from the sandbox, they can reply to the message from WhatsApp with `stop`, or switch to a different sandbox by messaging `join <other sandbox keyword>`.

This limitation does not exist on your own Twilio number that you enable for WhatsApp.

Sandbox Limitations

  • You can only message users who have joined your sandbox. Messaging other users will fail
  • Sandbox supports functional testing. Load testing profile traffic is not supported
  • The Sandbox numbers are restricted to 1 message every 3 seconds
  • Sandbox numbers are branded as Twilio numbers
  • You can only use pre-registered templates with the sandbox for outbound messages sent outside a WhatsApp session. See more here.

There is no limit to the number of messages you can send via the Sandbox, nor any limit on how long you can use the sandbox. Sandbox messages are billed as usual, per pricing for Twilio API for WhatsApp.

Using Phone Numbers with WhatsApp

On WhatsApp, users message each other using phone numbers. To send and receive messages on WhatsApp using the Twilio Programmable Messaging API you'll need a phone number as well. The Twilio API addresses WhatsApp users and your numbers using a prefixed address format:

whatsapp:<e164 formatted phone number>

Enabling WhatsApp with a Twilio Number

In order to use WhatsApp messaging in production apps, you need to enable WhatsApp on your Twilio number. WhatsApp is currently opening up this access in a Limited Availability program, where WhatsApp approval is required for all customers who wish to create their own profiles.

In order to provision your own numbers, visit the WhatsApp Console and submit a request for approval from WhatsApp. Once approved, you will be able to select your Twilio numbers and apply for them to be WhatsApp enabled.

Currently, we are unable to enable WhatsApp on non-Twilio numbers; support for this is coming soon and we will update these docs once available.

Submit your Facebook Business Manager account

Once approved to enable your Twilio numbers for WhatsApp, you will need to provide Twilio with your Facebook Business Manager ID. If you do not already have a Facebook Business Manager account, follow instructions here to create one.

The Business Manager account is used by WhatsApp to associate your phone numbers with your business and to identify your business.

Your Business Manager ID can be found in the "Business Info" section under Business Settings.

BM.png

Manage and configure your WhatsApp-enabled Twilio numbers

You can request up to 5 new numbers to be configured for WhatsApp, manage your own templates and your WhatsApp profile on WhatsApp Senders page in Console.

WA Senders

WA Sender Page

WhatsApp Verified Accounts

Types of WhatsApp Business Accounts

There are two types of WhatsApp Business Accounts:

Name Description
Business Account Any account that is using the WhatsApp Business API is by default a Business Account.
Official Business Account

WhatsApp has verified that an authentic brand owns this account.

An Official Business Account has a green checkmark badge in its profile and next to the header in the chat thread. The name of the business is visible even if the user hasn't added the business to their address book.


Note: Very few businesses will be an Official Business Account. Being verified on Facebook or Instagram will not help your business be an Official Business Account.

How Your Business Appears to Users

Depending on your WhatsApp Account type, users will see different things. However, if a user has already saved the business number in their address book, the name from the address book will always be displayed. The phone number will still be visible in the contacts view. Please be prepared for users who may try to call this number and have a plan for how to handle these incoming calls.

Business Account

If it is a Business Account, the Verified Name will only be shown, in smaller text, in the contacts view; all other views will show the phone number. You can help customers learn more about your company by filling out your business info, including business website, address, and hours.

WA Business Account

Official Business Account

If the WhatsApp Account is an Official Business Account, the Verified Name will be visible in the chat list, chat screens, chat groups, and contacts view instead of the phone number. There will be a green checkmark beside the displayed name in the contacts view.

WA Official Business Account

Benefits of Official Business Account

WhatsApp Official Business Account offers customers the following benefits:

  • Verified Account badge - will show at the conversation header, making sure users recognize the business as Verified Business.
  • Named Conversations - incoming notifications will show the business name, rather than a phone number, leading to higher engagement and conversion rate, as the business is easily recognized, compared to messages sent from a phone number.
  • Mark the business as a known sender on a user device. Known senders benefit from:
    • Suppress the automatic suggestion for SPAM report/block showing in the conversation screen.
    • Enable embedded links from known senders are clickable.

How to get Verified?

To get verified, the business should go through the following steps. Note that approval is not guaranteed, and is subject to WhatsApp compliance team’s approval.

  1. Get the Facebook Business Account verified. Check your business information at https://business.facebook.com/settings/info, under Business Verification Status. If the account is showing “Unverified”, it will also show a link to get verified. Follow the process, and verify your account. More information about the verification process can be found here.
  2. Once the account is verified, open a support ticket with Twilio, requesting to apply to a WhatsApp Official Business Account with the following information: Screenshot showing your verified account status, the Business Website Address, the Facebook Page URL, and business name in languages other than English (if any). We will use this information to open a ticket with WhatsApp to get the account verified.

It typically takes up to 2 weeks to get an account verification review completed.

Sending Notifications

WhatsApp requires that business initiated Notifications sent by your application be templated and pre-registered, with the exception of messages sent as a reply to a user-initiated message (See the Conversational Messaging on WhatsApp section for more details).

To learn more, please consult our guide to sending WhatsApp notifications using message templates.

Conversational Messaging on WhatsApp

To have a 2-way conversation with a user, you need to receive messages from them. Users can send you a message in response to a templated notification or directly (see Discovery section below).

The WhatsApp "24-hour Session"

A WhatsApp session begins with a user-initiated message to your app. Sessions are valid for 24 hours after the most recently received message, during which time you can communicate with customers using free form messages. In order to send a message outside the 24-hour Session window, you must use a pre-approved template (See our guide to WhatsApp message templates.)

Discovery

You can have customers initiate a conversation with you on WhatsApp via URL schemes, embedded in web / mobile apps. If the user has WhatsApp IOS, Android or desktop installed, clicking the deep link will open a conversation with you inside of the app.

Deep link format : whatsapp://send?phone=<e164 number>&text=Hello!

Configuring inbound message webhooks

When customers send you a WhatsApp message, Twilio sends a webhook to your application. You can configure the URL to which Twilio sends a webhook when it receives inbound messages on the sandbox page and the WhatsApp enabled numbers page.

Optionally, on the same page, you can configure a Fallback URL. In the event of a fatal error while executing your primary webhook, Twilio will "fall back" to this secondary URL. When making the request to your Fallback URL, Twilio will submit the ErrorCode and ErrorUrl parameters, indicating the error code of the failure and what URL the failure occurred on.

whasapp-sandbox-inbound-webhook.png
whatsapp-numbers-config.png
Configuring Inbound Message webhook for Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp Configuring Inbound Message webhooks for your WhatsApp enabled Twilio number

Receiving a WhatsApp message

The webhook for inbound messages uses the same format as incoming messages, with the exception that To and From addresses will be set to WhatsApp addresses (whatsapp:<your E.164 number> and whatsapp:<User's E.164 phone number>) respectively.

Incoming messages may include text or media. Message text is included in the Body field and media will be included in the MediaUrl field. You can learn how to download incoming media included in a message in the Receive and Download Images on Incoming MMS Messages tutorial. Supported media include images (JPG, JPEG, PNG), audio files and PDF, with a size limit of 5MB per message.

For details on the data provided in the callback, find out how to handle Twilio HTTP Requests to your application in the overview.

Responding to incoming messages with TwiML

WhatsApp incoming messages are fully supported by TwiML, allowing you to seamlessly use your existing SMS app with WhatsApp. For more information, check out the documentation on how to use TwiML.

Sending a freeform WhatsApp message using the API

Within a WhatsApp session, you can send freeform messages using the Programmable Messaging API. Freeform messages may include text or media.

Weblinks in freeform WhatsApp message

Freeform WhatsApp messages that include weblink will display a web page snippet preview when received on WhatsApp client.

        
        
        
        
        Send a freeform message within the 24-hour session

        Send an outbound freeform WhatsApp Message

        Send a freeform message within the 24-hour session
              
              
              
              
              Send a freeform media message within the 24-hour session

              Send a freeform WhatsApp message with media

              Send a freeform media message within the 24-hour session

              Formatting in WhatsApp messages

              WhatsApp allows text, emojis and some formatting in messages. To format all or part of a message, use these formatting symbols:

              Formatting Symbol Example
              Bold Asterisk (**) Your total is *$10.50*.
              Italic Underscore (_) Welcome to _WhatsApp_!
              Strike-through Tilde (~) This is ~better~ best!
              Code / Pre-formatted Three backticks (```) ```print 'Hello World';```
                    
                    
                    
                    
                    Use symbols to format your WhatsApp messaage

                    Send a formatted WhatsApp message

                    Use symbols to format your WhatsApp messaage

                    Monitor the status of your WhatsApp outbound message

                    To receive real-time status updates for outbound messages, you can choose to set a Status Callback URL that Twilio will webhook to each time your message status changes to one of the following: queued, failed, sent, delivered, read.

                    You can set the Status Callback URL in the console (here for sandbox and here for your WhatsApp numbers), or when you send an outbound message and include the StatusCallbackUrl parameter.

                    If you set the Status Callback URL, Twilio will POST the MessageSid along with the other standard request parameters as well as MessageStatus and ErrorCode.

                    The parameters Twilio sends to your callback URL include all its standard request parameters and some unique messaging parameters. You can see the full list in the API Reference for the Message resource.

                          
                          
                          
                          

                          Send a location message with WhatsApp

                          Sending location messages over WhatsApp is similar to sending a text-based messaged with the addition of the PersistentAction parameter in your Twilio API requests with the following information:

                          • Body={name}
                          • PersistentAction=geo:{latitude},{longitude} OR
                          • PersistentAction=geo:{latitude},{longitude}|{label}
                          Name Type Required Description
                          name String Yes

                          The name of the location being sent (Location must exist in Google maps for the hyperlink to work on Mac/Windows WhatsApp client)

                          latitude Number Yes
                          Latitude of the location being sent
                          longitude Number Yes Longitude of the location being sent
                          label String No Optional free-form text to display under the location name

                          At this time, location messages are only supported within Session messages, within the 24-hour session of receiving an inbound message from a customer over WhatsApp. If the session has expired, you must wait for a new inbound message to trigger a new Session before sending them a location message. WhatsApp Message Templates do not support location messaging at this time.

                                
                                
                                
                                
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