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Key Concepts and Terms for the WhatsApp Business Platform with Twilio

When you use the WhatsApp Business Platform with Twilio(link takes you to an external page), you connect with users on the world's most popular messaging app, all with the power of the Twilio APIs.

WhatsApp is a highly-regulated channel, and getting started requires documentation and approval from Facebook. This document covers the common key concepts and terms that you will encounter when you use the WhatsApp Business Platform with Twilio.

The "24-hour window" or "24-hour session"

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WhatsApp regulates when and how you can send messages with your end users. When an end user sends your business a WhatsApp message, it kicks off a 24-hour WhatsApp "session" or "window" during which you can send free-form (non-templated) messages to the user. A WhatsApp session lasts for 24 hours after the last inbound message you receive from a user.

Outside of a WhatsApp session, you may only send a message following a pre-approved template to the user. Any message that doesn't match a pre-approved template is considered a free-form message. For more information, please read below and reference our guide to using templated messages for WhatsApp notifications.

WhatsApp enforces a separate 24-hour windows per conversation category. This means that there can be multiple concurrent conversation sessions at any time. There are 4 conversation categories: marketing, utility, authentication and service. A service conversation is a user-initiated conversation - when you respond to your end user, the service conversation begins. The remaining 3 conversation categories are business-initiated conversations. If you send three templates of three different categories, this will start three separate 24-hour sessions, each with their own charge from Meta. The conversation category is determined by the category of the template used to start the conversation. The template category is determined at Meta's sole discretion when it's submitted for approval. Learn more in our pricing page(link takes you to an external page) or WhatsApp's docs(link takes you to an external page).

WhatsApp Templates Are Required for Notifications

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Outside of the 24-hour WhatsApp session, your business can only send messages following pre-approved templates to your end users. Some of examples of these templated messages are:

  • "Your appointment for {{1}} is {{2}}. Need to reschedule? Tap below to reply."
  • "Your {{1}} delivery is on the way. It should arrive {{2}}. If you have any questions, please reach out."

In the above examples, {{1}} and {{2}} are the message-specific information for a given end user.

When you get started with the WhatsApp Business Platform with Twilio, you can submit templates for approval by WhatsApp. Learn how to send messages with WhatsApp templates.

WhatsApp Business Account (WABA)

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A WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) is required to register a WhatsApp Sender and send and recieve messages on WhatsApp using Twilio. All WhatsApp Senders and Templates must belong to a WABA.

There is a 1 to 1 relationship between a Twilio account, subaccount, or project and a WABA. In other words, you may only have one WABA in a Twilio account or subaccount and each WABA should only be connected to a single Twilio account, subaccount, or project. This means that if you have multiple accounts, subaccounts, or projects, then you will need to have multiple WABAs.

WhatsApp does not limit how many WABAs a business can have.

Meta Business Manager (Meta BM)

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In order to have a WhatsApp Business Account (WABA), your business must have a Meta Business Manager(link takes you to an external page) (Meta BM) account (formerly called Facebook Business Manager). Meta Business Manager is a tool through which you organize and manage your business within the Meta ecosystem. It is a separate concept from the WhatsApp Business Account (WABA)

Please consult Meta's instructions for creating a Business Manager account(link takes you to an external page). You may also do this when registering your first WhatsApp Sender using WhatsApp Self Sign-up.

Meta uses your Meta BM to verify your business' identity through a process called "Business Verification."

Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp

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The Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp(link takes you to an external page) is a tool created by Twilio for you to prototype and test sending and receiving WhatsApp messages before you are fully set up with a WABA and Twilio WhatsApp sender number. You can read more in our in-depth guide to getting started with the Twilio Sandbox for WhatsApp or our step-by-step Quickstart to WhatsApp.

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