WhatsApp Channels: The News & Views So Far
WhatsApp just announced Channels: a brand-new feature that’s currently under development. The new functionality will allow individuals and organisations to send updates to WhatsApp users in a private, safe, and reliable way. Essentially, WhatsApp Channels is a one-way broadcast private tool housed within the WhatsApp app.
Channels are currently available for some WhatsApp users in Colombia and Singapore. The feature is currently being developed and WhatsApp expects to release it in a future update.
What are WhatsApp Channels?
The Channels feature offers a one-way broadcast tool for messages, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. WhatsApp plans to present the feature within a new tab called Updates. This separation will keep messages from organisations separate from individual or group chats with family and friends.
How will I know who to follow on WhatsApp Channels?
WhatsApp is developing a searchable directory to allow you to discover accounts of interest. You’ll be able to search for sports teams, local officials, companies, brands, and other groups to follow.
Organisations will also be able to include links in their other comms, such as email or other social media platforms, inviting their followers elsewhere to add them on Channels.
What makes WhatsApp Channels different from other social media platforms?
The level of privacy is the main difference between WhatsApp Channels and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. WhatsApp will protect the personal information of both posters and followers at every stage of the broadcast.
Followers won’t be able to see Channel admins’ phone numbers or profile photos. Similarly, admins and other followers won’t be able to view followers’ personal information, either. That means that the list of accounts that you follow will be entirely private.
WhatsApp says they will delete Channel updates from their servers after 30 days, or sooner if admins prefer. Admins will be able to block screenshots and message forwarding if they choose to do so. They’ll also be able to decide who to allow to follow them and whether they want their Channel to be discoverable in the searchable directory.
Will WhatsApp Channels be different from Telegram Channels?
From the description given by WhatsApp, it sounds like Channels will be very similar to the feature on the rival chat app, Telegram. Telegram Channels provide real-time updates from the influencers a user follows. This feature offers a more personal experience than other platforms due to the direct messaging system.
Telegram Channels are one-way communication tools where the influencer or owner can broadcast content to followers who receive notifications on their messaging app. Essentially, they serve as micro-blogs with concise updates that are easily digestible, yet informative. The nature of these updates makes the feature direct, effective, and impactful.
Will WhatsApp Channels be different from WhatsApp Broadcasts?
WhatsApp Channels will work in a different way to the existing Broadcast feature.
WhatsApp Broadcasts allow you to send the same message to several contacts at once. Setting up a Broadcast List allows you to repeatedly message the same group of contacts without having to select them each time.
When you send a Broadcast, it appears as a message in each individual contact’s chat. Recipients can reply directly within the chat, and replies won’t be sent to the other contacts on the Broadcast List.
In contrast, Channels will be a one-way broadcast messaging tool. This will be housed separately from individual chats under the new Updates tab.
Will WhatsApp Channels be secure?
WhatsApp says that Channels won’t be end-to-end encrypted, in contrast to their policy for Chats on the app. However, they have said that they’re exploring adding encryption as a possible option for the future.
How do I set up a WhatsApp Channel?
WhatsApp hasn't released details for how to set up a WhatsApp Channel yet, but we will add an update as soon as the feature is released.
How could businesses use WhatsApp Channels?
Small, medium, or large businesses could all benefit from using WhatsApp Channels when the feature becomes widely available. Channels would allow businesses to privately send one way updates to their followers on a range of topics.
WhatsApp Channels will be useful for sole traders and freelancers. For example, personal trainers could have a WhatsApp Channel for sharing testimonials, fitness tips, and updates that offer genuine value to their followers. Likewise, marketing freelancers and business coaches could utilise these channels for broadcasting insights and coaching tips.
Small independent businesses selling specific products could also benefit from a Channel. For example, an independent car sales company might create a WhatsApp Channel to share photos of new cars as they become available. Estate agents may create status updates when a new property comes onto the market.
Larger companies could also benefit from using WhatsApp Channels for their marketing comms strategy. Big brands and businesses could advertise sales, events, or promotional offers on the platform.
Why should I be interested in WhatsApp Channels?
With Meta continuing to push WhatsApp as an exciting place to do business, more companies than ever are getting on board. Similarly, customers are increasingly expecting to be able to connect with companies and brands via WhatsApp. It’s becoming essential for small, medium, and large businesses to have a presence on the platform.
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