Meta is good at making surprises. It is evident from the introduction of WhatsApp communities in July 2022. Now here is another great update that puts the company on par with its rival, Telegram. It is the introduction of WhatsApp channels. The Meta press release was like the following: “Today we’re excited to introduce Channels: a simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations, right within WhatsApp”.
You can access it in a new tab called Updates, along with statuses. Channels are basically one-way broadcast tools where admins send messages to followers. Followers cannot reply or interact with the admin or each other directly within the channel. If you are a Telegram user, you will not be excited about the move. I think neither you nor Telegram are excited by this.
You might be wondering how the two compare to each other. So, I am presenting you with the WhatsApp channels vs. Telegram channels comparison post. Let’s check them out.
Both look the same. It is obvious that both platforms allow unlimited subscribers and followers and allow a maximum range of content types, including text, images, videos, stickers, polls, etc. But they also have distinct differences in terms of features, functionality, and use cases.
Creating a channel is not something new to us. We know how to create channels on YouTube, Twitch, etc. But here is a catch:
- WhatsApp Channels: Meta has promised that they will allow everyone to create a channel. But in the meantime, only verified accounts like a business or a celebrity can start WhatsApp channels.
- Telegram Channels: Presently, there is no limit on the number of people joining any of these channels. Both services support unlimited followers and subscribers.
Both services support private and public channels. Admins can decide who can follow their channel and whether they want it to be discoverable or not. But there is a little confusion when it comes to the interface department.
- WhatsApp channels: There is a dedicated Channels section where you can discover new channels. Simply go to the Updates tab and tap the Find channels button, represented by the + button. There is a searchable channel directory where you can filter WhatsApp channels, like most active, popular, and new. You can also filter the WhatsApp channels based on countries.
- Telegram channels: As there is no dedicated channels tab, use the search icon at the top of the home screen. Type the channel name, and channels will show up in the results. There is no option to filter channels based on their activity, popularity, or source country. The subscribed channels will appear in the All Chats section of the Telegram app.
- WhatsApp channels: Muted by default. If you join a channel, you will not receive its notification unless you manually unmute it. Ask yourself why. WhatsApp is primarily a messaging platform, and you should not miss out on important messages even when following a channel.
- Telegram channels: Not muted by default. But you can manually mute notifications within the app itself. Whenever I open the Telegram app, it reminds me of my spam folder in my email. It feels annoying, right?
As the name suggests, channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers. The recipients cannot reply to messages sent to the channel. But both services offer different interaction options for messages.
- Reactions: In WhatsApp channels, you can interact only with six basic emojis, and no custom emojis can be used. On the contrary, Telegram Channel admins can choose from a range of emojis to be allowed in reactions.
- Group link: Telegram admins can link a group to the Telegram channels where discussions on channel updates are allowed. When a group is linked, subscribers will see a comment button under each post on the Telegram channel. Presently, there is no such option in WhatsApp.
What’s there in a name? Actually, it matters a lot. We have created a handy blog to help you answer the same question. So check that out here.
Now coming back to the channels.
- WhatsApp Channels:
- As you know, WhatsApp comes from the house of Meta; they call their members followers rather than subscribers.
- Telegram Channels: Both subscribers and followers are technically the same. But Telegram calls the members that join a channel Subscribers.
Both channels support a wide range of content types, including text, images, videos, documents, stickers, and polls. When a message is forwarded in the same app, it will include a link back to the channel so people can find out more.
- WhatsApp Channel: WhatsApp provides the WhatsApp Business API for businesses to integrate with their systems for customer support and communication. But there is no such thing as a Telegram bot to automate messages and engage with users on the go.
- Telegram Channel: Telegram’s Bot API allows businesses to create interactive bots that can provide automated responses, engage with users, and offer services within channels. It comes in handy for businesses handling a large number of clients/ customers.
On both platforms, users can see the chat history of a public channel even without joining it. You can also react using emojis to give feedback. How you react will not be shown to followers.
- WhatsApp Channels: Messages in WhatsApp channels will be automatically deleted after 30 days. As Meta said, “We don’t believe channel updates should have to stick around forever. So, we’ll only store channel history on our servers for up to 30 days. Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channel”.
- Telegram Channels: The messages sent in Telegram channels stay there until the admin deletes them. So when a user joins any of these channels, it is highly probable that they will see the entire message history.
Following a channel will not reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers. Who you decide to follow is your choice, and it’s private. The feature is there on both platforms. But still, there is a slight divergence between both of these platforms.
- WhatsApp: In its press release, Meta said “Our goal is to build the most private broadcast service available”. So who follows is your choice, and it is private, yay. Merely following a channel will not expose your personal data to admins or members. As a channel admin, your phone number and profile photo won’t be shown to followers.
- Telegram: Given the aim of Channels is to reach a wide audience, channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default. However, your data is not that private, unlike WhatsApp.
Both platforms follow a decentralized administrative mechanism where admins and users are in control and not the other way around. But still, there are distinctions between them.
- WhatsApp Channels: Adding additional admins to a channel is unavailable at this moment. Presently, there is no option to add channel bots to help administer the WhatsApp channel.
- Telegram Channels: Lets you add additional admins to a channel. The option to add bots in the channel are an added advantage to help automating business channels. Telegram’s platform provides more flexibility, features, and tools for managing and engaging with subscribers.
It is necessary to know the cost-benefit ratio of our effort. So every social media platform needs to provide its business users with channel metrics to help them make informed decisions and rectify past mistakes.
- WhatsApp Channels: WhatsApp doesn’t offer the channel metrics feature except for admins. But both apps show the number of reactions received on each message.
- Telegram Channels: All the subscribers of a Telegram channel can see how many people have viewed each channel message. You will see an eye icon at the bottom-right corner of the message, along with the count.
I believe it is too early to arrive at a conclusion. It is sure that Telegram is not happy with the new channel update. But it is also sure that Meta will not stop releasing something new every year. They have promised to allow end-to-end encryption in channels with a limited audience, like those administered by non-profit organizations. In the coming days, you will see WhatsApp as an important platform for influencer marketing, making it integral to businesses seeking to connect with their target audiences.
The question of who will bell the cat will be known only after a couple of months. However, it is sure that both platforms will stay together, as both offer unique features catering to different needs.
So, have you explored these broadcast messaging platforms yet? Do you think the WhatsApp channel feature will make Telegram shy? Let us know in the comments below.