On Thursday, Facebook-owned WhatsApp parent Meta Platforms (META.O) introduced WhatsApp Channels, a feature that the social media giant said would help make the app into a “private broadcast messaging product.” In a blog post, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Channels as a way for people to follow organizations and communities they care about. “When admins create a channel, followers can subscribe to receive text, photos, videos, and stickers from the group. Channels are one-way, so followers cannot interact back and forth with a creator.”
According to Meta’s announcement, users in Colombia and Singapore will be the first to receive access to the Channels tool, which it said will allow the World Health Organization, FC Barcelona, and Manchester City to share information with their followers. Over the coming months, the company said that Meta would expand the tool’s availability for users in more countries, including India, and eventually enable any user to create a channel.
The social network added that it’s building a searchable directory for channels and is working on ways to let admins turn off the discoverability of their content to prevent it from being found by people outside the groups they created. It also will continue to invest in security, especially encryption, that protects against snooping and keeps people’s private messages private even if the phone number that connects them to the service is compromised.
While the focus is on making the service a broadcasting tool, Meta says it will continue to focus on private messaging and that the security and privacy of people will be central to all features it adds. It will also expand its efforts to help people in areas where Internet connectivity is disrupted or blocked, allowing them to choose a proxy to connect to WhatsApp’s instant messaging and voice-over-IP services.
For marketers, the launch of Channels opens up a new avenue for businesses to reach consumers and share news and updates, which could lead to higher engagement levels. But to maximize the potential of this channel, they will need to understand how to utilize it properly. This includes ensuring the messaging is targeted and relevant to the audience and avoiding overdoing it with self-promotion or spamming. Companies should consider hiring a digital marketing consultant with experience managing WhatsApp accounts to help them develop and execute their strategy. This will help them ensure they are maximizing the opportunities that WhatsApp offers.