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WhatsApp Channels 101: A Comprehensive Feature Walkthrough

WhatsApp Channels 101: A Comprehensive Feature Walkthrough
Digital Marketing

WhatsApp Channels 101: A Comprehensive Feature Walkthrough

One of the most popular messaging platforms  WhatsApp under the ownership of Meta, rolled out the channel feature all around the world, including in India in June 2023. This feature offers a new way for users to receive important information and updates from any individuals or business organization within the WhatsApp ecosystem. 

In the following blog, we will look into various features and the importance of a WhatsApp channel. But before we dive deep into it, let us first understand what exactly is a WhatsApp channel.  

About WhatsApp Channels

WhatsApp Channels can be considered a one-way private broadcasting tool, that allows business organizations and individuals to send updates with the help of various types of content such as text messages, videos, photos, pools, stickers, etc.  While WhatsApp has been a popular messaging tool for years, the latest channel feature tends to expand the platform’s use as it allows users to follow and get updates from people and business organizations they are interested in. 

To aid users in discovering a WhatsApp channel that matches their areas of interest, WhatsApp is now working towards creating a searchable directory, a WhatsApp channels list. With the help of this directory, users can explore various WhatsApp channels based on their hobbies, favorite sports teams, favorite cuisine, favorite celebrities, important updates from local government authorities, and any other topic of interest. In addition, a user can also join WhatsApp Channels by clicking on the invitation links shared in emails, chats, or posted online on various other social media pages. 

Some of the top well-known celebrities, artists, sports teams, thought leaders, and business organizations from India and all around the world are already on a WhatsApp business channel. Say for instance you can follow the Indian Cricket team, Diljit Dosanjh, Katrina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, Vijay Deverakonda, Neha Kakkar, and many more celebrities from India on a WhatsApp Channel. According to recent reports, the WhatsApp Channel of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had more than 1 million (10 lakh) followers within 24 hours of going live in September 2023.

Key features of a WhatsApp Channel 

Some of the essential WhatsApp Channel features are as follows- 

  • Reactions: Users can only react with emojis as feedback to the content shared on the channel and keep track of the overall reactions. Also, the emoji reacted by a person will not be visible to his or her other followers.
  • Enhanced Directory: With the help of the enhanced directory feature, users can follow WhatsApp channels that are already filtered as per their country. Furthermore, users can also view channels that are new, more popular, and most active. 
  • Forwarding: Each time a business organization tends to forward an update to a chat or group, it will include a link back to the channel so that people can know about the channel details and give a follow-up.

Importance of WhatsApp channels 

WhatsApp business channels tend to offer various compelling advantages, especially for business organizations and brands who are looking forward to engaging with a larger client base.

  • Broadcasting messages to a larger audience group 

As per recent reports as of 2023, WhatsApp can be considered the most popular mobile messenger app worldwide with approximately two billion monthly active users, surpassing  WeChat at 1.3 billion users, and Facebook Messenger at 930 million users all around the world. 

Since the WhatsApp application already has a vast audience group, it becomes easier for business organizations to generate more leads and broadcast information to a larger group of targeted and potential audiences.  

  • Sharing information effectively

Real-time communication with customers is one of the effective ways by which a business organization can save time and improve overall feedback. When you invest your time and money into something, it is basic human nature that you want to feel valued. 

With the help of a WhatsApp business channel, business organizations can facilitate one-way communication and share timely updates and important announcements.  

  • Diverse content can be shared

Innovative and interactive content helps to grab the attention of the customers and keep them engaged. A business organization through a WhatsApp business channel can share a variety of content such as photos, text, videos, polls, and stickers for a better customer experience. 

  • Personalized and private

Users can follow WhatsApp Channels without actually sharing their phone number or any other personal information with new people who are not on their contact list. Users can follow any WhatsApp channel without any fear as the admin or any other members cannot contact them through a channel.   

In addition, anyone can create a WhatsApp Channel channel without actually revealing their phone number or profile photo to people who choose to follow it.

  • Better visibility 

Due to the enhanced directory features, a WhatsApp Channel is now filtered based on the country of the users. Moreover, Channels that are new, most active, and most popular will come first in the search list.  

Hence a business organization can increase its visibility and generate new leads with the help of a WhatsApp business channel.

  • Valuable insights and analytics 

With the help of analytics and tracking, business organizations can get valuable insight into the performance of their WhatsApp business channels.

Importance of WhatsApp Channels

Do we need a WhatsApp business account to open a WhatsApp channel?

It goes unsaid that to create a new WhatsApp channel, the user needs to have a WhatsApp account. Private users can use their regular WhatsApp application to set up a new channel, while a business organization can create a new WhatsApp business channel with a WhatsApp business application.

How to create a WhatsApp channel? 

Creating a WhatsApp Channel is a very straightforward process. Let us now look into a step-by-step guide for creating a WhatsApp Channel on the web-  

Step 1- Access WhatsApp Channels

Open WhatsApp on the Web, and then go to Channels by clicking the Channels icon

Step 2- Create Channel

Click the “Create channel” option.

Step 3-  Accept Terms and Privacy

Accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy by clicking “Continue.” Proceed by following the onscreen instructions.

Step 4: Give A Channel Name

Add a channel name to finish creating the WhatsApp Channel. Users can choose to change the name again at any given point in time.

Step 5: Customize The Channel (Optional)

Users can choose to customize their WhatsApp channels by adding a description and icon or wait until later. Writing a few words will help potential followers understand what is the channel all about. Furthermore, users can add an image as the channel icon to increase the visibility of the channel 

Step 6: Creation

Finally, Click the “Create channel” option and it is done! 

Now after a user has set up a WhatsApp channel, he or she can share a link to the channel from the channel info page by keeping in mind the following steps- 

Step 1: Open Channels by clicking the WhatsApp Channels icon.

Step 2: Click on the channel, and then the channel name.

Step 3: Click on the copy link.

It should also be kept in mind that a WhatsApp Channel comes with a 30-day content expiry policy. The data shared will be on the application for up to a month or 30 days, after which the content will be deleted automatically. Furthermore, WhatsApp channel administrators will have the authority to block screenshots and message forwarding within their channels.  It is up to them to choose subscribers and decide whether to list their channel in the directory for easy finding. 

It is interesting to note that sharing content and updates on a channel is somewhat similar to the way we share messages on a WhatsApp application with our friends and family members. However, there is a key difference. 

Update tends to appear on an entirely new tab called Updates. This update tab is separate from the user’s chats. It should also be kept in mind that the former Status tab has been entirely replaced by Updates. However, WhatsApp still shows the circular Status updates on top of the Updates page. Also, a WhatsApp Channel is not end-to-end encrypted like the original WhatsApp.

To share content from the WhatsApp channel web, the user first has to link the device that he or she is using for WhatsApp channels. 

  • Share written notes with the followers 

Step 1:

Click on the WhatsApp channel from the channels page.

Step 2:

Draft the message. The user can add formatting such as bolding, underlining, or strike through. To open the emoji selection menu in the WhatsApp application, the user has to click the emoji icon. In addition, he or she can also add a link with the message. This link will appear with a preview of the content and an image when available. 

Step 3:

After completing the draft, click the share option. 

  •  Share videos and images 

To share media like videos and images-

Step 1: Click the plus (+) option

Step 2: The user now has to choose what he or she wants to share. He or she has two options- 

Take a new photo or video with the help of a computer’s camera, or

Share pictures and videos that already exist in the gallery of the computer. A user can select multiple images at one time. 

Step 3: If the user feels like it, he or she can also add captions to every photo and video. 

Step 4: Click the share option after completion.

Finding and Following WhatsApp Channels

It is interesting to note that finding and following WhatsApp Channels is a cakewalk. A user can find a WhatsApp channel based on the topic of his or her choice by

  • Browsing through the channel list- Users can see all the channels that are available to them. This list is automatically based on the country code of the user’s phone number and language preferences.  Along with this, a user can explore other WhatsApp channels by changing the category, country, filter option, and much more.
  • Check out the recommended channels- A user can take a look at the various WhatsApp channels recommended to them by scrolling to the bottom of the Updates tab to view the Find channels section. Recommended channels are based on the channel metrics such as how active or popular they are. 
  • Finding WhatsApp Channels with the help of external links: Admin of a WhatsApp channel can share the link outside of WhatsApp to help people find their channel. People can click on the link to open a channel in WhatsApp and browse updates.

Users can check out the list of channels available to them by –

Step 1: Clicking the Channels icon

Step 2: Click the plus (+) option then “Find channels”.

It is to be kept in mind that WhatsApp channels with a green tick next to their account are verified and authentic accounts. Users can also preview channel updates before he or she follows the channel by clicking on the WhatsApp channel name to preview recent updates and get an idea about the type of content that the channel shares. To check out the channel’s info page one should click on the WhatsApp channel name or click on the “channel info” option. 

Now there are two ways by which users can follow a WhatsApp channel –

  1. From the channel list,

A person can directly follow a WhatsApp channel from the directory by clicking on the plus (+) icon next to the channel name. 

  1. Follow from the channel

Users can directly open WhatsApp channels of his or her own choice and click the “follow” button.

How to Unfollow a WhatsApp Channel?

A user can choose to unfollow a WhatsApp channel at any given point in time. After unfollowing, he or she will not be able to get any notifications nor will be able to see any updates in the Channels section of the updates tab. 

The following preferences can be updated from the WhatsApp channels info page in two ways. A person can unfollow or change the settings by using the icons below.

  • The “Following” icon indicator indicates that the user is following a channel. Click to unfollow by tapping.
  • The “Follow” icon indicates that the user is not following any channels. Click to follow.

To unfollow WhatsApp channels- 

Step 1: Open WhatsApp and click on the Updates tab.

Step 2: Open the channel to be unfollowed.  

Step 3: Click on the three-dot menu and select the “Unfollow” option.

Step 4: Finally confirm by clicking “Unfollow”.

Are WhatsApp channels free? If you are worried about it, understand that the WhatsApp channels feature is free as of now for all private and business entities.

Wrapping up

In today’s competitive age, all business organizations are looking for more effective communication with their clients. A WhatsApp business channel tends to offer promising digital marketing solutions to connect with a large audience group. E-commerce brands can enjoy direct one-way communication with their customers on their phones. They can also share important updates while respecting their privacy. This helps a business organization establish mutual trust and respect with its customers. 

Also read: Why API in Digital Marketing is so important for your business growth?

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