With more conversation switching to DMs, Meta is super keen to capitalize on this trend, by adding new ways for people, and brands, to reach wider audiences within their messaging streams, facilitating more direct connection with friends and fans.
Meta’s latest effort on this front is WhatsApp Channels, which will enable WhatsApp users to get DMs on topics of interest, or follow certain creators in the app.
As explained by WhatsApp:
“Channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To help you select channels to follow, we’re building a searchable directory where you can find your hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more. You can also get to a channel from invite links sent in chats, e-mail, or posted online.”
As you can see in the video, Channels will also live in a new ‘Updates’ tab in the app, where you’ll also be able to find the latest WhatsApp Status posts from profiles you follow. That could give Channels more focus, and make it a more appealing option for facilitating topic-based connection within the app.
WhatsApp Channels will not display the personal info of users or followers, while Channel updates will only be stored for 30 days at a time, ensuring that the content remains fresh and relevant. Meta says that it’s also exploring payments and business discovery elements within Channels, as a means to help businesses maximize their exposure in the app.
As noted, the update builds on Meta’s efforts to capitalize on DM connection, which has also driven the development of virtually the same option on Instagram, in broadcast channels.
Though, I’m not sure that this is actually what people want from DM connection.
The appeal of DMs is that these are generally smaller, private group chats, where you can engage with friends and like minded folk, so broadcast elements, where one account speaks to many, and you can’t respond, don’t really fit the mold of what people generally use DMs for.
But maybe, once the content is being fed into where they’re interacting, that’ll be enough to keep users engaged, with the notification systems helping to ensure users stay on top of the latest updates in these feeds.
Not sure it’ll work, but likely worth the experiment either way.
It could open up a range of new opportunities for brands. You could run a promotions channel, with specials for channel members, which, eventually, will also enable users to make purchases in-stream. I would suggest not overusing this, but maybe, for occasional, seasonal updates, it could be another connective element.
WhatsApp Channels is launching this week in Colombia and Singapore, before expanding to more regions later this year.