After initially launching WhatsApp Channels in Colombia and Singapore back in June, WhatsApp is now bringing its new group chat option to more regions, with users in 150 markets now able to access Channels in the app.
As per the video, Channels is a one-way broadcast service that enables users to stay up to date on topics of interest within WhatsApp. Channels reside in a separate tab from your chats, and provide a means for people to use WhatsApp as a real-time news and information service, on the key topics that are of interest to them.
And now, a lot more people will be able to sign up.
As per WhatsApp:
“Our goal is to build the most private broadcast service available. Channels are separate from your chats, and who you choose to follow is not visible to other followers. We also protect the personal information of both admins and followers.”
Channel updates also only live for 30 days, ensuring that the info remains fresh and relevant over time.
In addition to this, WhatsApp has also added an enhanced Channels directory, which is about to get a whole lot more options to consider.
WhatsApp says that thousands of organizations, sports teams, artists, and thought leaders are now available to follow in the app, providing a heap more options for enhanced topical engagement.
And with more and more users now switching to DMs to keep in touch, as opposed to posting to their public social channels, Channels could actually end up being a highly valuable, and highly used option.
Meta’s been working to hook into the broader DM shift, which has also driven the development of virtually the same option on Instagram, in broadcast channels.
Instagram’s also added “Notes” as another DM interaction option, while Meta’s also hoping to eventually build on WhatsApp’s business potential, and shopping tools, via enhanced connective and discovery features.
It remains to be seen, however, whether this is actually what people want to use DMs for.
Messaging is generally a more personal, more intimate space, and Meta’s past attempts to branch into that, with ads, promotions, games, etc., have all fallen flat. Channels is different, in that users remain in full control over the topics they follow, or don’t. But even so, stretching DM connection into other areas may not generate the response that Meta’s hoping.
But WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, and for many, it remains the key connective option, and their link to the broader web.
Maybe, then, Channels will be the perfect complement to build on WhatsApp’s value, and if Meta can get people spending more time in the app, and engaging in a broader range of activities, that could pave the way for more WhatsApp options in future.
WhatsApp channels are launching in 150 regions from today.