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The Founder and CEO of Meta Platforms, Mark Zuckerburg, recently made the announcement of the rolling out of a new feature for its messaging platform, WhatsApp Channels, in 150+ countries including India. Earlier in February, Meta had launched the feature of Broadcast Channels on Instagram to share Meta news and updates.

Within hours of its launch, Katrina Kaif, Diljit Dosanjh, Akshay Kumar, Vijay Deverakonda, Neha Kakkar and many more along with the Indian Cricket team launched their own WhatsApp Channels.

In lieu of this development, reached out to creators and agencies to get an understanding of what the new feature means to them and how it will impact the communication strategies of brands and creators alike.

In fact, both content creators and agencies have been quite optimistic about the potential of the recently rolled out WhatsApp Channels as they believe that the new feature is poised to revolutionise the digital landscape since it provides an unparalleled opportunity to forge deeper connections with audiences.

Shradha Agarwal

According to Shradha Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Grapes, since creators usually are used to communicating via short and long form videos on most other platforms and thrive off of a dialogue with their followers, it will only be prudent for them to use the WhatsApp Channels’ innate tools like images, stickers, polls, etc. to talk to their audience on a regular basis and garnering engagement along with a new and unique user base.

Having said that, when needed, WhatsApp Channels, in her view, can be used to compliment a creator’s campaign on other platforms as well. For instance, if a creator has shared a brand collaboration on Instagram and shares a link for the same on their WhatsApp channel, their audience base can very well be led to the source via the new feature of the messaging platform.

Sharing her perspective on how brands can leverage WhatsApp Channels for their communication going forward, she also recalled that when Instagram introduced the feature of Broadcast Channels, a brand or a creator already had a follower base which was invited to check it out, however the case is not the same for WhatsApp as of now as both brands and creators will have to establish this from scratch, making the approach and usage of WhatsApp Channels slightly different.

“Since WhatsApp allows the users to discover the Channels based on parameters like the frequency of their activity, their popularity, new joinees, and region, there are more chances of a brand being discovered. However, the fact that people open different social media platforms with a different goal in mind, the type of communication on platforms such as Instagram or WhatsApp will also have to be different,” she said.

“While the typical, one-to-one WhatsApp marketing works in the middle and lower funnel, driving a consumer’s consideration and purchase decision respectively, Channels can work in the upper funnels by spreading awareness about the brand and its products. Brands can also consider the opportunity to humanise themselves by leveraging the ‘personal communication’ perspective associated with WhatsApp,” she opined.

Shavir Bansal

Echoing a similar chain of thought and adding the creator’s perspective to the scheme of things around WhatsApp Channels, Shavir Bansal, Founder of 'BeKifaayati' and a finfluencer himself, stated that the new feature actually offers creators an opportunity to establish deeper connections with their audience as people are connected more deeply with their near and dear ones on WhatsApp as opposed to any other social media platform, and that is why Meta, in his views, is trying to monetise the attention of these users.

“WhatsApp Channels in its current form are extremely useful in cementing the relationship with the current set of subscribers. But I feel the content on these Channels will evolve massively in the coming months. I believe, WhatsApp Channels will become a key differentiator in the social media ecosystem over the next few years, similar to how YouTube and Instagram have evolved in the past,” he added.

Viraj Sheth

As per Viraj Sheth, CEO and Co-founder,  Monk Entertainment, as well, WhatsApp Channels will help brands and creators to build their own communities and it will be the agency's primary responsibility to ensure it happens effectively.

“Being a highly private platform, WhatsApp boasts remarkable user retention rates and when leveraged to its full potential, it enables both creators and brands to cultivate their most devoted fan bases,” he opined.

Emphasising upon how brands can leverage WhatsApp Channels, he stated that brands can utilise WhatsApp to provide their audiences with special offers and exclusive insights into new product launches and variations and their product line as this strategy keeps their audience engaged and eagerly anticipating what the brand has in store next.

Additionally, he also explained that for creators, this involves creating an exclusive atmosphere wherein they can share unreleased, exclusive content and grant audience the access to a group where they can directly interact with the creator, feeling a personal connection with them and making their audience truly feel cherished. This approach will foster a sense of intimacy and connection between a creator and their audience.

Harish Closepet

Harish Closepet aka Harry's Lunchbox, a chef and a digital content creator, also opined that strategies like engaging content, personalised updates, timely responses, call-to-action features and segmentation will help creators with the optimum utilisation of WhatsApp Channels.

“Creators can share relevant and valuable content that resonates with their audience's interests. They can use personal greetings and tailor messages to individual preferences for a more intimate connection while ensuring prompt replies to maintain engagement and build trust with your audience,” he said.

Further, he also added that using polls, quizzes or requests for feedback to keep the conversation active will also make a creator’s audience feel valued and that audience segmentation, on the basis of their interests or demographics, can help one to send targeted messages, ensuring relevance and higher conversion rates.

Kunal Khandelwal

According to Kunal Khandelwal, Group Head - Outreach, SoCheers, while it is still a wait-and-watch game, if creators focus on the three strategic pillars of optimisation, planning and strategising their content in a collective fashion, it would actually empower creators to grow their audience and make a significant impact on WhatsApp Channels.

Explaining the three-step methodology further, he stated that if a creator delves into audience insights, gaining a deep understanding of their preferences, peak active times and the most relatable topics in the optimisation phase, they can produce content that truly resonates with their audience.

Simultaneously, during the planning stage, maintaining a content calendar to ensure consistency and engagement with diversifying content formats like images, videos, text-based posts, and polls can help gain a sense of diversity which further serves as a valuable source of insight, shedding light on the most effective formats.

Finally, in the strategising phase, creators can leverage WhatsApp Channels to build strong relationships by actively engaging with their audience, responding promptly to comments and questions, and participating in conversations.

Yashi Tank

Similarly, Yashi Tank, a digital content creator and entrepreneur, also shared the belief that in order to maximise the utility of WhatsApp Channels, creators can employ several strategies. Firstly, they should promote their channel across various platforms to build awareness and attract subscribers by enticing them via offerings such as exclusive content, polls, quizzes, etc. which encourage interactive engagement and boost the sense of community.

“Personalised communication with subscribers and responding to their feedback will help to build stronger connections. Offering a variety of content formats keeps the channel engaging and fresh. Creating a sense of urgency through time-sensitive content, such as limited-time offers or exclusive announcements will encourage subscribers to stay active. Moreover, collaborating with other creators or influencers for content creation or cross-promotion can increase reach through WhatsApp Channels,” she added.

Furthermore, she also highlighted that utilising the analytics provided by WhatsApp helps in understanding subscriber behaviour and improving strategies which is why regular communication and seeking feedback from subscribers can allow for adaptation and improvement over time.

Samiksha Mehta

Samiksha Mehta, Business Development Manager, Pollen (a Zoo Media company), also emphasised that creators can optimise their use of WhatsApp Channels by planning their content strategy, right from the type of updates they want to share with their audience to their latest ventures, exclusive content, or sneak peeks to generate interest and engagement.

“Engaging with their audience, creators can now actively interact with their followers and check on the reactions they receive which will help in building a strong relationship and loyalty among their follower base,” she added.