Whatsapp Channels has expanded to the MENA region. First launched in Colombia and Singapore, the feature has now been launched in seven countries including, Egypt and Morocco.
The chat-based social media app’s new feature is a one-way broadcasting tool. According to Whatsapp in its announcement blog, admins can send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to the followers of the channel.
Whatsapp also said that they’re building a “searchable directory” to help the users find channels of their interest to follow.
The feature has been created to be separate from chats with family and friends and also protects personal information, such as phone numbers, of both the admins and the followers.
How can brands leverage Whatsapp Channels?
Whatsapp, part of Meta’s social media platform suite, has more than 2 billion monthly users worldwide. It is also the most used messenger application in the UAE with about 8.08 million users, while Egypt had more than 50 million WhatsApp users in May. Also in the region, more than 84 per cent of internet users in Saudi Arabia used WhatsApp in 2022, according to a report from Datareportal,
It’s the platform where most users chat and share content with their friends and family. Given Whatsapp’s strong user base and the feature bringing in the ability to build communities, it could potentially become big enough to rival Threads and X.
Lovetto Nazareth, Managing Director, Prism Digital, says, “WhatsApp is one of the best ways to share content to make it go viral, and now, with the advent of Whatsapp Channels on WhatsApp, a broadcast tool which is already one of the biggest sharing platforms, it is one of the most significant opportunities brands have to capture the personal interest mind space.”
He adds, “This feature can build precious real estate in the minds of their customers by capturing the subject matter channel and creating excellent sharable content around it.”
He also mentions how the feature will allow brands to create niche channels to reach and interact with their specific target audience. “So say, for example, a sports brand like Nike can start a commentary channel for sports lovers in the niche they are in. They will have to produce and share content they are already sharing on social media on this channel, and sports lovers will start following them if the content is powerful and engaging enough.”
Content will be the king of Whatsapp Channels strategy
Nazareth warns that the content should not be “too marketing-oriented and sales-like” and instead should cater to the tastes and wants of the customers. He also says that brands should try to create and share viral and inspiring content that resonates with their customers.
“A tourism brand like a hotel in Dubai could share excellent shareable content such as: Fun things to do in Dubai, how to make the most of a seven-day visit to the Emirates or tips for the budget traveler in Dubai. This type of content shared with the right consumer could go viral.”
To sum it up, he says, “All in all, brands should recognise the value that channels bring to their virality factor and create content that resonates with the wants and needs of their customers. They would also need to share content that would be of direct interest to their audiences.”
When will Whatsapp Channels launch in other countries?
While there is no exact date announced yet, it is expected that the feature will be rolled out to the rest of the countries in the coming few months.