Will Telegram Be a Big Channel for Publishers?

As reported in Whats New in Publishing, Telegram has a lot going for it. Should publishers be on the platform? Lets find out.

The messaging app takes privacy seriously, is growing steadily, and has a number of publisher friendly features.

An important media trend in 2019 was the rise of messaging apps, where news consumers increasingly shared content through closed (as opposed to open) networks.

Tom Standage from The Economist summed up the challenge:

“Clearly, messaging apps are where social media is going next, and we and other publishers need to figure them out”

A lot of major publishers like Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist have been ahead of the trend and experimenting with messaging apps over the last few years.

The issue is that Facebook controls all the main messaging platforms, in the US at least.

Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger have a monopoly on the market, and Mark Zuckerberg plans to integrate all three in to one, end-to-end encrypted platform. Cyber security experts warn though that this will be a huge challenge, and we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Facebook may pay lip service to wanting to improve privacy, but do they really?


Writing in The Verge, Vlad Savov States that:

“If you want to know the reason I’m not on WhatsApp with its other 1.5 billion users, the answer is Telegram. To people unfamiliar with it, I like to describe Telegram as simply WhatsApp without any of the icky data sharing with Facebook”

Telegram has been banned in its native Russia due to refusing to share encryption keys with the Russian government. It seems they’re pretty serious about privacy!

Telegram has also seen rapid adoption in countries with lower freedom of expression and authoritarian regimes like Iran, and in trouble spots like Hong Kong.

Telegram has a much smaller user base than WhatsApp and Messenger, but growth has been steady for the last five years will millions of users flocking to the platform after Facebook acquired WhatsApp.

There are several reasons why Telegram could be a great for for publishers.

Firstly, the emphasis on privacy is key. We’re going into a decade in which privacy is a far stronger value proposition than before.

In this interesting Medium post, Entrepreneur Lance Ng writes that:

“Telegram is a platform that is positioned to capture a whole new generation of users growing up with a completely digital lifestyle. It pitches privacy, favors cryptocurrencies and offers features which enable it to be an all-in-one app — a strategy already proven to work in the East”

It seems likely that Telegram has a lot more room for growth in the near future.

Secondly, the platform has a number of publisher-friendly features like:

  • Large file sharing up to 1.5 GB
  • Groups up to 200,000 members
  • Podcast and audiobook support
  • Post views counter

In contrast, WhatsApp has restricted publishers from bulk sharing in an effort to crack down on “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use”.

This has lead some major publishers, like Bloomberg, to shut down their WhatsApp channels and move to Telegram.

Bloomberg are attempting to draw new subscribers and build an international audience on the platform, and send out a couple of messages a day including breaking news and the biggest stories to more than 27,000 subscribers.

In Ukraine too we can find a Telegram publisher success story.

Ukrainian publishers have seen effective engagement and high conversion through Telegram, and it’s now a key way that Ukrainian journalists communicate with their audience.

Should publishers use Telegram?

If you’re looking for a way to reach a younger, privacy-conscious, or international audience – experimenting with Telegram might be a great avenue.

Once you get audience members to join your group, you have a direct line to them. For example, there is no restriction on reach like on Facebook – when you post something to your Telegram, your whole audience will see it.

As a platform it also has a bright future, considering consumers’ increasing weariness with the Facebook monopoly and the younger generation’s focus on data privacy.

Set up a channel and experiment with it, it is still quite underutilised, so you might gain some real early-adopter advantage!





Written by
Thomas Goss

I'm MobiLoud's marketing manager.

I write about media trends and business models - and host the Digital Media Growth Podcast, where I interview fascinating people from the world of digital publishing.

When I have time I like reading, skiing, fitness, cooking and learning languages.

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