Messaging app Telegram was originally created for private communications. With time it became a handy content distribution tool for news media via channels and chat groups. It now reaches an active monthly user base of over 500 million people worldwide.
Telegram was founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013. It initially took off in East European countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It has since expanded globally, driven by its privacy features and political instability from Hong Kong to the US. Telegram currently ranks as the sixth most used global messaging app.
It is a big hit in authoritarian countries like Iran, where Telegram is the leading social platform with over 50 million users. In early 2018, the government completely banned it for refusing to remove encryption to officials. In response, people turned to VPN servers and proxies, or unofficial versions of the app called “forks”. The latter, however, can be dangerous, with a March 2020 leak revealing 42 million users account IDs, user names, phone numbers.
It has been growing in popularity in the West. Top countries in terms of Telegram traffic now count Germany, Italy, and Brazil. This is partially due to mass deplatforming from other social media. While most messaging apps have content policies that prevent the audience from using hate speech, Telegram is more loosely moderated.
As a result, it became a top destination for supporters of former US president Donald Trump who called for violence in the wake of the Capitol riots. According to SensorTower, Telegram became the second-most installed messenger in the U.S. this January.
The rise in the number of users (most of whom are not extremists of various kinds), is but one reason why the news media should take a close look at Telegram. The Fix gathered what you need to know to be successful on the platform as a publisher.
More from The Fix: Infographics: How Belarus media move to Telegram
Telegram Analytics is the biggest online platform with statistical data on more than 150,000 Telegram channels all over the world. It gathers data on several indicators – with Engagement Rate by Reach (ERR) and CI (citation index) chief among them.
ERR is an indicator of user engagement – the ratio of average number of views to number of subscribers. The more audience of a certain channel view and use publications, the higher the indicator. For example, Bloomberg has about 55,600 daily reach with 85,983 members.
CI (citation index) is based on mentions and shares. The more often a Telegram channel is mentioned in other chats, the higher its citation index is and the more audience it can attract.
TGStat Bot is a helper bot created by Telegram itself inside the messenger. It shows all the data for any particular chat, channel or even a single piece of content.
Channel Stats – is another analysis tool available within the app. It provides analytics about post performances and channel growth for channels with more than 50 subscribers.
While connecting with an existing audience is convenient, growing it is much more tricky. Telegram does not promote content based on its popularity or quality – one has to get users to subscribe before they even see your channel’s or group’s content. As a result, new channels often struggle with getting new followers.
So here are a few tips to grow your Telegram channel:
Unfortunately, this is not very transparent, creating a free space for shady deals and unclear pricing. It also makes it hard to estimate how much money can one make on Telegram. Since the platform and government are not taking their cut (due to the absence of any platform-developed solution), ad prices on Telegram are pretty low compared to the results they bring. To put it another way, though, ad buyers can get a pretty good deal for their money, cost per view price is relatively low.
However some good news might be coming up here, too. As the platform hit 500 millions users, Durov announced plans for monetization updates. The company will add paid features for business channels and power users. Moreover, Telegram will integrate ads in massive public channels using the company’s ad network. Private group chats will be free of advertising messages.
These changes implemented will make Telegram even more attractive to the media, so why not get started now.