Unless you have an active interest in cryptocurrency, odds are you likely familiar with Telegram–the go-to community for ICOs and crypto fanatics. Telegram, at the broadest sense, is a secure messaging app similar to the likes of WhatsApp. It was recently pulled from Apple’s App Store due to hosting inappropriate content and violating the App Store Guidelines. Telegram also recently announced it’s raised around $850 million dollars in its ICO–which has also been met with skepticism within the investment community. One could argue Telegram is one of the most controversial and high-profiled platform in the tech space.
While the issues above are certainly reasons to have caution with Telegram, and I certainly don’t want to appear as if I am ignoring some of the larger red flags, my intent here is to discuss Telegram from its potential impact on brands.
One of the biggest draws to Telegram for me was the ability to join and participate in topic-specific Groups (communities). As mentioned above, most of these Groups have focused around cryptocurrency discussions, I also participate in a few “personality”-driven Groups. These are groups, mostly technology focused, started by subject-matter experts. Think Twitter Lists meets group chat.
The biggest difference between these two approaches are obviously quality vs quantity–which raises potential issues for brands looking to grow and develop a Telegram community. That being said, both approaches offer an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with like-minded people in a more intimate and private method. With the amount of noise and spam on Twitter, I find Telegram to be a powerful alternative.
For brands, I believe Telegram presents a unique opportunity to create energized and personalized theme-specific micro-communities. There’s a tremendous amount of noise and filth across social platforms, which I believe will continue to chip away at the amount of time consumers spend on the larger mainstream social platforms. Additionally, with Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, brands are looking for additional methods to reach their consumers. Instead of trying to appeal to the masses, I believe we’ll continue to see a focused effort on fostering unique & data-driven interest communities.
Telegram could potentially be a great resource for product launches or events, niche interests (authors, restaurants, health-related) or executive/personality-based thought leadership. For example, a fitness personality or brand could create a secret Group on Telegram around sessions/programs or specific health-related interest.
Without getting too deep into Telegram, the most immediate challenge for brands on Telegram is obviously the resources needed to build grow and maintain another community. While Telegram can largely function as a participant-driven community, brands need to ensure the community is respectful, valuable and insightful. Not always an easy task.
There’s quite a few philosophical challenges that come with Telegram–some listed above and others I purposefully left out of this 101-level overview; however, given the current shift in digital communities, along with the fundamental shift we’re beginning to see within culture and individual behavior, Telegram remains an intriguing platform. We’ve been hammering on this notion of “1:1 marketing” and “personalization” yet I’m not sure we’re anywhere closer than we were in 2015. Telegram may be a viable option to begin to reshape community building for brands. Or, like many other platforms, it may completely fizzle out.