Why Telegram Trumps Whatsapp For Building A Community
I first learned about Telegram in June 2016 when a friend complained to me about having to download, install, and start using it because colleagues in the office were using it for both work and gossip.
I rolled my eyes thinking why can’t everyone just use 1 app for instant messaging. There are already established apps on the market like Whatsapp, Line, Viber, WeChat, etc. And they are all available in both Android and iOS with cross-platform capabilities.
Why must we install so many apps that do the same thing on our smart phones when our phones are already struggling for processing power and battery juice.
So I brushed off Telegram as just another instant messenger wannabe and walked off into the sunset.
The main messaging app I’ve been using was Whatsapp. And it does pretty much everything that I needed it to do. Especially with group chats.
I even started building small communities by creating groups and adding members with the same interest.
Everything was going along just fine (at least that’s what I thought) when one day a member told me about the BIG issue with groups in Whatsapp. It was something that was bugging him.
It is that every member in a group is able to see the phone numbers of other members. He was very uncomfortable with this. But still remained in the group as he trusted me as an admin.
I was aware of this little flaw in Whatsapp years ago. When I first realized this structure built into group chats, I felt that it must have been a small oversight on the part of Whatsapp. And they would surely iron it out in future.
I’ve never thought about it again until this particular member brought it to my attention.
Because according to Facebook’s announcement, they will be using our phone numbers to make friend suggestions among other things. So grouping users in the same group would be a great way to suggest friends on Facebook. Hiding phone numbers might not be in line with their corporate strategy.
The more I think about this, the more I find that it is not ideal NOT to hide the phone numbers of participants in a group. Spammers and stalkers who make it their calling to harvest phone numbers and exploit them will have a field day when they get accepted into any groups on Whatsapp.
This 1 factor alone should be enough to convince you not to join groups that contain people you don’t know… Not an ideal scenario in creating and managing groups…
I started thinking about alternatives and remembered Telegram. So i went about digging for information on how groups are managed on the app and have a trial run myself.
I wouldn’t say that Telegram is the perfect app for managing group communities. But I will say that it definitely trumps whatsapp in some key areas in managing communities and groups.
1) Group size
Telegram currently allows a supergroup size of as large as 5,000 members. Whatsapp has a limit of just 256.
The difference between this 2 industry juggernauts is so HUGE that I had to find different sources with this information to verify it.
Yes, I couldn’t believe it and needed to investigate deeper to let this sink in.
If you are building a community, one of those benchmarks you’d like to set is to keep the headcount growing. And it can really throw a wet blanket into the party when you realize that a 256 limit is really small.
When communities really start to gain traction, you can easily burst that limit within a day.
It would be a big peace of mind if you are working within a limit of 5,000. At least you don’t have to worry about being a victim of a successful and engaging group.
Group size limit comparison
2) Ability to delete posts and messages
If you have managed a community before, maybe a forum or something like that, you will know that one of the biggest hassles is to moderate posts and comments.
Sometimes messages are posted by people that can seem nasty or oblivious which are offensive to others.
Admins in Telegram private groups have the power to edit their own posts, and delete posts from any member. This means that it is possible for you to delete stuff before all members in the group reads them.
Posts and messages in Whatsapp cannot be deleted or recalled. This means that when something is posted, it is out there for everyone. And there’s nothing you can do to control a bad situation.
To be honest, I see this as a god given right of an admin. I still wonder why it’s not implemented in Whatsapp. It’s a good thing that Telegram gave this factor serious thought.
Global delete (recall) of messages from members
3) Access to archives
When you create a supergroup in Telegram, new members added to the group will be able to access the archive of messages posted in the group all the way back to the group’s inception.
You might think that this is just a small gimmick. But I think otherwise.
Because when new members are able to see into the past, they will have a better idea of the tone of discussions, the culture, respected contributors, and even the answers to questions already on their minds.
It helps to integrate them into the community. And it can also make them more comfortable in participating in discussions from the get-go.
View chat history of group
As mentioned previously, privacy is a very big issue in dealings online and on mobile.
There is no way you can hide your real phone number when you get involved in a group chat with Whatsapp.
Whereas Telegram allows you to use a username to identify yourself and join groups. There is no need to reveal your phone number.
Admins can either add you into a group by sending you a special “invite link”, using your custom username, or adding you as a contact by getting your phone number.
Even if you have provided the admin with your phone number, your number will not be displayed to other members in the group.
I rate this as a 5-star feature.
It can very well be a factor that can supercharge the growth of your group.
Other then that, as a responsible admin, surely you feel morally obligated to protect the privacy of your members?
Keep phone numbers of members private from other members
I cannot see myself uninstalling Whatsapp from my cell phones and tablets. It’s roots run too deep.
Too many of my friends and acquaintances use it everyday for interaction. I would be outcasting myself socially if I am to delete the app.
There is also no real reason to delete it altogether as it’s still a very useful app made with state-of-the-art technology.
But if you are going to build a group or community. And you intend to play the responsible role of admin to it’s full extent, Telegram looks like the app of choice for such purposes. The key advantages listed above speaks for themselves.