17th February 2023
This week Meta announced that it is introducing a broadcast-chat feature called Channels on Instagram to allow creators to deepen connections with followers.
Taking a leaf out of Telegram’s book, Meta’s new one-to-many messaging feature, Channels, will let creators broadcast messages and updates to a broad audience of followers that opt into their channel. They can update their followers and share behind-the-scenes moments using text, photos, video, voice notes and polls. Followers can react to content and participate in polls but can’t join in the conversation directly.
Users on the social network can discover broadcast channels and view the content, but only followers who join the channel will receive notifications when the creator posts updates. If a user follows a Channel, it is added to their inbox and will appear among other message threads, and notifications will be turned on and function like any other chat. Followers can leave or mute broadcast channels at any time and control their notifications from creators.
More features will be added to broadcast channels, such as the ability to bring another creator into the channel to discuss upcoming collabs and crowdsource questions for an “ask me anything”.
Creators who create a broadcast channel can open it to all their followers, but there is also the option to create a broadcast channel limited to paid subscribers for more exclusive content.
Mark Zuckerberg introduced the news on his own ‘Meta Channel’, which will be the first place he shares “news and updates on all the products and tech we’re building at Meta”.
The Channels feature is in a limited test now with a handful of US creators, including snowboarder Chloe Kim, Jiu-Jitsu fighter Mackenzie Dern, and meme account Tank Sinatra. It will be rolling out to more creators soon. Meta also plans to bring the feature to Messenger and Facebook in the coming months.
Earlier in the week, the company also announced it is quitting the livestream shopping business on Instagram and will instead focus on advertising as a way for people to discover businesses and shop on Instagram. From 16th March, users will no longer be able to tag products while live streaming. This follows a similar live shopping shutdown on Facebook late last year.
Instagram is striving to innovate and find new ways to attract and retain the best creators and so keep users and their attention on the platform. Channels is also potentially a response to the broader trend of users reverting to and engaging more with private messaging instead of posting to Stories or the main feed. The new feature could give creators and brands fresh ways to build communities and engage with their audiences in more organic and native ways.