How Volodymyr Zelensky reaches 1.5 million people with Telegram daily
With the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky heavily relies on Telegram to address his country and a global audience. The messaging app offers interesting communication possibilities for various organizations. We’ll take a closer look at the app, its safety, why it has a bad reputation, and its potential as a communication channel.
As military operations in Ukraine continue, people all over the world, and especially Ukrainian citizens, are closely following the directions of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Of course, close communication is very important in such times.
Besides conventional media like TV or social networks, the Ukrainian president also chooses to use the Telegram messenger as a channel of communication.
Aside from being able to reach a wide audience, Telegram also has a somewhat questionable reputation as an outlet for wild conspiracy theories or a platform for right wing ideologies. However, these are by far not the only ways that people use this channel.
Telegram is, in fact, a messaging app with a lot of useful features. Therefore, it offers great potential as a communication channel for companies and organizations.
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What is Telegram?
Telegram is a messaging app launched in 2013 by Pavel Durov. The Russian entrepreneur was previously known for founding the Russian equivalent to Facebook, VKontakte. Telegram’s headquarters are in London.
It ranks sixth (fifth, excluding Snapchat) among all messaging apps. For messaging services that are used globally, and not mainly in China, Telegram even enters the top three.
The app saw a big rise in the past couple of years. According to the Digital 2022 Report, Telegram has made significant jumps in usage percentage in most countries in the world. In some countries, the usage almost doubled compared to 2021.
But the reasons for this kind of growth are not only positive. The reputation of the messaging app is controversial, to say the least.
Why does Telegram have a bad reputation?
The controversial reputation of Telegram has built itself slowly but surely in the past. Some points of criticism are:
- Dubious past of founder Pavel Durov
- Tolerance for conspiracy theories
- Groups, that promote right wing ideology, terrorism etc.
- Usage as a marketplace for drugs and fake vaccination passports
As the messaging service reviews the content posted to groups rather loosely, space opens up for these kinds of infrastructures. A big reason why such communities grow on the platform.
Another great concern of experts regarding the messaging app is safety.
How safe is Telegram?
The biggest issue with Telegram’s safety is that the app stores all data in centralized servers, unlike WhatsApp or Signal, where data is stored on the devices of the users. The location of these servers remains unknown. Telegram states that they encrypt the data stored in their servers and that it is only accessible to the specific users. It is hard to judge how true this statement is.
Also the end-to-end encryption is not a standard. Users have to manually encrypt single chats, whereas group chats are by default not encrypted.
There is no debate that the app potentially lacks safety in these areas, but people mainly use it because of its possibilities. The centralized storage of data enables users to access their chats whenever and on whatever device they like.
Beyond that, a good usability in many aspects and the possibility of participating in huge group chats with like-minded people, is what drives people to use Telegram.
Companies and organizations already started to take advantage of various features.
How do companies use Telegram?
Telegram offers four main ways to use the application:
A profile is a personal account (for private use but, also as an administrator in channels and groups). Here are examples of profiles for the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Fridays for Future Movement, and the New York Times.
The push channel can have an unlimited number of subscribers, and only administrators and bots can post. Comments are not allowed, and replies are not possible! This is how President Zelensky chooses to use Telegram.
A Telegram group or chat can have a maximum of 200,000 members and anyone can post. The admin of the group assigns rights, for instance, for pictures or videos.
A Telegram bot is a kind of virtual admin that can post to groups and channels. Users can also follow a bot directly. Subscribers can reply to the bot’s newsletters – but unlike in a group, only the bot’s administrators can see the replies!
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The Telegram messaging app also has one important advantage compared to others: In the Discover area, users can search for companies, organizations or famous people like Ukrainian President Zelensky.
You can reach the Discover area through the search bar in the chats tab.
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Telegram’s importance is growing, despite safety concerns
To sum it up, yes, there are some issues with the Telegram messenger. The safety of the app is concerning, as it is a home for various extremist ideologies and dangerous groups. Also, the data protection of the app is questionable.
However, companies and organizations also need to see the other side of the coin. Telegram has immense potential.
- The usage of no other app is increasing as fast as Telegram’s.
- Chatbot-moderated groups and newsletters are possible.
- The Discover area makes it easy to find companies.
- There are a lot of possibilities to implement chatbots.
Newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post are already using the messaging app to reach their readers. Governmental entities around the world have Telegram accounts, and even the Ukrainian president is posting multiple times a day to reach out to his 1.5 million subscribers.
The growing usage of Telegram worldwide suggests that the messaging platform won’t go away anytime soon. Despite the bad reputation, you should seriously think about how you could use Telegram for your customer communication.
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