Telegram channels 101, Ideas for Farcaster

From Telegram's Success to Farcaster's Future

Farcaster introduced channels in June 2023 and heavily bet on this functionality as a driving force for increasing qdau. On 15 December, channel creation became permissionless, meaning any user can create a channel by paying a fee in warps. 186 new channels were created in the first 24 hours. In speculations about the future, Farcaster is frequently described as a combination of X, users follow individuals, and Reddit, users follow topics. But there is another relevant comparison - Telegram.

Launched in Russia in 2013, Telegram became a worldwide popular messaging app. As of August 2023, there are 800 million monthly active users globally, with 82 million of these in Russia, promoting unique cultural and language-specific phenomena of user behavior. In 2023, Telegram is the closest to WeChat, with continuously expanding functionality: a 1-1 messenger, private and public group chats, channels, bots, mini apps, payments, premium subscriptions. For the sake of this article, we'll only focus on channels.

Telegram channels 101

According to the Telegram FAQ, channels are defined as follows: "Channels are a tool for broadcasting public messages to large audiences. In fact, channels can have an unlimited number of subscribers. When you post in a channel, the message is signed with the channel's name and not yours..."

Telegram supports different content types: text (long and short form), photos, videos, gifs, files (e.g. pdf, epub), and voice messages. This variety grants channel admins considerable freedom of expression compared to other platforms like Instagram or X. By default, subscribers have read-only permission, but Telegram recently enabled comments on posts to promote two-way conversations.

There are hundreds of thousands of different channels, but they can be roughly categorized into three types:

Topic-Specific Channels
Concentrating on specific topics or news such as politics, history, humour, design, etc. These are often managed by anon admins and targeted to mass audiences.

Brand Channels
From banks to bakeries, brands are investing in their Telegram channels and using them as their media platforms, but creating engaging and relevant content requires a significant budget and human resources. News, educational material, and behind-the-scenes perform best in this category.

Personal Channels
Representing the fastest-growing and most interesting sector in Telegram channels, these have the most engaging audiences. Having a personal channel has become practically a necessity for any influential person in the Russian-speaking community, ranging from Instagram opinion leaders to businessmen. Telegram has become the primary platform of distribution, shifting the focus away from traditional blogs and newsletters. Success hinges on the admin's curated content and a personal, authentic presentation.

Ideas for Farcaster Channels

While Farcaster and Telegram are completely different in functionalities and audiences, looking at the success of Telegram's channels could provide some insights for Farcaster.

Channel UX
Farcaster's channels UX is similar to Telegram. There is a general algo feed, but within the channels there are no recommended or suggested casts. This design allows authors and brands to build stronger relationships with their audience without competing for attention in a crowded feed. Those who excel at creating continuous, Farcaster-native, and engaging content are likely to continue growing their audience with the platform's growth. A good example of Farcaster-native branded channels would be /Base or /Zora.

Rise of Personal Channels
A few days after channel creation became permissionless, @six started the /six channel, followed by the creation of more personal channels. With complete control over moderation, authors can tailor their content to be as specific or broad as they wish. While there are many questions about the difference between casting to the feed (no channel) vs a personal channel, here are a few quotes from new hosts of their own channels.

"Q: Why make your own channel?

A: I want a place to write my own thoughts, I do treat Warpcast as a way to jot down notes and thoughts, and I'd like to do without polluting other channels - almost like thinking outloud - a bit more public; however, not spamming. Hence my own channel to think in"

@july https://warpcast.com/july/0x0e49dc38

"...i moderate my own channel so in addition to casting my own content (in original posts or quote casts that are curated from the information i consume), i can curate content from others by boosting / hiding. plus creates a stronger sense of exclusivity and closeness compared to seeing what i cast via my profile page."

@ted https://warpcast.com/ted/0x4169e438

I personally believe that this will be the rising sector on Farcaster, in some way mirroring Telegram mechanics. Personal channels would offer the most intimate and curated type of interaction, while still maintaining the goal of casting to large audiences and getting discovered through algorithms.

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