According to Sensor Tower, Telegram has over 365 million users across the world. Considering competition companies are struggling with the most popular networks such as Facebook or Instagram, this messenger can be an excellent opportunity to add it to your marketing mix and capitalize on it.
The Telegram “Channel” feature is similar to the Facebook page. Anyone can search for your channel in the messenger and join it, and there is no limit to the maximum members. The most popular channels have a few million users, most of them are Indian (real proof that it’s going to be the most populous nation very soon!) and Russian (Telegram’s founder is from Russia and that’s where it all started).
You can use all the different media formats such as video, gif, photo etc and your message gets delivered to all your channel subscribers (unlike on Facebook where you have to promote every post to reach your users). Telegram has no official ads and no newsfeed — you join the channel and follow their news, so there is no competition for users. You can find the relevant channels on either Tgstat.com or by searching inside the app.
In terms of business, it started growing in the US because of the crypto community, when hungry founders were trying to raise funds for their ICO startups and drive users to their websites. Since then, many other entrepreneurs have started using Telegram to connect with their audiences.
Besides the obvious way of using Telegram as a content marketing channel to increase brand awareness, you can also sell your products there directly or take advantage of these tips:
1. Getting partners
If you run travel, cosmetics or other theme channels, you can ping any website related to category for getting partners. Website owners are always in hunger for traffic. So they will easily pay you a fee for your users. They can provide you the links of their content relevant to your subscribers, and you can post them. Normally, it would bring for both of you good benefits as you are always seeking for new content for your audience.
2. Posting affiliate links
This means promoting and selling a product of specific companies and earning a commission from every product you sell. It can be between a 5-10% fee from the price, so you can make thousands of dollars on a few dozen subscribers. You can work with different affiliate networks such as Amazon Affiliate, Travelpayouts, or Admitad.
Ilnar Khamidullin, One Dollar Trips (a channel that publishes hot tours in Russian, @onedollartrips), is making over a thousand dollars each month on affiliate marketing program with Travelpayouts affiliate network through its Telegram channel. According to Khamidullin, tours are the most lucrative niche in travel right now, as it brings a bigger commission than any other (compared to hotels or flight bookings).
He and his partner started the Telegram Channel in April 2017 with a budget of just $150, and over a year got 30K subscribers. The first sale came after they reached 10,000 followers in 2018. Right now Onedollartrips has over 56,000 subscribers.
Before Khamidullin started the channel, he had a small car tuning business. He said he decided to quit the market because it was oversaturated. “I was a newbie when I learned about affiliate marketing programs. Now, most of our traffic and profits come from Telegram. In the summer, we are getting over $3K per month on just affiliate marketing.”
3. Selling ads (but treat your users with respect; do not bombard them)
Ads can be sold on other channels for cross-promotion, or companies and brands can come to you for ads. Telegram doesn’t charge any commission and there are no rules/set prices for them. Admins decide how much they want to charge and then settle an agreement with the brands.
4. Charging a subscription fee
There is no Paywall on Telegram but you can use its features. Sometimes, channel owners offer free content on their public channel and then charge a fee for joining a private channel (also known as a supergroup) with premium content, available for paid subscribers only.
In this model, the public channel is promoted (with ads, cross-promotions, content marketing and other strategies), while the private channel is what actually generates the profit.
5. Asking for donations and venture capital
As a content creator, you can monetize through selling ads, paid subscriptions or donations. In this model, you allow your followers to either tip you after each publication or set up a recurring donation through Patreon.
Tipping is popular in Chinese WeChat messenger and is going into Telegram now.
Here’s a fun fact: During the crypto craze, a guy from Canada conducted an experiment. He announced a pool of TON (Telegram Open Network) investors in his tech channel and in an hour and a half received applications from people who were ready to invest more than $1,5 million in total. Then he made a post that he just wanted to check if he could raise money.
6. Starting a Telegram bot
As there are no in-built features for promoting channels on Telegram, a channel creator, you might need a bot to help manage it and to make your posts more attractive. ControllerBot is used in more than 100,000 channels and provides an opportunity to add reactions, emojis, special buttons like “Subscribe” “Open the website” “Show more” and add images. This bot is easy to use if you just follow the instructions. It’s also free of charge and helps schedule your posts.
Another bot is TGStat Bot. It will help you track statistics showing users’ engagement in your channel. It will also be useful to see public stats in other channels where you might be interested in promoting yours. Some channels might be not good for cross promo despite a good amount of subscribers. If they don’t engage there it means they don’t really read it and won’t see your post.
Summing it up: there are many ways of making the channel to work for you. Just don’t be greedy and don’t overdo it. Your main asset is your subscribers who trust you and follow your channel as long as they get something useful. When treated with respect, they would be loyal to your ads and other monetization techniques as they know that it helps you provide valuable content and support the platform.
Telegram is still a very new tool for marketers and it’s totally free. It’s worth giving it a shot if you want to build a community of loyal customers, entertain your current users or earn some extra money. Because Telegram’s API is available for anyone, it’s easy for developers to build external features for it. Check out if you have your relevant audience in the app and if you do, try to add it to your marketing mix.