WhatsApp channels for publishers: new ways to engage readers

Gundel Henke

WhatsApp channels offer publishers an additional way to get in touch with their readers. In this article, we will look at what exactly WhatsApp channels are, how they work and how publishers can make the most of these innovative channels.

What are WhatsApp channels?

WhatsApp channels are public channels that end users can subscribe to. This means that private individuals can follow these channels to stay informed about certain topics. This feature opens up new marketing perspectives for publishers and companies.

WhatsApp attaches particular importance to the protection of privacy. Both the personal data of administrators and subscribers should remain secure and protected. The idea is to introduce a broadcast function that enables one-way communication. Subscribers can only respond to posts with emojis.

Who can create WhatsApp channels?

This function is currently only available to users of business accounts. Private individuals cannot create channels, they can only subscribe to them. Interaction is therefore one-way. WhatsApp introduced this feature worldwide in September 2023, having previously tested it in Singapore and Colombia. The good news for German publishers: WhatsApp channels have also been available in this country since September 13.

How can users subscribe to WhatsApp channels?

The function includes a channel list that WhatsApp users can use to search for specific channels. The automatic filtering is based on the country code of the phone number and the user's language selection. Additional filters make it possible to expand or restrict the selection.

Companies that have created a WhatsApp channel receive a link that users can use to easily subscribe to the channel.

It should be noted that channel owners have no insight into the reach, comparable to platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. The exact number of people who have seen the message therefore remains in the dark.

WhatsApp channels open up exciting opportunities for publishers in terms of reader loyalty and the targeted exchange of information. Use these new ways to address your readership even more directly and personally!

Publishing strategies for WhatsApp: How to stay close to your readers

Around 44 million people in Germany use WhatsApp, and the messenger is particularly popular with the young target group. Publishers can exploit this potential, especially as young people represent an interesting target group for them. The versatility of WhatsApp channels makes it possible to address a broad audience and use a wide variety of formats such as texts, photos, videos and links. WhatsApp channels thus offer publishers a wide range of opportunities to reach their readers, interact with them and engage in true multichannel publishing.

Source: Digital 2022 - Global overview repot, https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2022-global-overview-report

1. breaking news

A proven strategy is to use WhatsApp as a platform for the most important news of the day. These daily summaries not only serve as a snapshot of the headlines, but are also intended to increase interest in longer articles on the website or in the app. Some publishers have already successfully used this engagement.

An additional advantage is the possibility of gaining new subscribers via WhatsApp. Publishers can expand their readership through targeted linking of content that often leads to subscriptions.

Local media can particularly benefit from WhatsApp channels by sharing daily updates on current local topics, similar to a newsletter. Stuttgarter Nachrichten and Kölner Stadtanzeiger are good examples, each with over 10,000 subscribers who are regularly provided with relevant information.

WhatsApp channel Stuttgarter Nachrichten
WhatsApp channel Kölner Stadtanzeiger

The daily updates of the Kölner Stadtanzeiger are characterized by the personal signature of an editor, which gives the news an authentic dimension. This individual signature promotes reader loyalty by creating a direct connection between readers and editors, building trust and strengthening personal bonds. In a digital era characterized by virtual interactions, this personal touch enables a tangible relationship between readers and the media house. It goes beyond the mere consumption of information and enables a deeper connection to the people behind the news.

2. focus on stories

Another format is story posts, which offer short summaries of articles to give the reader more context to the story without having to leave the app. The New York Times uses its channel to distribute video content on specific stories. The Financial Times also shares summaries of individual articles on its WhatsApp channel.

WhatsApp channel Financial Times

3. interaction with readers

Despite the limited interaction options on WhatsApp, publishers can receive direct feedback from their readers and capture sentiment through surveys, quizzes or cartoons.


WhatsApp is one of the most popular messengers worldwide and is used by people of all ages. Whether it's a small local newspaper or a large publisher, the exchange and close contact with readers is crucial. WhatsApp channels offer publishers a great way to share regular updates and stay in close contact with their readership. However, it is important to note that each distribution channel requires its own strategy, and communication on other social media channels cannot simply be adopted 1:1 for WhatsApp. If publishers embrace it, WhatsApp can be a fantastic way to strengthen the bond with their readers.

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Kevin Kallenbach
Head of Sales