Telegram is a popular alternative to WhatsApp. If you’ve used it before, you must have noticed in the app that it contains channels and groups in addition to the usual one-on-one chats. What is a channel in Telegram? How is it different from a Telegram group? You can find answers to these questions in this article.
You can use Telegram as a simple chat app, broadcast tool, or a medium for group interaction using channels and groups. Each feature has its advantages and disadvantages over the other. By the end of the article, you will clearly know the differences between groups and channels, and you will know which one to create.
Telegram Channel vs Group: basic difference
Telegram Channel is quite similar to the broadcast feature of WhatsApp to send one-way broadcast messages to members, commonly known as subscribers. Only admins can send messages in Telegram channels. Other people cannot reply or send messages on the channel.
On the contrary, Telegram Group is like any other chat group where people can send messages and interact. With that said, group admins get permissions to restrict member posts, make the group public or private, make other members as admins, and more.
Let’s put things in perspective with the help of WhatsApp. Telegram groups are similar to WhatsApp groups, where people can interact with each other. Likewise, Telegram channels are the energy-charged versions of WhatsApp mailing lists.
Point: Find out what is the difference between Telegram Channel and WhatsApp Broadcast.
Number of members and subscribers
People who join a Telegram group and channels are called members and subscribers respectively. Groups can have up to 200,000 members. That said, Telegram channels can have unlimited subscribers.
Who can see the members
In groups, members can check other members of the group. However, channel subscribers cannot see other participants. So they don’t know who else has subscribed to the channel. That said, you can still see the total number of members / subscribers in a particular channel or group.
In short, Channel protects the privacy of subscribers because they cannot see each other. On the other hand, Channel allows its members to interact in the group or send messages to each other in private.
See the counter
Telegram channels come with a great feature to track how many people have viewed messages. You’ll notice a little eye icon next to the posts, and it’s updated whenever someone sees the post. The view counter helps you better understand your channel’s performance. This feature is not available in groups.
You can add more admins by turning other members into one to help you manage the group or channel. Fortunately, you can customize administrator privileges, such as enabling / disabling adding members, changing information, etc.
Point: If you want to keep track of what each admin is doing, you have the Recent Actions feature in Channels. To access it, open the channel edit screen. Then tap Recent actions.
Typically, when the administrator sends a message in a channel, it is sent with the name of the channel. On the other hand, group messages have the real name of the administrator.
But you can reverse the scenario in either case. You can enable administrator signing in channels where messages will have administrator name along with channel name. Likewise, you can hide the administrator name in Groups and send messages with the group name for each administrator separately by changing administrator rights.
Point: Find out what is the difference between Telegram and Discord.
Types of groups and channels
You can create public or private groups as well as channels. In private channels or groups, you need to add members or they can join using an invite link. When it comes to public groups or channels, you can use Telegram’s built-in search to find them. Anyone can therefore seek them out and join them.
Note: You can link in all types of channels and groups.
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When new subscribers join a Telegram channel, they can see the entire message history up to the day the channel was created. While the same feature is available in Groups, it can be turned off if you don’t want new members to see old messages. You can do this by turning off the chat history feature in group settings.
Send silent messages
Telegram strings offer yet another great feature in the form of silent messages. Basically, channel admins can send silent messages to subscribers. Telegram will send the messages to the recipients, but they will not receive any audible notification for that message. This function is useful for sending late night messages or non-urgent messages. To use it, just tap the little bell icon next to the input box in the string. This feature is not available in groups.
How to tell if you’ve joined a group or channel
One of the easiest ways to identify a group is to search for text online at the top. Basically you can see the number of people who are online at the moment in any group. Otherwise, tap the group name. If you see members, you’ve joined a group.
To identify a channel, look for the eye icon next to posts. Otherwise, if you don’t see the members, it means you are in a channel.
Point: Find out how to turn off contact attached notifications on Telegram.
Other similar characteristics
Some other features available in both include channel / group description, pinned posts, ability to search, edit posts, etc.
Convert telegram channel to group and vice versa
You cannot directly convert a channel to a group or vice versa. However, you can use other workarounds to achieve the same. For example, you can link a group to a channel. Anything you post to a channel will automatically be posted to the linked group. To do this, open the channel settings and navigate to Chat. Then create a new group or select an existing one.
On the other hand, to convert a group to a channel, you will need to prevent others from sending messages in the group by changing the group permissions. This way, only the administrator can send messages in groups.
Point: If you don’t want users to bombard groups with random messages, you can set a time limit after which a user can send another message.
Which one to use
Whether groups or channels, both are loaded with unique and exciting features. If you only want to broadcast messages without letting people interact, you have to use channels. As mentioned, you can always hook up a group to discuss things if the need arises.
However, if the conversation or interaction of several people plays an important role, then groups would be a better choice. You can always restrict it as needed and convert it to a temporary channel.
Last updated Jan 21, 2021
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