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What is a channel?

A channel is a way for people to communicate, access information, and exchange information.

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A channel is a medium for communication, allowing people to access and exchange information and engage in conversation. Channels enable users to interact with a business or other users, though they may vary in their format, purpose, technology, and popularity with users.

Examples of channels for in-app communications include: in-app messages, voice calls, video calls, or AI chatbots. Different channels offer different features, and cater to different user preferences or use cases. As a result, businesses should establish and support the channels that their customers prefer, and enable the use cases critical to success.

Essential channels for in-app communications

  • One-to-one chat: A private channel that allows individual users to communicate via text message and share rich media in the app. Also known as in-app messaging or 1:1 chat.

  • Group chat: A private channel that allows multiple users to participate in a conversation at once, allowing for collaboration and coordination among users who’ve been invited or have access.

  • Public group chat: A channel open to all app users, providing a place to share ideas, seek advice, and engage in broader public discussions. Also known as a community Channel or public forum.

  • Push notifications: An alert or notification on a mobile device created by an app that notifies the user of a new message or in-app activity, even though the user isn’t active in the app. Push notifications appear on the home screen of a mobile device, providing a way to re-engage inactive users.

  • AI chatbots: An automated software program that uses artificial intelligence to interact with app users, providing 24/7 information, assistance, and automated tasks. AI chatbots enhance support capabilities and improve user experience.

  • Voice calling: A private or public channel that lets users initiate voice calls for real-time conversations and is enabled by online VoIP services (Voice over Internet Protocol).

  • Video calling: A private or public channel that lets users initiate video calls for face-to-face conversations remotely and is enabled by online VoIP services (Voice over Internet Protocol).

  • Live streaming: A private channel that allows businesses or content creators to broadcast real-time video to users at any scale with integrated instantaneous chat capabilities.

  • Support channels: This includes any in-app channel dedicated to customer support, such as chatbots, in-app chat, and voice calling. Users can request assistance, report issues, or get help within the app.

  • Integrated channels: A channel integrated with external communication channels, such as email, SMS, or social media. They allow users to have conversations across multiple popular channels within a unified messaging experience.

Channel subtypes

There are two subtypes of channels: open and group. Each is conducive to various use cases, conversation styles, and user experiences.

  • Open channels: A channel that enables users to join and participate in conversation with any number of others without an invitation. For example: Reddit chat.

  • Group channels: A channel that enables close interaction among a limited set of users. An invitation to join and participate in a group channel must be sent from a current channel member or administrator. For example: WhatsApp group chats.

Each channel for communication caters to different use cases, conversation types, and user preferences. Sendbird and other leading in-app communications platforms allow you to create, manage, delete, and moderate any channels in your app to meet the needs and preferences of your user base.

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