Telegram users can now access business features and get a cut of ad revenue

Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Telegram has added a couple of features that aim to take its app far beyond its roots as a mere messaging tool. On Sunday, the company announced that anyone with a Premium account can turn their Telegram account into a business account and get all the associated benefits, and that channel owners can now earn half of the revenue generated by ads in their channels.

Previously, if you wanted to use your Telegram account to promote a business, you had to code to add special features such as bots and mini-apps. Now, any Premium subscriber can tap into Telegram’s business features for free—no coding required. Telegram charges $4.99 per month or $35.99 per year for its Premium and Business plans.

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With a business account, brick-and-mortar stores can post their hours of operation and pinpoint their location on a map. Any business–physical or virtual–can create a customized start page highlighting specific products, services, and other information.

To help with customer support, anyone who sends you a message about your business can receive a custom welcome greeting. You can use quick replies to automatically respond to people with preset messages containing formatted text, stickers, links, and other items. Plus, you can trigger an away message if you’re on vacation or your business is closed.

To encourage potential customers to contact your business, you can set up chat links on your account page. Tapping such a link opens a chat with a suggested message that potential customers can edit and send. For example, a restaurant might want to set up a link where someone can reserve a table. A retail company may want a link that someone can tap to track an order.

To organize all the messages you receive, you can use folders, colored labels, and tags. Plus, you don’t have to respond to every message yourself. Telegram offers chatbots that answer messages for you. You can direct your chatbot to respond only to new chats or to exclude chats with existing business contacts.

Also: WhatsApp vs. Signal vs. Telegram vs. Facebook: What data do they have about you?

Next on the list of new features is a way for channel owners to grab a slice of the revenue pie. Telegram channel owners with at least 1,000 subscribers can now score 50% of the revenue generated by ads displayed in their channels. You can withdraw the money with no fees required or reinvest it into ads, collectible usernames, or other paid Telegram perks.

To check out your channel’s money-making stats in the Telegram app, go to Channel Settings, select Statistics, and then select Monetization. Telegram says that you’ll be able to withdraw the money in the coming weeks through the integrated Fragment website.

To access the new features or sign up for a Telegram Premium or Telegram Business account, launch the Telegram app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Tap the Settings icon and then select Telegram Business.  

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