There’s no doubt that Telegram has seen astronomical growth over the past few years. The chat app lets its 500 million users send and react to messages, add interactive stickers, build bots, and create groups, including large groups that a leader can broadcast to.
But Telegram has a dark side too. It’s been plagued with security and privacy issues, from spam bots and phishing to malware and cyber criminality. The features come at a price.
And, depending on what you want from a chat app, Telegram may not be the best option anyway. In this article we’ll introduce you to 8 Telegram alternatives. Each of these Telegram competitors offers something different, but there’s something here for everyone.
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In this article…
1. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is a powerful cultural software platform that combines community, content, courses, and commerce. That means that it works as a community chat app with a powerful forum and messaging features built in. You can build and customize a community, easily inviting the people you want there or even selling memberships – you can collect payment in currencies from around the world, or even monetize with token-gating.
Mighty lets you customize flexible community Spaces, with features like live streaming, live events, messaging, member profiles, and -- of course -- chat.
It has a secure chat function, from 1:1 to group chats to messaging all members. And, unlike Telegram, it’s both secure and safe. You get to decide who’s in your community – you can even add a membership questionnaire if you want to screen potential members. Once people are in, there are also lots of community moderation and reporting tools, meaning that spam and phishing are pretty much non-issue in a Mighty Network.
Besides chat, Telegram also gives you a broadcasting feature. And in the same way, each Mighty Network has native live streaming built in. With a full set of event scheduling and RSVP features, plus a great app, Mighty Networks is an awesome Telegram alternative. The community plan starts from $33/mo.
WhatsApp is another Telegram alternative that’s really well-known, especially outside North America. It’s a chat app that lets you message 1:1, create group chats, and have video & voice calls. The calls use wifi or data instead of calling minutes, which can be great for people who need to call out of the country a lot. The messaging function is powerful, and you can send different types of messages like audio, images, documents, or videos.
WhatsApp’s other claim to fame is its security features, with end-to-end encryption. These security features, although not perfect, are still considered much better than Telegram’s. WhatsApp does a good job replicating Telegram’s chat features, but isn’t the best replacement for building groups of people who don’t know each other or for live streaming.
You probably know about Discord. It’s a forum-builder with a mix of live streaming tools built in. Created for gamers to share about the games they love plus show off their skills, Discord has some good features. You can chat with other members, create channels, and grow a community.
In terms of its online forum, you can customize member roles and members can have back and forth chats. There are some monetization features with Discord, but you need to apply to them in order to sell plans and not everyone gets accepted.
The other thing that makes Discord a good Telegram alternative is its event features. As we mentioned above, you can create a live event if you have the Stage mod. This gives you the option to share your screen (remember it was invented for gamers), but you can also go live and chat with your members while you broadcast.
Discord works best for a free community, without monetization, and it’s really good for what it was invented to do – bring gamers together.
Viber is another community and chat option that’s an alternative to Telegram. It works well as a community chat, giving you a space to bring members together, organize conversations, and appoint admin.
Viber has really good security and privacy features. It has user verification options plus end-to-end encryption, giving you a combination of safety factors. And it has other cool tools, like setting messages to disappear after a certain time. Viber also has a phone connection so you can call landlines and mobile numbers around the world.
All together, Viber is a great chat-only Telegram option. But, there’s a catch. It’s missing the comprehensive community features that a real community platform has – it’s possible to create huge chat groups, but usability isn’t really anything more than a group chat. 1,000 people in a group chat is a nightmare. And it’s not made for monetization either, so if you want to earn from broadcasting or communities, you’d be better to go a different way.
5. MS Teams
Let’s talk about another Telegram alternative: Microsoft Teams. MS Teams was launched to be a corporate, remote work solution. It has a really solid chat engine that lets you create individual and group chats – since its primarily used for work, this is usually with people from your organization. Teams is a fantastic way to organize work at an office.
Another thing Teams does well is events. It integrates with MS Office to add “one-click” event scheduling, giving you functionality for meetings and webinars. The MS Teams event has a good interface, an in-meeting chat, and it’s easy to join and invite others (although users either need to use Teams or a Microsoft Edge browser). MS Teams is also a really secure software with end-to-end encryption.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Telegram for the office, to organize work, MS Teams is a really good option. It doesn’t work as well for building a community that doesn’t know each other, with no real forum features. And it wouldn’t really work for a community you want to monetize. It’s also not great for broadcasting, working much better for meetings.
If you’re looking for a Telegram alternative for the office, Slack is also a great one. Slack is older than MS Teams, and was built with a similar goal – organizing coworking. It’s the darling of a lot of remote offices (the ones that aren’t using Teams, that is), and it works great. Slack works more like a forum than Teams does – falling somewhere in between a forum and a chat software. It lets you organize discussions into different channels, as well as by thread. You can invite others into a thread by @mentioning them, and it lets you add lots of different types of content. Slack works really well for 1:1 audio meetings, “huddles,” that give you the power to call someone in real time.
Some of the limitations of Slack: It’s not quite as versatile as MS Teams as a business solution, requiring integrations (ie. with Zoom) to do some of the video meeting features Teams has. It’s also not great for monetization OR for live events. All this means that Slack works best for organizing work teams, but it could work for a free community – which is what some creators are using it for. But if you want to really grow your membership or monetize, you’d probably ned to move to a different platform.
Snapchat is a messaging app that’s another option for those looking for an alternative to Telegram. It’s primarily for sharing video and photos, and you can add on different creative features to these like emojis, text, or filters. You can send these snaps as 1:1 Messages or share publicly as a story.
The unique (and famous) thing about Snapchat is that the snaps disappear after a set amount of time – meaning that they can be viewed once in many cases. Snapchat can be used to add your friends, although you can also connect with people nearby.
Snapchat was launched to counteract the idea that anything you create online sticks around forever. It focuses on quick interactions and personalization. Snapchat works as a Telegram alternative only for 1:1 or group photo/video messaging.
8. Google Chat
Google Chat is Google’s answer to chatting with friends, sort of like Facebook Messenger. You need to send an invitation to chat with someone and, if they accept, you’re off to the races. Google Chat is pretty simple (much like other Google products), but it works really well for 1:1 or small group chats.
Google Chats has taken a lot of notes from Slack, and it works in a similar way. There are Spaces that let you either create a discussion space OR a group chat. To this, you can add Google Docs, Calendar and Google Meet invites, plus video, emojis, and GIFs. It has a lot of good functionality, and like Slack, would work really well for an office – especially if it’s an office that uses Google Drive products.
As an alternative to Telegram, Google Chats has the chat function as well as the encryption. This makes it a great chat app. It’s simple and free, and it’s popularity is growing. Google is limited in the same way other chat and work apps on this list are. It’s not great for community-building, best for people who already know each other. There’s no real forum-type organization, it’s just a running thread of conversation (if you missed some, you’d have to try to scroll up). It also wouldn’t really give you features for monetization.
Ready to start?
If you’re ready to get your online conversation started, come try Mighty Networks! It’s a powerful chat and community platform that will give you all the versatility you need to WOW your members. Plus, it’s super safe, a cultivated group of people chatting about things that matter to them.
Add in live events, course features, live streaming, and even the option to create your own branded app, and it’s the best Telegram alternative. Oh yeah, and it’s also ranked the #1 community software by G2. Come see what you could build with it! It’s free to try.