The much-awaited WhatsApp Communities feature is rolling out to users globally, and everyone is wondering what exactly is this feature. Not only that, but many are also comparing WhatsApp Communities to groups and questioning the need for the former. Well, we are here to answer all of that and more. WhatsApp Communities, for those unaware, allow users to bring together related groups and organize the same in a better manner. That means thousands of users can participate in a community, which hosts several sub-groups, and receive the necessary information on time. There are several other differences between WhatsApp Communities vs Groups, be it the number of users, admin controls, privacy features, and more. So let’s dive in and have a closer look.
How Are WhatsApp Communities Different from Groups?
Note: We have tested WhatsApp Communities on both Android and iPhone while working on the comparison. We tried the WhatsApp Community feature on beta as well as stable builds on iOS 16, Android 13, and Android 12.
Communities Depend on Groups
First up, WhatsApp groups and communities are more alike than different. WhatsApp groups are a space where you can invite users, and everyone can text each other on a related topic. Groups are useful for discussing important topics, planning and organizing events, or simply keeping in touch with loved ones.
WhatsApp Communities, on the other hand, is a collection of relevant groups under one roof. That means a community is dependent on groups and wouldn’t exist without them. This feature is designed to empower societies, organizations, schools, and several others who primarily use WhatsApp for day-to-day communication. WhatsApp Communities give them a way to better organize different groups and dispense information in a more effortless manner.
WhatsApp Communities allow independent groups to conduct their own conversations and meetings while having a common group with all members to share major announcements.
Design and UI Changes
The design difference may sound trivial to some but can be an easy differentiator between WhatsApp groups and communities. First of all, your communities are accessible in a separate tab within WhatsApp. You will see a new “community” icon next to the “Chats” tab in the top navigation bar on Android and in the bottom bar on iPhone.
Now, the next and most important differentiator between a WhatsApp group and a community is the profile icon design. Yeah, the groups in WhatsApp have a circular profile picture, while the communities have a rounded rectangle icon. Also, the groups you add to your community have a repeated circular icon, differentiating them from all your standard groups.
User Size Differences
One of the major differences between groups and communities is their size. Since groups are standalone and communities can have many groups, the latter will obviously be bigger in size.
At the time of writing this article, you can invite up to 512 participants to join a WhatsApp group. This limit is, however, set to increase to 1,024 participants in the coming weeks. On the other hand, WhatsApp Communities can have up to 21 groups under one roof. And if you do the math, a community can have up to 21,504 (21 x 1,024) participants. That means you can reach a relatively larger group of users at the same time with the Communities feature.
Note: There seems to be an odd discrepancy while setting up and managing communities. While creating a new WhatsApp community, I can only add up to 21 groups (new and existing). However, while managing groups within a community, the app lets me add up to 51 groups, which is weird as it’s not in line with the initial maximum 21-group limit. I’ve shown the initial 21-group limit in the screenshot above.
Now, the size difference between a group and a community brings us to our next point. With the creation of a WhatsApp Community, each member of the individual groups that join the community is automatically added to an announcement group. It is essentially a broadcast channel, where community admins (not group admins) can post major announcements or other relevant messages. That means you will no longer need to copy-paste or forward messages in multiple groups, addressing everyone at once.
Moreover, an announcement group that’s part of a community has its own perks. One, members can choose to leave the announcement group to not be bombarded with texts but remain part of the community. Also, while researching the topic and trying out the Communities feature, we came across a weird discrepancy.
WhatsApp permits you to invite up to 21 groups to a community, which amounts to a maximum of ~21,500 members (as explained above). But the announcement group can only have up to 5,000 participants, as per the official WhatsApp support page. Now, how do all the other members get the message? Does the community get multiple announcement groups? This is still a mystery to me.
Admin is Supreme Power
Much like groups, the admin is the supreme power in WhatsApp Communities. While the community creator presides over the whole thing, community admins help manage and keep the members in check.
Members of a WhatsApp community have limited power, as they cannot invite new members or add new groups. However, the admins can add or remove members or groups that are a part of the community. The admins can send messages in the announcement group and delete messages sent by others. They also have the power to edit the community title, description, and icon.
Upgraded User Privacy
Yes, WhatsApp has finally implemented a much-needed privacy feature with the release of Communities. If you are a part of any WhatsApp group, head to the group setting, and you will be able to see the complete list of participants. Even if you don’t have their contact saved, you will be able to see their phone number. Not in Communities!
In WhatsApp Communities, you can only see the number of members who are part of it. You cannot see the complete list of members, along with their phone numbers here. Only the community creator, admins, and your own info are visible to you here. You can also see the list of participants in the individual groups you are part of. It’s an amazing privacy feature that will safeguard community members against unnecessary and targeted harassment.
Video and Audio Calling
WhatsApp Communities do not have a video or audio calling option, per se. Moreover, since the announcement groups can include up to 5,000 members from the smaller discussion groups invited to the community, it doesn’t make sense to include the video or audio calling buttons there.
You will need to rely on these smaller groups to conduct meetings or discuss matters among yourself. To support this, WhatsApp recently increased the limit on the number of participants in an audio or video call to 32 members.
Easier to Kick Out Users
This is an essential feature for organizations, schools, and other communities but can be used in a malicious way. During our testing, we found that you can remove a member not just from WhatsApp communities but also from each and every group (within that community) they are a part of at the same time.
This feature would come in handy for society admins, who can quickly update the member’s list if there’s a change in occupancy. They can remove the old tenants from the community (as well as all the groups) and add the new ones. Also, you can use the feature to put an end to some users’ nuisance by booting them from every common group with a single tap.
Can’t Transfer Ownership
If you have been using WhatsApp groups for a long time and are an admin in a few of them, you would know that leaving a group when you are the admin transfers the ownership and admin role to another user in your group. However, that’s not the case with Communities. In the new WhatsApp Communities feature, the community creator cannot exit or be removed as an admin.
Similarities Between WhatsApp Group and Community
Since a WhatsApp community is itself made up of groups, all the features and rules applicable to groups are identical here. Here are all the features that are similar between a WhatsApp community and a group:
These are all the features that are already available in WhatsApp groups and are accessible within Communities as well. If we have missed out on any feature, do let us know in the comments below.
WhatsApp Group vs Community: Similarities and Differences
Hope this guide helps clear out some doubts if you were wondering whether to stick to your existing groups or add multiple groups under a community in WhatsApp. In my brief testing, I realized that the WhatsApp Communities feature is a good addition for users, societies, and organizations who usually relied on several different groups for communication but can now organize and manage them all together in one place. Have you received the WhatsApp Community feature? If yes, how has your experience been with this feature? Do let us know in the comments section.