Chat application giant Viber, with over 13 million users in the Philippines alone, has become a very real contender in the local social platform space with the roll out of Viber Public Chats.
What’s Public Chats?
Public Chats enables users to share their conversations to other users, whether or not those users are their contacts. In a way, this most closely resembles how Twitter chats occur; users “follow” a chat hashtag and participate in the conversations. Following on Viber Public Chats is done via the Public Chats Explore section, or through a URL. Users can also invite others, adding another social component to the channel. The biggest difference is that the Viber Public Chat does not yet support two-way participation. Audiences may simply “watch” a Public Chat, but not reply or comment to specific messages in real-time.
Promising for Brands and Businesses
At this time, the major business that has explored using Viber Public Chats are telecommunications but it’s clear that this new way of using a widely used communications platform holds plenty of promise for brands, big and small.
Basic uses could be as simple as using Public Chats as an announcement stage, especially for companies in the service industry, where information (especially customer service-oriented ones) generally affects most of their respective consumers. This would allow an audience to immediately receive pull notifications (push uses too much precious juice from smartphones) in the form of a Viber message within the Public Chats window.
This could also be promising for individuals or groups with already-loyal public followers, such as radio show hosts or blogger groups. Viber Public Chats could serve as an extension of their podcasts, video blogs, or even Twitter chats. Of course, the lack of audience participation at this time might not make this ideal for some groups.
With Facebook’s organic reach becoming increasingly detrimental for businesses with great content, as well as Twitter getting noisier by the day, Public Chats is a whole new avenue for brands to communicate to consumers, right on the device they use the most on a day to day basis.
2015 will be an interesting one for Viber and the digital communications industry in the Philippines as more brands and businesses come up with creative ways on how to best use Viber Public Chats.