At the launch of Viber new feature, Public Chats, Vulcan Post was there to get the insight scoop on this new social entertainment concept.
True to form, Mark Hardy was present via a Viber call to celebrate the launch of Viber’s Public Chats in Singapore as well as to answer questions about the new concept.
With over three million active users in Singapore alone, Viber boasts as one of the fastest growing instant messaging application out there. And since its Beta Launch of Public Chats last night in cities such as London and New York, the new feature has impressively garnered 311 chats globally with 70,000 followers and counting.
Viber’s representative from London, Sally Burtt-Jones, was also present at the launch and talked about how Public Chats will diversify the social media scene without changing the concept Viber already encapsulates as a global mobile messaging application.
“The nice thing about telling stories on Viber is that they are in the same format as people using Viber on a daily basis already. We are not trying to change user behavior on Viber. People are already in conversations. We are just giving them access to newer conversations that they would not have previously.”
With that said, Public Chats now has celebrities such as Perez Hilton who on his public chat has a string of doodles, plenty of gossiping and even a gathering for New Yorkers in the works.
Not forgetting singer-songwriter Pixie Lott, also another early adopter, who already has 30,000 followers who are listening in to her conversations with her make-up artists and stylists about what to wear for her next performance.
As for the local scene, Viber is collaborating with nine partners consisting of non-profit group Project Happy Feet, local pop band Tricks & Cider, as well as online running magazine, RunSociety.
Safe place to converse for brands
The nature of Public Chat being an open conversation for all to see sets to question how safe the environment is for the participating users and celebrities participating.
However, for reputable brands and personalities out there, do not fret. In order to be a participant in an existing chat, the creator of the chat must add him or her so as to allow the individual to contribute to the content within the Public Chat. And as easy as it is to get into a conversation, it is also just as easy to get the boot if the content by the individual is seen as harmful to brands as owners can easily delete comments and remove these participants.
This essentially filters out rude and unconstructive comments that may flood the conversation and disenchant the quality of the conversations users will see and follow.
And according to its as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Mark Hardy, Public Chats is focusing on getting “Everyone using and creating great content” for all to see.
This emphasis on quality conversations is what sets Public Chats apart from other social networking sites out there, as it allows people to simply listen in to the conversation without the advent of ads popping ever so often or commercialized messages by their celebrities.
This is because celebrities and participants are also required to follow guidelines and avoid posting commercialized content – a way in which Viber’s Public Chats can keep to its promise of creating and allowing only great and valuable content to be featured.
Furthermore, users can also report a Public Chat if they deem it to be offensive and distasteful.
How Public is Public Chats?
With celebrities posting their everyday conversations and thousands of followers listening in, exactly how transparent are these conversations?
Well, even with a multitude of followers, the content within these Public Chats can still be controlled to a certain extent. This is to allow the creators the free hand at controlling what can be featured to the world (or its followers in this case) and what can be excluded.
According to Viber’s CEO, Talmon Marco, Public Chats will allow its users to interact in a new way as compared to their current mode of interaction.
“They (participants) are opening up their conversations on Viber and we’re sure our users will love the fly-on-the-wall experience this delivers.” Said Marco.
Furthermore, a Public Chat participant is just that – a participant. They will not be able to see the information from its followers, only those participating in the chat.
As for its followers, their experience is strictly their own as other followers will not be able to see who they are following, unless the users invite them.
So, calling all stalkers, this is your platform to start fangirling and oogling over your favourite personalities as this new feature is bound to cause waves in the social media scene in its following months, seeing how its beta launch has already proven to be successful.
Well, amongst Perez Hilton’s followers that is.