A chat channel is the best way to bootstrap your community past a hundred people. It helps manage your brand’s social community. A chat is instantaneous; people receive both support and entertainment in a heartbeat. There are several Series A + businesses that manage a hundred WhatsApp groups each. Unfortunately, the managers lose more hair than they should, at their age. The big problem is that there hasn't been a great chat tool for communities so far. WhatsApp caps out at 250 users (and is too personal for the community). Telegram users are constantly spammed by other people. And Discord is painful to use on mobile. Since chat activity in 2021 is primarily going to come from mobile, you need something that can behave like Discord on the web but like WhatsApp or iMessage on the phone.
More importantly, you'll need to either break down your chat into enough subtopics or risk incredible volume on a single chat at scale. If you've ever seen a Twitch stream in action, you’d know what I mean.
Chats can get so incredibly noisy at scale that I personally believe a 10k+ community should be moved to a forum immediately. I'd even start at 1k.
💡The challenge in migrating a chat community tool to a forum tool is a pain. You can do this seamlessly on Scenes because both channels are on the same tool — you don't erode social capital on the switch.
With more than 100,000 users on Scenes and 50,000 users on Discord, we've noted three interesting insights about chat:
1) Chats need mobile notifications: There's absolutely no way you can receive chat notifications if you are on the web (sending email notifications will lead to spam; and very few people enable desktop notifications). Without your community on mobile, you're going to lose a ton of engagement. You also needed threaded chat notifications and not individual messages for every user (Discord sends individual messages).
2) Competing community chats cannibalize each other: If a person uses a single app to be a part of, say, 20 communities, they will eventually turn off all notifications on the app itself. Unlike WhatsApp, where almost all messages have unique relevance to you, a Discord, Scenes, or Slack community will always have other irrelevant conversations in communities you are a part of.
While choosing a community tool, choose the one with the least number of competing communities, or get a custom app made.
3) 50% of the people mute chats: Fed up with impersonalized notifications, one in two people on Scenes mutes a chat. This number is much worse on Discord and Slack, with almost everyone muting an entire irrelevant server/workspace. Discord's notification pattern is to send you many notifications when you join a server, then sending you none at all if you don't interact with the server. Once your chat hits scale, you should move to the forum channel or add more chat channels (balance is the keyword here, as too many channels confuse new users).
💡With Scenes, users can mute chats but still receive notifications from events and forums.
There is no denying the fact that chat channels are a great way to level up your online community engagement. But there are a few key challenges associated with managing one. If you’re having some challenges of your own, you can always reach out to our community experts for advice. Just click here.