Reddit’s Adding Chat Rooms to Boost On-Platform Engagement


Reddit’s taking its next steps towards becoming a more social platform with the addition of dedicated chat rooms on subreddits that will enable users to engage in real-time, back and forth discussions with other members.

As reported by Wired, the new chat rooms have evolved from Reddit usage patterns, which show that Reddittors are increasingly looking for ways to engage around topics in real-time.

“Alex Le, Reddit’s VP of product, says community chat serves a different function than Reddit’s comment threads. He points to sports subreddits, many of which already hack together semi real-time threads for game days. “They default sort that conversation by ‘new’ instead of by ‘best.’ What emerges then is people shouting into the comment box the thing that they just saw on the screen, and it’s appearing next to what someone else saw on the screen. So that’s almost real time”.

That type of interaction is more suited to a closed, discussion room atmosphere. You could also point to direct messaging conversations for such interactions, but for one, Reddit already has an option on this front.

Reddit chat screenshot

And two, the anonymous nature of the platform means that users aren’t necessarily looking to chat with people they already know. There’s a need for a real-time discussion thread which anyone can join, engaging with community members who are passionate about the same things, but aren’t necessarily already connected.

And as anyone who’s ever searched through Reddit knows, there are some very passionate, very niche, Reddit communities. Chat rooms, while more of an ‘old school’ internet function, make perfect sense in this context.

Reddit chat room example

The move is the latest effort by Reddit to facilitate more engagement within its app. Reddit has long been known as an originator of internet trends, where those ‘in the know’ go to interact and share the latest memes and tips. But many of those discussions quickly spill off Reddit, and onto other platforms. To counter this, Reddit’s working to add in new tools to keep users around on platform, rather than being merely the host of the first stages of such discussion.

The risk is that Reddit could become too much like every other social platform. We’re seeing that, in some ways, with the evolution of Snapchat – while the app built its reputation on being the anti-Facebook, a place for non-permanent, quick-sharing discussions, Snap is slowly adding in more and more permanent tools and features, which bring it further into line with every other network.

That dilutes their original offering. Will that see people eventually start to lose interest when they realize it’s much the same as everything else?

Reddit could risk similar, but the platform is taking the right approach, catering to user behaviors, rather than chasing advertiser dollars and key performance metrics.

Along the same line, Reddit’s also testing a new ‘News’ tab within its beta app, in order to help users find more relevant content, another tool designed to boost established user actions. And clearly, Reddit’s doing something right – the platform reported back in April that it now has more than 330 million monthly active users, which puts it just behind Twitter (336m), and ahead of Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

In terms of marketing opportunities, it’s not as easy a platform to utilize for promotional purposes, but the opportunities are there, particularly for those who are experts in their field and are able to tap into relevant conversations and subreddits to help boost awareness and presence.

Chat rooms may actually help with this, and with Reddit profiles providing an opportunity to establish an on-platform presence, the opportunities for brands are growing.

Reddit may take more time investment, but the stats point to growing opportunities in the platform. For those that can get it right.

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