Here’s a case study on ShareChat’s voice chatrooms.
Since 2015, ShareChat has led the way for “The Content of Bharat”. But the lockdown in Feb 2020 created a new set of challenges, not just for social media companies but also for society.
Saturation had set in for video engagements, as people could not stare at mobile screens after endless Zoom calls. There was scope for social engagement beyond video, and the ShareChat team zoomed in on the idea of Voice-Based Chat rooms.
This idea resonated so well with its core audience that the Voice Chat Rooms currently have 10 million monthly active users (MAUs)
Cracking the regional content code for the Bharat audience
There are two fundamental assumptions that ShareChat’s success has overturned. The first is that the audience in Tier 2 cities and beyond lack the capacity to send virtual gifts. The second is that they lack the capacity for monetisation.
With 2 billion minutes of audio time being streamed monthly, the scope for monetisation is vast and untapped. Thousands of virtual gifts are being bought and distributed on the platform. Their numbers will grow in the days to come.
The way voice-based chat rooms have evolved is interesting. They have been used to host everything from Navratri Jagratas to Antaksharis and poetry competitions. They are often context-based. For example, in the IPL, cricket chat rooms are formed around fan clubs.
How do ShareChat’s voice chatrooms work?
A host creates a chatroom with a particular talent, expertise, or interest. The host is responsible for the quality of content on the chatroom through moderation and user engagement.
Audio Speakers are the more prominent speakers in the chatroom who request to speak about their talents, interests, expertise, or experiences.
Passive listeners are those who participate just to consume content without substantial engagement.
Challenges in voice chatrooms: How ShareChat innovated and improved the product
One of the most critical tasks is to weed out users who try to spoil the atmosphere of a chat room. ShareChat’s features empower the hosts to take immediate actions and remove offenders.
Sharing the Chatroom link
It was realised soon after launch that the hosts wanted to invite their friends, so a shareable link was added. This way, they could invite their friends and acquaintances via WhatsApp and Facebook.
Chat room locking
Earlier, one could witness chaos if the host was not online and users had unfettered access to the chat room. So, the locking feature was added, whereby access was restricted while the host was away.
Not enough data is available to show how users discover and use chat rooms, so implementing data-driven feeds remains a challenge. ShareChat currently ranks chat rooms according to user engagements, heuristics, and names.
Earlier, there was no way for a user to know when he would be selected to come live on audio. So a push notification feature was added to inform them about the number of users preceding them on the waitlist.
For retaining hosts who build, maintain, and grow highly engaging chat rooms, they must be rewarded adequately.
These rewards are in the form of digital gifts which users send to the host. ShareChat is experiencing a steady growth in this aspect of monetisation.
The game-changing features that are powering ShareChat’s growth.
ShareChat started virtual gifting in Sept 2020 and has seen this vertical experienced steady growth ever since.
Many innovations have been designed to increase voice chat user engagements.
First was the CricChat sessions, where famous cricketers like Sehwag, Ashwin, and Gambhir spoke in the context of the ongoing cricket season.
While ShareChat audience engagement varies from 100 users to 2000-5000 users on average, in the CricChat sessions, it went up to 1 lakh users. The Gambhir session had 3 lakh users, which was unprecedented.
Chatroom battles where cricket club supporters, fan clubs, etc., participate in paid challenges also saw a huge growth in gifting.
During the chatroom battles, users send gifts that determine the winner. So, users try to make their chatroom win by sending more gifts.
Future prospects of voice-based chatrooms
Major social media giants are looking to make the most of this upcoming opportunity. But ShareChat has innate advantages by nurturing its core “Bharat” audience, which relishes regional languages.
It already has a first-mover advantage in this space. As digital gifting catches on in tier 2 cities and beyond, it will be well-placed to lead as it understands the social media users of Bharat.