Substack’s ode to communities

Substack Chat introduces a new way for content creators to connect with their community of consumers and have social media-like discussions outside of social media.
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Priyanshu Anand
November 7, 2022

No one is oblivious to the recent commotion around social media. Well, there’s always an opportunity that stems from chaos, and how you take that opportunity can potentially be what moves you ahead of the curve.

Substack has taken a seat at the social media roundtable (sort of) with the new chat feature. Substack Chat introduces a new way for content creators to connect with their community of consumers and have social media-like discussions outside of social media.

The chat feature has been launched on the mobile app only for iOS users as of now, but will SOON be made available for Android users as well with a web chat feature also in the pipeline right after.

It’s like an intimate space where creators and their subscribers can have direct conversations just like a social network where you essentially do the same thing. Except, this is more personal and gives people a way to directly connect with creators, away from the noise of social media. What’s more, you can make your own rules; writers can introduce any topic to have any type of discussion, with the ability to turn the feature on and off anytime.

Why they built chat: an all-inclusive community platform

People are always looking for deeper connections, especially with those who resonate with their ideas and perspectives. And technological capabilities these days allow you to expand beyond just one platform if that means getting closer to your community or your people. Substack noticed that as writers and readers rapidly grew on their platform, intricate communities started taking shape where both creators and their audiences could be closer together.

These communities took to other platforms like Discord, Slack, and Telegram where they could thrive more closely.

Substack wanted to enable such communities to get closer together without having to leave the platform. Chat is the birth of this idea, resulting in an easy-to-use feature where creators can host discussions and have elaborate conversations with people who appreciate their work.

What does this mean for communities?

Communities are tight-knit spaces for like-minded folks to express themselves as comfortably as possible. By bridging the gap between creators and their supporters, Substack Chat has in a way created a community platform that checks all the boxes.

A lot of the subscribers are already elated with the chat feature and have kicked off conversations through live chats and discussions.

Joe Posnanski, a sports journalist, took to his blog to announce the new chat feature by saying that “Elon Musk isn't the only guy who can run a Social Media company”.

He kickstarted the chat feature with a live chat during the World Series Game 3 where his subscribers poured in to have a great conversation.

We’re the only ones on there. I’ll send out Tweet-and-Instagram-like things on there — short messages, some photos, jokes, half-baked opinions, interesting facts, trivia questions, whatever — and you can see them, respond to them, throw your own ideas out there, maybe laugh, maybe yell, I mean, it’s all up to you. - Joe Posnanski

As more creators on Substack start using Chat, the more reason there is to stay closer to the community without having to look for integrations or take shelter under other platforms. This is a huge step toward a community-led future where platforms give their users the right tools to stay closer to each other.

How does it work?

For creators

1. Get the Substack app, if you haven’t already.

2. The second icon from the bottom bar is the Chat option. Once you open it, you’ll see an option to “Start a new thread”.

3. A new thread is an opportunity for you to start using the chat feature as your own private social network. This thread can be anything from casual convos to topic discussions - the rules are entirely in your control.

4. Substack automatically sends an email to your subscribers when a new thread is created but it’s recommended to spread the news yourself.  You can also add a ‘Get the app’ or ‘Visit my chat’ button near the top so it’s easier for them to discover your thread.

For subscribers

1. Get the app ☝️

2. Click on the chat bubble icon.

3. And that’s it! You’ll find your favorite creators’ threads where you can hop on and keep the conversation going.

To get a better understanding of how the Substack Chat works, read this article or check out this video 👇

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