An Exciting (Re)start

November 20' Update

What’s happened?

On October 11, we held our first live chat on BackReaction. This was the debut of our new, real-time chat room product that I laid out in September. We were nervous, but excited. Here’s how it went down.

What you see in the video above was just the first 30 minutes. It went on for six and a half hours! Over which 848 messages were exchanged. We had 54 people attend in total with 25 people on simultaneously at the beginning. If you don’t believe me, ask Tom!

To say the least, it was a big success. We had asked people to clear their calendars and show up at this particular time. And they did. 54 of them! Whether it was 12PM in Virginia or 6PM in Germany, people showed up. Besides just showing up, they stayed and connected with one another. Here’s how one of the participants Ashley described her experience.

This was our most successful moment yet as a company. It proved what we’ve been striving for all along. People were out there, yearning to talk, and in need of new ways to do it. Ashley and Tom are just two of a dozen people I’ve spoken to over the past month whom have echoed this sentiment.

Since the first chat, we’ve had seven more. All on BackReaction. While none have been quite as large, they have all had good turnouts and total another 614 messages exchanged. This puts our monthly total at 1,463 messages exchanged with 136 total participants.

We have two more chats happening this weekend, if you want to see what they are all about.

What’s next?

Our focus is squarely on getting on more publishers and growing the value of Conversful on the sites that we are already on. Our next partner will be a buzzing watch community based out of Los Angeles, aBlogToWatch, and we hope to have a few more soon after.

For anyone who watched the video of that first chat, you will notice it was quite chaotic. At some moments, there were three simultaneous discussions happening in the same message thread. Many people ended up leaving because they couldn’t keep up. We had anticipated this would be an issue.

To solve for this, we are excited to announce that we’ll be releasing breakout rooms into the product over the coming weeks. Breakout rooms will give the main chat overflow space if it gets too crowded. Early user feedback has been positive. We’re eager to see how communities take to them. Here’s a preview of what breakout rooms will look like.

Beyond monitoring and iterating on the breakout rooms functionality, we are focused on getting more people to try out Conversful. Our participation rate is still greatly below that of onsite commenting, which we think is a good barometer for the type of participation we can expect and need to achieve to monetize the product. To grow participation, we have a handful of upcoming features to better teach people about our product and show them how it works in the right context.

We are still very much in an experimental phase as we are trying to strike the right chat experience and know-how to gain adoption in a new community. Many things about our product will likely be different over the coming months, but this launch has answered many of the things that we been juggling previously.

  • Real-time is what makes our product unique.

  • Group chats are more fun than 1-on-1.

  • Onsite attracts a like-minded community.

Stay tuned to see how these improvements are received on our existing sites and how new sites take to Conversful. As always, you can reply to this email and it will go directly to me (Ben).