I have recently been writing more articles related to developing online chat rooms as I noticed I have neglected to really cover this area on the blog. This is quite ironic, as my first community website was a chat site! My articles on chat room development seem to be going down well although I have noticed a few readers commenting that they are surprised chat rooms are still popular, or even still around. Chat rooms are still around, and can still add real value to online communities.
Crunch the chat room numbers
Type the word ‘chat’ into Google and you’ll see 845 million results returned – not the sign of a niche that is going to disappear any time soon.
Google Trends shows a small decline in the ‘chat’ search term as shown above, but this is over a period of around four years. Over such a period of time, the overall decline is minuscule. If we extend the search to ‘chat rooms’ however, the decline is more evident:
Does this mean that chat rooms will soon disappear from the Internet? Not at all.
Chat rooms and Internet technology
Chat rooms used to typify interaction on the Web, particularly for the novice Internet user. The advancement of technology has resulted in websites that offer a wide range of community features that are accessible and relatively easy to use. The large social networks such as Facebook and MySpace couldn’t have existed ten years ago; chat rooms could though, and did.
Websites evolve over time, and the technology that supports them does the same. Online chat rooms used to be extremely rudimentary, with users simply submitting text to an HTML page that would periodically refresh. Now we have feature rich Java applications and some sites are taking a stab at Flash based chat rooms, too. Chat rooms will not disappear from the Internet – they will merely continue to evolve.
Chat rooms get a bad press. Although this is improving as people’s knowledge of the Internet increases, online chat still has an image problem. This is unfortunate as online chat rooms can be hugely rewarding and add massive value to an online community. Chat rooms that are well moderated and populated with mature, friendly members are the sign of a healthy, vibrant community. Inviting chat rooms result in people staying on your website for longer, creating a stronger bond with your brand and your community.
Online chat rooms do still have a place in online communities. They may have dropped off the radar, but they are still around, they are still popular, and they can still earn you great revenues.
Do you think online chat rooms are dead? Do you think they are about to disappear? Have you tried to incorporate chat rooms into your online communities? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.