Today we are launching Chat, a new space for writers and creators to host conversations with their subscribers.
Chat is a community space reimagined specifically for writers and creators— it’s like having your own private social network where you make the rules. Writers set the topic and the tone for every discussion, and can turn the feature on or off at any time.
Writers, podcasters, and video-makers can turn on Chat for their publications from within the iOS app. We are rolling this feature out gradually, with Android and web to follow.
Turning on Chat extends the relationships that writers and creators have already developed with subscribers on Substack. Writers can host Chat conversations for all of their subscribers, or just those who pay.
Why we built Chat
As the quality of writing on Substack has blossomed and comments sections lit up with intelligent discussions, subscriber communities began to take shape. Some enterprising writers have taken matters into their own hands, hacking together integrations with Discord, Slack, and Telegram to cultivate communities of supporters.
For the last few months, our product teams have been working closely with a small group of writers to address this problem. The result is a simple-to-use space where writers can have more frequent conversations with the people who appreciate their work most. Chat also eliminates the need for writers to frankenstein together different software tools and cross-reference subscriber lists. These are just the early days for Chat and all of Substack’s social features. There’s lots more to come!
How to turn on Chat
If you would like to turn Chat on for your publication, here’s how to do so:
Get the Substack app
Announce Chat to your readers—the most important step!
How writers and creators are using Chat
Here are a few examples of how writers, illustrators, journalist, comics creators and more are using Chat:
Sports journalist Joe Posnanski welcomed subscribers to chat by proclaiming, “Hey, it's like JoeBlogs Twitter!” and “Elon Musk isn't the only guy who can run a Social Media company.” To kickoff the space, Joe hosted live chats from Game 3 of the World Series from the field.
Hunter Harris uses her subscriber chat to talk with readers about more niche pop culture topics than would normally go out via email. “I’m always trying to think of ways to reach Hung Up readers with a greater level of specificity without stomping into your inbox to talk about something that’s not of interest to most of us.”
After receiving ongoing calls from subscribers for more community building efforts, comics writers 3 Worlds / 3 Moons use Chat casually as a place to speak with superfans “away from the noise of social media.” They’ve gathered subscribers for viewing parties of iconic movies like Alien, share early glimpses of new work, and hosted AMAs.
This On Substack publication will also be using Chat. Stop by our first thread and say hi:
Thank you to all of the writers who helped us test and build Chat: Bill Bishop, Wendy MacNaughton, Terrell Johnson, Elle Griffin, Haley Nahman, Marc Stein, Leslie Stephens, Bernard Hickey, Tic Toc Trading, Snowball.xyz, Hunter Harris, Darryl Cooper, 3 Worlds / 3 Moons, Jessica Reed Krauss, and The Isolation Journals. We couldn’t have built Chat without you.