Viber is looking to develop bespoke content and offer new features to its local users, hoping to maintain and increase engagement in Egypt and the MENA region during the coming period.
The Voice over IP and instant messaging application has 14 million users in Egypt and more than 100 million users in the MENA region.
Daily News Egypt interviewed chief marketing officer Mark Hardy who discussed the company’s current and future plans for growth, its main partners and supporters, and explained the new chatting services it offers.
How do you see Viber’s opportunities for growth in the MENA region and the Egyptian market?
The Egyptian and MENA markets are vibrant with a large, active and engaged audience on Viber so this is definitely a region where we want to develop bespoke content and offer new features to local users in order to maintain and increase their engagement. There may also be opportunities for monetisation via our current and future services within the Viber app. But, first and foremost, we are focusing on providing compelling local content that will resonate with users across the region.
What is the total number of application users in Egypt and MENA?
In Egypt we have more than 14 million users, and users across the MENA region exceed 100 million.
How many company partners does Viber have locally and in the MENA? What is expected by end of 2016?
More than 50 local partners have opened Public Chats in MENA, including Pan-Arab media outlets such as Filfan.com; Elcinema.com; Jumia Egypt, the number one e-commerce site; Kijamii, the number one digital agency in the region; Fustany.com, an Arabic language online fashion magazine; and Engezni, Egypt’s largest social food network.
The more varied the content we have from local partners, the more appealing Public Chats have become for our users. Since the announcement, we have already received many requests to open Public Chats from MENA brands and our goal is to keep this momentum going so that we see a steady increase in partners by the end of 2016.
Could you explain the new chatting services the company issued?
Viber Public Chats are live conversations that all Viber users can follow. It is a new mobile first social channel enabling users to follow exclusive conversations from their favourite brands and personalities. Viber users can follow as many chats as they would like to follow. They can invite their friends to follow their favourite chats and can share content from the chats with anyone. Chats can include text, photos, audio, video, stickers, web links and more. Influencers, celebrities, brands and organisations in Egypt, MENA and Africa have been invited to join the conversation and open their own Public Chats.
How can this new service help its users?
Public Chats offer a dedicated social content channel where brands and celebrities can build meaningful conversations with their community. Think of it as having your own chat show live on a mobile platform, where the audience is constantly connected. People can tap into the live conversations of celebrities, brands and personalities to enjoy behind the scenes moments and exclusive news. The intimate nature of the chat app format makes the experience much more personal than other social media channels. For brands and organisations, it’s an ideal platform to introduce their team, collaborators, and partners to show the human face of their brand and discuss the topics that matter to their fans.
How many users has the new chat service attracted so far? How is this expected to change by the end of this year?
Since the global launch, we’ve seen more than 1400 celebrities, brands and personalities open their own Public Chats, including the India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, pop star Pixie Lott, model and actress Karolina Kurkova, as well as publishers such as The Huffington Post, Mashable, BuzzFeed and the BBC. Some of these chats now have more than 1 million followers. Many partners have told us that their Viber Public Chat has gathered followers quicker than any of their other social media channels. Our primary goal is to ensure that we have a vast range of content across a wide range of interests, so that we can encourage more of our 664 million users to become followers.