Viber brings Public Chats to South Africa, rest of MEA

Instant messaging and calling app Viber on Tuesday announced the launch of its Public Chats feature across Africa and the Middle East.

Public Chats are live discussions that Viber users can follow, like and share with their community. Released in beta version in November 2014 with select global partners, this feature allows users to tap into live conversations from celebrities, personalities, brands and organisations.

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According to Viber, the feature also allows users to discover new communities, follow interactive chats in real-time and share original pieces of content with friends and contacts.

“The Middle East and Africa are important markets for Viber, and we are pleased to welcome local influencers and brands to our Public Chats platform,” said Mark Hardy, CMO, Viber. “We are sure they will enjoy chatting, commenting and debating live on this active social channel whilst sharing tips, news, and local content to our constantly connected mobile audience across the region.”

Among the celebrities and influencers in South Africa launching Public Chats are Vanessa Haywood, business woman, sports personality and actress; Cindy Pivacic, HIV awareness creator; Carishma Basday, actress, model and yogi; GreenPop, an environmental NGO on a mission to plant trees; Homeology, an interior design webzine; Gareth Pon, internationally recognised image creator; African Hip Hop music blog; celebrity adventure couple Gugu and Letshego Zulu; Soul Singer Ms Kelle; Celebrity talent, brand and media management specialist Sheree O’Brien and Hint Business Community founded by Brandon Tancott and Willem Gous.

A similar strategy is being used across the region, with partners in Africa at Pan-African level and in key markets such as Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Egypt.

One of the biggest stars to come onboard with Public Chats is Senegalese musician Youssou NDour. “The Viber Public Chats channel will enable my fans to follow in real time my music and artistic activities;” he said, “it will also represent an opportunity for me to engage in discussions designed to forge a peaceful and open world.”

Viber users can follow as many Public Chats as they like. Conversations are multi-media and include text, photos, audio, video, stickers, web links and geo-localization. Users can invite friends to follow their favourite Public Chats and share parts of these conversations. The most popular chats are featured on the home screen of Viber’s Public Chats section.

Global brands, celebrities and public figures on Public Chats include online media platforms such as Huffington Post, Mashable, BuzzFeed and the BBC; the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modri; Pop star Pixie Lott and Model and Actress Karolina Kurkova.

Image: Sam Azgor via Flickr.

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