Substack announced today it’s bringing its “Chat” feature to the web after launching it on mobile last November. Chat allows writers to communicate directly with their loyal readers right on Substack. When Substack first announced chat, the company was hoping to capitalize on Twitter’s upheaval in the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover.
The company also announced that it’s expanding the controls regarding who can start new conversations in a Substack. Publishers can now choose to give all subscribers, only paid subscribers or only founding members the power to start a chat.
“These new features make it possible for more people to participate in chats, from any device, while giving subscribers a more active role in the community conversations,” the company said in a blog post. “It’s also a boon for those of us who prefer to type on a keyboard instead of a touchscreen. Chat turns a Substack from a broadcast medium into a place to hang out with the people who share your intellectual interests.”
Substack notes that writers who have hosted two or more chats on Substack are earning 19% more annual revenue than those who have not.
With Chat, Substack is not only taking on Twitter, where many back-and-forth threaded discussions between writers and readers already take place, but also other online communities where writers have been building out networks of their own, like Discord, Slack and Telegram.
Today’s announcement comes a few weeks after Substack introduced Private Substacks, which are publications that you can host alone or readers can request to subscribe to read your posts. The launch indicated that the company was somewhat inching further into Twitter’s territory by offering Private Substacks, considering that Twitter has offered the ability to make your account private for many years now, and also offers Twitter Circle, which allows you to tweet to a smaller audience of your choice.