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Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Can Teach The Social Media

March 19th, 2010 by

I believe you have already heard of Chatroluette, the new video chat platform that has attracted the attention of millions (in February – there were 30 million unique visitors to the site, that’s one million new users each day). The site made quite a buzz on the news media, blogs , and Twitter. Comscore reports one million US visitors in February with a dominance of 18-24 year old males.

The platform looks premature (it might be part of its charm) as it comes with one feature only -the “next” (by clicking next you are skipping from one user to another).  The next feature is vital as it gives the user a sense of control. I would even consider naming the hype around its users – the “next generation”.
What a powerful (yet dangerous) tool that can be for people who seek to experience the control they lack in their personal life. The “Next Effect” is well embedded in the whole Chatroulette random experiment.

What social needs such a platform serves?

Psychologically speaking, these random experiences can teach us on few important needs from social interactions:

1. the crave for peeking,

2. (online) face to face,

3. control (and at the same time – lack of control)

4. The no commitment effect.

Combine the four together and you get to understand the power and the addiction potential of Chatroulette.

We are all well familiar with the above needs:

  • Peeking into strangers’ lives- is what brought popularity to the reality TV shows. We humans receive instant gratification from the arousing feeling that we are allowed inside private personal places.
  • Face to face interactions are certainly not new experiences on the web. But they are getting into extreme when you personally encounter strangers in their natural surroundings.
  • As to control, Chatroulette can well imitate an act of meeting strangers on the street. You can choose between two acts: you can play active or passive. They are both highly addictive. You can actively approach, and they might not get interested in you. You keep on trying… At the same time, you can choose to be the one who turns down interactions. That can be satisfying don’t you think?
  • The no commitment part is achieved by users anonymity. Chatroulette doesn’t require any identification or user subscription. You don’t have to work hard and fake your identity.

Finally –  there is something new in these sets of random acquaintances that leaves you unprepared. This surprise element can never be achieved offline. While Twitter and Facebook let you follow strangers you choose to, Chatroulette adds more dimensions to theses interaction. It is no longer about your friends whereabouts or images, nor on reporting “whats going on now”. Its live and you get a chance to play with an imaginary sense of control. While in real life you hardly talk to strangers, here you get it as a social norm.

The future of random interactions:

I can think of several ways making these interactions more intriguing – mobile interactions on the move (following people wherever they go) would definitely be hot, as well as the option to filter the people you meet by their location, age or gender.
But forget that for now, if succeeded to control immoral and pornographic activity, what a great human experiment that opens!

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15 Responses

  1. Moksh (mOkSh siNhA) Says:

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    The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Teaches Social Media [link to post] | RT @TrendTracker @TrendsSpotting @OnlineByDesign

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  2. MADconsulting (Sally Petersen) Says:

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    RT @TrendTracker The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Teaches Social Media [link to post] RT @TrendsSpotting

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  3. addy_dren (Andreana Drencheva) Says:

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    RT @TrendsSpotting The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Can Teach The Social Media [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. mckenzielawton (McKenzie Lawton) Says:

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    RT @addy_dren: RT @TrendsSpotting The ?Next? Generation: What Chatroulette Can Teach The Social Media [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. IamPramit (Pramit J Nathan) Says:

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    The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Teaches Social Media [link to post] | RT @TrendTracker @TrendsSpotting

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  6. OnlineByDesign (Alan) Says:

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    The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Teaches Social Media [link to post] | RT @TrendTracker @TrendsSpotting @IamPramit

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  7. rososusilo Says:

    it is amazing

  8. Doink @ Designioustimes.com Says:

    It’s pretty cool. Sounds a bit like Omegle.

  9. Andrew Says:

    Thank you very interesting post for à German People.

  10. dunkels (Elza Dunkels) Says:

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    RT @sidneyeve: The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Can Teach Us Abt Social Media Use [link to post] Thx @TrendsSpotting

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  11. davidhylander (David Hylander) Says:

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    Uttrycket “The ‘Next’ Generation” är lite briljant. RT @isobelsverkstad RT @sidneyeve: What Chatroulette Can Teach Us [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  12. sidneyeve (Sidneyeve Matrix) Says:

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    The “Next” Generation: What Chatroulette Can Teach Us Abt Social Media Use [link to post] Thx @TrendsSpotting

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  13. Chatroulette Clone Says:

    The Chatroulette Program allows you to start your own chatroulette website. It is a chatroulette clone, full source code included and supported daily! Chatroulette software with source code (100% open) and editable Flex 3 project. Select your language for more information on chatroulette:

    http://www.chatroulette-program.com/bg (Bulgarian)
    http://www.chatroulette-program.com/cs (Czech)
    http://www.chatroulette-program.com/hr (Croatian)

  14. Selim Says:

    We believe that simplicity and excitement of meeting random people is key of chatroulette success. However there is a problem that chatroulette has too much of wierd things – it stopped being about chat.
    We the above in mind, we built http://fbchatroulette.net – Facebook Chatroulette. Our idea is to integrate Chatroulette with Facebook and game similar to Foursquare. We hope that our approach does not make thing more complicated than they are (which is problem with other chatroulette clones). It is still a roulette – you don’t to which part world are going to visit.
    More on our blog:
    http://fbchatroulette.tumblr.com/post/633513072/why-did-we-build-facebook-social-chatroulette

  15. Matthias Says:

    Thanks guys for this interesting insight – I have not heart about Chatroulette before, but a friend of mine told me that it can be useful for Social Media. We will test it and see how it works in our new campaign.

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