Kik took to its blog today to announce a new feature for its group chat functionality. The company says group chat is the most popular part of its application, with 300,000 new groups created every day. Today’s update will use hashtags to categorize group chats and help users find other people to chat with about topics of common interest.
Kik describes Hashtags as usernames for groups. You search for a group name and Kik will show you a list of public groups that can host up to 50 people per group. The example Kik gives shows a group of friends using Hashtags while on vacation together. Unlike Instagram or Twitter’s implementation of Hashtags, this isn’t a public feed of all the messages and photos posted under that hashtag. Instead, it acts like a chat room where you can chat about a common event or theme. The difference between a regular group and a Hashtag is that you don’t have to create the group and add everyone individually. They can join themselves.
“Let’s say you’re going to an upcoming OK Go concert in New York. You can create a group with #OKGoNY2015 to connect with other fans. #FreshmanAtUCLA can help organize meetups at UCLA during the first few weeks of school. And in #KikXmasParty2014, the Kik team can share photos from our Christmas party,” the company wrote on its blog.
Kik says more than 40 percent of users chat in groups. Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing effort to expand the app beyond its instant messaging roots and make things more social. Last month, the company introduced keywords support for Promoted Chats. Promoted Chats allows users to interact with their favourite brands and receive special offers. Keyword support means more personalized and engaging responses.