Netflix Adds Chat to their Mobile App and Sees Engagement Soar

Simultaneously solves discovery challenge

Ok, so Netflix didn't do this yet, but if they did, here is what would happen.

I love Netflix as much as the next guy, but there are two fundamental fails with their product.

Netflix has one of the largest, most vocal and engaged user bases on the planet. Their platform is used daily by millions, but they really have done nothing to empower true community and social interaction.

Think about it. When was the last time you actually made a friend on Netflix? Probably never; and that’s because they don't encourage it — but what if they did.

Wikipedia says a community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. Moreover, when a community facilitates freedom and security for it’s members then it takes a life of it’s own and people feel a sense of belonging. This feeling of kinship leads to social capital — which has real and lasting value for the source and it’s members. In other words, both Netflix and its members would benefit immensely if a truly engaged community erupted.

Similar to popular social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and hundreds of others we all know, Netflix has massive opportunity to not only be the go to place for finding and watching digital entertainment, but more importantly, a place where people come to connect with like-minded people and make friends.

While this is valuable in of itself, Netflix’s second fail is around content discovery. They've gone so far as to offer a million dollar bounty to anyone that can solve the problem.

But the answer is right under their nose. People solve the discovery problem, not technology.

Image for post
Image for post

Yes, sometimes we trust a programmatic recommendation from Netflix; but not nearly as often as they want us to. Contrarily, how often do we take recommendations from friends? We do it a lot, but here’s the rub. Friend-to-friend social networks like Facebook can only go so far when it comes to recommending movies and TV shows.

As I previously defined, community must have common ground to exist. From anime to mystery, actors, indies, documentaries, fan fiction and everything in-between Netflix has a community, and that community exists in interest pockets.

These shared passions among like-minded people have the potential to create friendships — friendships we may never have had a reason to cultivate ever before. But the fact that other people have the very same tastes as I do is the very fabric that Netflix isn't doing anything with. They're a social network and they don't even realize it.

Rather than trying to surface recommendations algorithmically, why not just let me engage in a discussion with people and figure out what I should watch from them.

A little conversation goes a long way and to be sure, a lot of really high quality recommendations will come of it.

So why doesn't Netflix let me connect and chat with others users who share the same interest in movies as I do? I'm not talking about my Facebook friends. I’m talking about random strangers that just happen share the exact same top 10 favorite movies as I do.

Let me chat with those people while I'm exploring what I want to watch. Let me have a discussion with them while we're watching House of Cards together. Man, that would be something.

It would look a little like this; and it’s not that much work for them and mobile is the platform to do it on.

Image for post
Image for post

Mobile is a fascinating thing. It’s much more than just a convenient tether to the web. Mobile has given us the ability to connect and compartmentalize at the same time. I’m basically connected to everyone, everywhere in real-time, but I'm also able to simultaneously explore my micro-niche interests, whether movies, music, games, TV, books, stories, news and everything else under the sun. Like Apple said so eloquently, “there’s an app for that”.

I think it’s affinity that drives us and every app that has any semblance of users has a community. But like Netflix, they're just not yet doing anything about it.

Hey Netflix; add chat to your mobile app and let me make some new friends and discover great content from them.

If you like this essay, please consider recommending it by clicking the little heart at the bottom. And please follow me to get notified when I post something new. To learn more about how AFINITY is helping mobile apps engage and monetize their users, please visit

Written by

Entrepreneur and 5x founder. @velocify @amplifyla @markuphero @audiojoyapps @geekingapp | High school teacher. Content marketer. Startup junkie. Dad.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store