Mobile social networking app for women, Peanut, is expanding into video chat to help better support its users amid the coronavirus outbreak. The company, which began its life with a focus on motherhood, has evolved over the years to reach women looking to discuss a range of topics -- including pregnancy, marriage, parenthood, and even menopause.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Peanut reported a 30% rise in user engagement and 40% growth in content consumption. It also grew its user base from 1 million in December 2019 to 1.6 million as of April 2020. On top of this growth, Peanut closed its $12 million Series A mid-pandemic, a testament to its increasing traction.
The app had originally offered a Tinder-like matching experience to connect its users with new friends -- an idea that came about thanks to founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy's background as the former deputy CEO at dating app Badoo and an inaugural board member at Bumble. Like many dating apps, this feature involved swiping on user profiles to get a "match." Before the pandemic, many women would connect with nearby users on a one-on-one basis in order to make friends or find playdates for their kids, for example.
But following the coronavirus government lockdowns and social distancing recommendations, Peanut users have been clamoring for a way to virtually connect, the company says.
Since the lockdown, requests from users for video chatting capabilities increased by 700%, notes Peanut. Users also posted links to other video broadcasts 400% more than usual. To meet this growing demand, the app is now rolling out video chat so women can connect face-to-face and grow their relationships, even if they're not yet able to spend time in person.
The company believes the new feature will provide a way for women to expand their virtual support network at a time where many are facing isolation and uncertainty about the future, which could otherwise negatively impact their mental health. Through video chat, moms can arrange to have their kids participate in a virtual playdate or they can just chat about life, their daily struggles, and more. Thye can also join a virtual happy hour via their phone -- a popular lockdown activity these days.
To use the new feature, women will first connect with each other on a one-on-one basis, which allows them to message each other directly. From this screen, users could already share text chats, photos, and GIFs. But now, they can tap a new button to initiate a video call instead.
The video chat feature itself is powered by an undisclosed third-party.
Peanut says it's now working on group video chat, another feature users want.
Peanut's video chat features officially roll out on June 18, 2020 for all users.