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They’ll take their conversation online. Image credit: ferli / 123RF

More Indonesians are meeting and talking in online communities via their mobile devices. The mobile movement in Indonesia shouldn’t be ignored: the Southeast Asian country is one of the world’s largest internet markets, with 261 million people across more than 17,000 islands. The number of Indonesians going online is rising and expected to hit 133 million by 2021.

While users still flock to forums like Kaskus, chat groups focused on various hobbies and interests have been springing up on messaging apps such as Line to accommodate the needs of users for real-time, mobile-based communication.

Line Square is Line’s newly released feature. While Line messenger is a closed communication service, Line Square aims to help people socialize beyond their circle of friends.

Each interest-based chat room has a capacity to hold up to 5,000 people. Membership in Line Square community groups is unlimited, and no personally identifiable information is shared.

These chat rooms offer post archiving – for members who don’t wish to chat, but would rather read and save messages they’re interested in.

According to Line’s data, about 15 million messages are sent daily on Line Square, and a lot of the users are young Indonesians. So it’s no surprise that Line Square has been picking up among millennials, too.

“Since our service is used by a lot of millennials, it will be a good platform for marketers to observe the market trend, such as what young people are interested in and what they talk about with peers,” says Yang Seok-ho, product manager of Line Square.

How do Line Square administrators handle an online chat group that has tens of thousands of young users across Indonesia? Take a look at these three communities on Line Square:

1. Q&A Group infiltrated Line, a popular chat service for students, to help them study

The prospect of 25,000 junior and high school students gathered in one place sounds like a nightmare, but they’re all discussing homework on a Line Square group called Q&A Group.

Jehian Panangian Sijabat, the group’s founder, explains that Indonesian students already use Line to chat so it made sense to meet them there. “If students want to study, they must switch apps and that takes effort.”

“That’s why we infiltrated Line so students can have fun but learn too,” he adds.

The 100 admins who monitor the discussion are all active teachers from various high schools and universities in Indonesia.

“Sometimes, students forget that it’s a chat room for discussing homework and switch the discussion to movies, computer games, and hardware or gadget specs,” observes Sijabat.

But when the students are on topic, they talk about challenges related to the eight academic subjects taught in Indonesia.

When students get stumped by homework, they can go online to talk to a teacher. Image credit: Tech in Asia

Online chat rooms can offer more value-add compared to forums. On top of text and image-based discussions, Line features like video tutorials, articles, one-on-one chats, and even premium groups for real-time questions and answers are heavily used by the Q&A Group.

The Q&A Group has helped nearly half a million students, shares Sijabat. “Students usually send us photos of problems. We don’t provide answers directly, but we show them a methodology. Using the chat room, we discuss the steps of solving the questions that the students don’t understand.”

Sijabat himself is a member of the Aviation Line Square group. An aerospace engineer student, he says the group helps him get advice from pilots and aviation engineers.

Line Square is becoming more widely known, but its popularity is not without costs. Sijabat hopes to see more moderators stepping up to deal with the volume of messages. “If members post something every five minutes, it means every admin needs to be online 24/7.”

Based on feedback from users and admins, Line Square recently introduced new features to help admins manage and grow online communities. It now includes support for chat room announcements, admin badges, and other admin-level controls.

2. Doodle Art helps artists show off their work and gather feedback

“A lot of people have beautiful artworks, but they don’t have the place to show them,” points out Azalia Paramataty, founder of of visual arts community Doodle Art Indonesia.

“Doodle Art is a huge place for people to exhibit their artwork, gather together, and learn a lot of new things about visual art. It’s not only about doodle art, but any other kind of visual art,” says Paramataty.

Doodle Art started out on Instagram in February 2015 but has since switched to Line. But now, communication is done via Line instead.

According to Paramataty, Line Square helps them find new members and communicate across regions. People have also been able to find new clients or commission artists for works via the chat room.

Doodle Art now has over 16,000 members on Line Square from more than 50 regions in Indonesia.

Monochrome art is most popular. Paramataty says the admins are encouraging members to post more colored art. Image credit: Pixabay

Paramataty and a friend serve as the group’s admins, but he says moderating Doodle Art isn’t difficult. “We have some rules. People are allowed to share their own artworks but not other people’s artworks without their permission.”

No spam or advertising is allowed in the main chat room. A separate chat is used to promote the artists’ social media presence or activities.

“We have annual meet-ups. I meet a lot of new people and [we] draw together,” says Paramataty. On top of that, there are online and offline contests, exhibitions, giveaways, and workshops. The event information is disseminated via Line Square.

Scenes from Indonesia. Image credit: Pixabay

3. Geonusantara’s moderators work in shifts

Nusantara is an old Javanese term that means “archipelago”. Geonusantara, which translates to “geography” and “Indonesia,” was established on September 1, 2015, focusing on photography.

“It’s a community for people who like to take photographs of moments happening in many parts of Indonesia,” explains Robertus Agung, administrator of Geonusantara Square. The most popular chat room is dedicated to landscape photography.

Line Square helps group members review each other’s photos. Photographers can also synchronize uploads on Instagram or organize events such as photo-hunting sessions in various regions.

In addition, they can coordinate photography sessions with other interest groups on Line, such as dancers.

With so many members sharing images, inappropriate content is a concern. “In each genre and room, we have 10 admins. Admins work in shifts to manage the community,” notes Agung.

Typically, admins are online till 11:00 pm.

It’s tough work, but Agung says they like the community and benefit from it in a way. “We want to manage the community as we want to contribute something back and make it a comfortable place [for] sharing,” he says.

Most Indonesians can be found across various messaging apps like Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. But Agung bases his communication with fellow enthusiasts on Line Square.

“Most of my friends like to use the stickers,” he shares.

Not surprising for a group of visual photography enthusiasts.

Here’s how to access Line Square. Image credit: Line

If you are in Indonesia or Korea, you can use Line Square in your Line app. Go into the app, click “LINE SQUARE” under your friends list or through the Timeline Tab. View the full list of Line Square interest groups in your Line app to join a community today. Update Line (version 7.17.0 or above) to experience the latest features.

This post Massive online community chat groups are taking off in Indonesia appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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