By Rachel Stoll, Director, Strategy
Press has started to pick up on Vero, a new social networking app that’s calling itself a “Facebook Killer.” Whether or not it can even compete is entirely dependent on how the team handles the weeks leading up to SXSW, which has seen a number of apps launched into the spotlight over the years – some more successful (Periscope, now owned by Twitter) than others (RIP Peach).
Vero’s rising popularity has seemingly come out of nowhere, but it has technically been around for a while. Originally launched in 2015, the app wants to focus on meaningful connections between friends and “sharing interesting things.” To do this, Vero shows posts in chronological order without any advertising and integrates into a number of APIs to encourage sharing of entertainment content (books, movies, music).
Initially, Vero was giving just the first one million registered users theability to use the app free for life. However, according to Vero’s website, they’ve surpassed one million users and are extending the free for life offer to all new users until further notice due to service interruptions. The start date and pricing of subscriptions has not yet been disclosed.
Vero is a little unique in that it enables commerce directly within the social network (i.e. pre-order an album) and is a highly focused on media within a semi-walled garden for the content itself. The interface itself looks very different, with a dark color-scheme and users must tag posts to some form of content whether that’s an image they upload or a song they’re listening to. Text-only updates are not allowed.
Friends can connect in the messaging function and privacy settings are easy to understand and control per post. When a connection is added, the user can assign that person to a group without them knowing. Vero does seem to solve for a lot of the pain points consumers have with the existing platforms.
However, the first one million free accounts coupled with rampant news coverage in the last week have caused massive crashing and server issues for the app (which is why they’ve extended the free for life offer). Hopeful and existing users took to Twitter to complain about the issues with the app, and not being able to even log in. These types of issues are major roadblocks for growth, and the Vero team seems to be taking it seriously.
With SXSW looming and potential additional exposure, it’s literally a make-or-break moment for Vero.
It’s expected that some brands or partners may be using Vero to activate at the conference or later this year. Currently, brand activity is limited and commerce opportunities are focused on lifestyle and entertainment (Prince Pre-Order and GQ announcement).
Whether or not this is the app that dethrones Facebook remains to be seen, but it is worth watching with the clear sign that social users are ready for something new.