This used to happen every other week a few years back. If it wasn’t Peach it was Ello. If it wasn’t Ello it was Yo. If it wasn’t Yo it was yet another attempt by Google to make Google+ happen.
And every time, up would pop an industry think piece – ‘What does <insert doomed social network> mean for PR/marketing?’. Very often the answer to that question was ‘bugger all’. I’ve had yawns last longer than some of these networks – and for good and obvious reasons. They served no function beyond what the existing and dominant platforms already afforded us.
I’m intrigued by Vero’s business model though – and having been asked a few times about it since tweeting to say I’d joined it, I thought I’d answer a few questions based on my thoughts and experience so far.
A quick 5 questions and answers post about Vero…
Just signed up to @verotruesocial, because… I’m a caricature of a PR person and I jump at stuff like this.
It’s borked right now – nothing’s working for me – but will have a proper look as and when. Connectfollowfriend me if yours works (and you’re not a murderer). Saaafe. pic.twitter.com/lDuLwvmOp7
— Rich Leigh (@RichLeighPR) February 26, 2018
(Compliments for my Christmassy elf get-up to the usual address, please).
1. When did Vero launch?
In 2013*, according to this press release from July 2015. Apparently, ‘vero’ means truth in Esperanto.
2. If it was launched in 2013 – to little fanfare I could see, why is it rearing its head (again) now?
If I get bored enough, I’ll see if I can spot spikes in mentions on searchable social networks and see who and what it’s attributable to. The Next Web’s Matt Navarra tweeted to say he suspected paid influencer marketing, but who knows just yet?
3. What’s the point?
At the time, Lebanese billionaire Ayman Hariri, movie financier Motaz Nabulsi and venture capitalist Scott Birnbaum (all mentioned in this Fast Company primer) said they aimed ‘to radically change the way consumers think and interact on social media’. They all say that though, of course. They would do this by ‘replicating real world relationships in an online setting’.
4. Got it. Actually – I don’t get it. What makes it different to what else is out there?
- Posts appear in chronological order – as they used to on Facebook and Instagram
- You get to categorise “connections” by assigning people as a ‘close friend’, ‘friend’ or ‘acquaintance’. You can also just follow people. I’m not sure just how much of a difference this makes on your feed yet, as mine’s still fairly bare, but it looks like everything shared with you gets categorised into ‘Collections’, and this is how you see content away from your main feed
- And finally, Vero is subscription based, and only free for the first million people to sign up. This scarcity tactic, intended to spur a burst of sign-ups, is perhaps the most interesting of the differences and one I’ll get into, as I think Vero could be…
5. The first anti-advertising social network we’ve seen
In Vero’s manifesto, the founders talk about an imbalance between the interests of current platforms and the interests of users. It says that by operating with a subscription model – no details on pricing yet – it makes its users ‘customers, not advertisers’ – admirable, and a marked move away from the Zuckerbergian principle of monetising every last one of us to within an inch of our lives under the pretense of ‘connecting the world’.
Our subscription model will allow us to keep Vero advertising-free, and to focus solely on delivering the best social experience instead of trying to find new ways to monetize our users’ behavior or tricking them back into the app with notifications.
Notice I said the ‘first anti-advertising social network’ – I’m not sure how marketers will use it just yet, all I know is that, if there’s a large group of people in any space, it tends to follow that marketers will find a way to grab attention.
If Vero sticks around beyond this spike, I think that PR people in particular will find a way to ruin everybody’s fun/reach our target audience – incentivising users to add everybody from celebrities and CEOs as ‘close friends’, that sort of thing.
Worth another post at a later stage, possibly. Or not. Don’t blame me for the ceaseless march of capitalism, people.
There’s much that’s the same as other social networks, of course. Hashtags are there, because of course they are.
Direct messaging is present. Featured users are knocking around. A decent-enough search function is available (now that the app is playing nicely, after a server-bending influx over the last couple of days).
I’ll keep playing until I get bored, but for now, well worth keeping an eye on.