TL;DR: Social media app Vero became the darling of app stores this week with its promise of an ad-free, algorithm-free newsfeed. But just as fast as users signed up, they wanted out of the buggy platform that turned out to be too good to be true, at least for now.
The three-year-old social media app Vero has definitely had its best week on record and in some respects one of its worst. The last week of February, the app, which had quietly sat below the top 20 apps for most of its existence, blew up, surpassing YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in app stores.
But just as quickly as it shot up the charts, Vero’s newest users turned on it in droves. Likely due to both design and bandwidth, the app has been buggy, crashing and not loading information, and customer service is slow.
Vero is latin for “in truth,” which contributes to the company tagline “true social.” It claims to be the new social media platform that lets you be yourself with no ads or algorithms. The newsfeed is the chronological order in which content is posted by the people you follow and when you publish to the app, you can filter which people you want to see it by assigning each follow to a close friend, friend, acquaintance or follower.
It isn’t clear why now was Vero’s (short) time to shine. Variety reported that Vero cofounder, billionaire Ayman Hariri, said the growth has been organic, having become popular with cosplay enthusiasts and later professional photographers.
Some media outlets are attributing it to Instagram influencers’ frustration with the photo-sharing app’s updated algorithm that seems to result to lower reach and engagements on their posts. Slate also wrote that the surge in signups is evidence that backlash toward Facebook and Instagram is deeper than we previously understood.
Despite Vero supposedly being the “anti-Facebook,” this is an app of yesteryear.
Let’s start with algorithms, which dictate the social media marketing game. Influencers and social media professionals feel the effects of tweaked algorithms on all platforms, but in the grand scheme of things, algorithms make sense.
The average social media user doesn’t notice any change of what they are and are not seeing because of algorithms. They’re seeing what they want in the time that they have, and algorithms keep them engaged. Receiving everything at the same time, means sifting or really mindlessly scrolling until the user finds something that they actually want to see and engage with.
Someone has to pay for a company to exist, would you rather it be advertisers or you? The world’s largest social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all were ad-free, and don’t forget, had chronological feeds when they launched too. But they had to make money and the opportunity for advertisers was there. Vero says it will always remain ad-free, so it will eventually move to a paid model for new users. It makes me wonder: With so many social media apps available for free (though with the caveat of ads), will anyone find Vero valuable enough to pay?
So, a chronological newsfeed doesn’t make sense anymore, ad-free doesn’t make sense against the current competition, and Vero’s last highlighted feature to filter who you post to already exists on both Facebook and Google+. I’m not sold that there is any reason to spend time creating a new presence.
I think Vero is a flash in the pan and will likely fall the way of other platforms that tried to break up the big social media networks before it, like Ello and Peach. I will say, however, this quick rise successfully demonstrated to Facebook and Instagram that users would be willing to leave for another platform if they are not heard. Twitter and Snapchat should think carefully about this too.