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TECHNOLOGY

A Social App You’ve Never Heard of Just Broke the Internet

While the social media platform has been around since 2015, it’s popularity surged in the past week as more than a million people subscribed to this once obscure app.

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BY Amanda Pressner Kreuser - 05 Mar 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Snapchat (thanks, Kylie Jenner), but there's a new--or rather resurging--social platform gunning to compete with it (and with Facebook and Instagram while it's at it).

Vero, which is a photo, video, music, and recommendation sharing site similar to Instagram, has racked up more than a million subscribers, and--despite the site being around since 2015--most of those subscribers just joined this past week.

What is it that makes this site so popular? Well, a couple of nostalgia factors for the early days of social media and frustration with Instagram's algorithm have aligned to give this site its recent boost. So much so, in fact, that Vero hasn't been able to handle the site traffic!

One of Vero's top selling points is that they've eschewed the fancy algorithms employed by Facebook and Instagram (and pretty universally hated by users) and is keeping content chronological. Secondly, Vero has deemed itself the "authentic" experience and is (currently) ad-free. Put these two things together, and it means that subscribers decide what is important to them (not algorithms or--for better or worse--brands).

Speaking of brands, there's still room for us on this "authentic" experience--and it's actually pretty great (especially compared to the new Facebook landscape).

Companies can post on Vero with easy-to-use "buy now" buttons for subscribers. Subscribers can decide how much of this they want to see by sorting who they follow into "close friend", "friend", "acquaintance," or "follower" categories.

All of this is well and good, but we're about to find out if consumers value a commercial-free space or just a free space more: Unlike its peers, Vero is not free (or at least it won't be for long).

Though Vero originally offered "free for life" subscriptions to the first million members and expanded that indefinitely based on its recent surge in popularity, it has floated a "small annual fee" plan for the future. This is, presumably, to keep the platform ad-free and not a data mine, but might be a tough pill to swallow in a world where free social networks have thrived.

I'll be watching as this case study unfolds--and I'm sure Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat will be too.

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