Over the last week there has been a huge trend, majorly in the USA, about what is being called by some as the app that will kill Instagram.
Vero, Latin for Truth, the “true social” network has seen a sudden jump in app downloads and usage in the past week. A lot of its sudden growth comes from huge Instagram communities banding together against Instagram’s newest policies and algorithm changes.
Instagram’s newest algorithm has changed how posts are ordered, now highlighting posts that have more likes, comments or shares instead of in chronological order. This has a lot of Instagram users abandoning ship to Vero.
But, what exactly is Vero and why is it suddenly so popular?
Vero, the true social
Although on the app market since 2015, this social networking app has only seen its popularity rise in the last few days.
Marketing itself as a new and clean way of social networking online, Vero is a mix of some of the most popular social apps on the market; from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter.
The application allows users to share not only the basics (photos, statuses and videos), but also movie and book recommendations. It says it also allows you to share locations and links.
The application also sets itself apart from competing networks by allowing you to choose who sees what you post. This is through a “loop” system, where you can categorize whether a person is a close friend, friend or an acquaintance. (Although Facebook has had this option for many years with its customized audiences.)
Instagramers love that Vero’s timeline will show posts in reverse chronological order, just like how Instagram used to do.
The app states that when it comes to the other social platforms, “…as time passed, an imbalance began to form between the interests of the platforms and the best interests of the users.”
“The feed is composed of your posts and the posts of people you’re either connected with or people you follow,” Vero says. “We don’t curate it, manipulate it, insert advertising in it, or hold back posts. You see what has been shared with you, when it’s been shared with you.”
This is where their business model comes from, which many seem to be currently agreeing with.
Created by former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s son, Ayman Hariri, the app’s model is based on a subscription model, where users will have to pay a fee when using the platform. According to the app’s website, this allows the app to be advertisement-free.
Vero’s sudden jump in popularity mainly comes from an announcement last Wednesday.
The app announced that the first million users on the app will get free subscriptions, for life.
This prompted thousands of people to run to the application which caused the app, still in its Beta stage, to crash and cause numerous problems through the week.
We're experiencing an outage due to heavy load.
Apologies again for the issues we're having.
We're working to restore things.
We really appreciate your patience.
— Vero (@verotruesocial) February 25, 2018
The sudden rise has also been contributed to both Instagram’s newest policies and the Instagram Cosplay community making a strong push towards the new platform. During the creation of this article, there were over 526k hashtags on Instagram for #Vero.
Vero’s more relaxed look on censorship has also encouraged tattoo artists to join in, who previously had issues with censorship after posting certain body parts that they tattooed. Strangely, and maybe alarmingly, communities such as the Knife-loving kind have also made the push to the new app.
At the height of its sudden jump to fame, Vero had to deal with two major setbacks.
As mentioned before, the app has been constantly crashing and many have found that the app’s bugs to be too much to handle. Many have gone on other social networks to complain about the app’s issues.
I felt as a digital marketer I needed to check out what the fuss with Vero is about. It is definitely in beta stage, let's just say … #bugseverywhere
— Jen (@dumblydore) February 27, 2018
First experience with #Vero
1. Registration failed
2. Restarted app
3. Verification failed
4. *Gets phone call with verification code*
5. Verification freezes.
6. Reloads app again
7. Broken feed with server errors
8. No tutorial
9. Adding friends fails
10. *Goes back to twitter*
— Tanner Fugal (@TannerFugal) February 27, 2018
Otherwise, the app is getting a lot of heat for its Terms of Service. Many are afraid that it stipulates that Vero will have the ability to control, copy, take and use any content you put on the platform.
“So, they may not be selling your data or sending you ads, but they may take any of your content?” is how many are currently thinking after reading the ToS.
Vero has already worked on improving its ToS with an update, in which the company states it makes it easier to understand that this is needed for them to host people’s content. Their ToS has also been updated with new text, in bold, explaining this.
Lastly, many are trying to delete the app, but can’t, due to new information that has surfaced about the app’s CEO and Founder Hariri.
News have surfaced that Hariri, after helping run his father’s Saudi Arabian construction firm with his brother, had to shut down the company and lay off over 9,000 migrant workers due to mismanagement issues.
In August 2016, Reuters reported that thousands of laid off workers continued to stay in cockroach-infested homes without months of pay, as well as limited access to food, water and health care.
So, Vero… on top of technical issues, I’m not hearing too many positive things about the founder, or his other business dealings either. Not cool for the platform claiming to be “True and Authentic.” #deletemyaccount
— Cody Seelye (@codyisthinking) February 27, 2018
welp Vero was fun until i realized their CEO stopped paying salaries to 9,000 Filipino workers at his previous construction company rendering them essentially homeless and reliant on food donations. peace ✌🏼
— tyler hansen (@_heyheytyler) February 27, 2018
Many users of Vero have tired to delete their accounts since the news surfaced, but many are getting even more heated due to Vero’s exit strategy. Users must apply to delete their account, and await Vero’s answer by email.
But with no ads, how will it make money?
Although having a billionaire for a CEO may help, a big question many have about Vero is how will it gain revenue.
While the app’s subscription-based business model will help, will it be enough to cover all of the company’s expenses?
It seems that the plan is that while there won’t be blatant ads on the platform, brands can still sell products on the platform. Meaning, marketers can enjoy the application as long as they focus on less brand awareness and more content marketing.
The app will charge brands a “transaction fee” when they sell an item via its “buy now” feature. This allows users to buy products directly from posts, just like what Instagram is doing right now.
Influencers can still happily promote brands through this feature.
Plus, such as with Instagram, time will only tell if they will change their minds and add advertising or marketing elements to the social platform.
Will it actually win over other mega social giants?
Although time will tell, social network giant Facebook usually doesn’t take threats seriously, and after Snapchat’s decline after battling the giant, we’ve already seen the massive effect Facebook has on other platforms.
A high possibility would be Facebook, or Instagram, implementing its own subscription-based model for making its platform ad-free. This would be inline with Facebook’s new changes which are hoped to provide its users with a more personal experience.
An important note is that the app is still in Beta, and it may still be a while before the app can be fully functioning. Other social networks are already fully set up, so it will be only a matter of time before they come up with a counter to the new network.
Another question would be how long can it hold its popularity, which is being boosted by the company’s announcement of 1 million subscription-free accounts. Would the average person, who posts occasionally, really want to pay an annual fee for a social website?