Vero may sound like a trendy way to drink your cold-pressed juice, but in reality, it’s a social app receiving a lot of buzz. Vero officially launched in 2015, but just recently landed atop February’s free app charts with an offer of a free lifetime membership.
Vero aims to empower content creators and let users see what they choose to see, not what advertisers and algorithms want them to see. Above all, Vero promises to be ad, algorithm and data mining free. Vero’s rise is indicative of the "tech-lash" occurring amongst consumers fed up with intrusive advertising and popularity-driven algorithms.
Unlike other social apps, Vero prioritizes meaningful interactions over the sheer volume of likes by letting users define their audience.
Vero’s founder, Rafic Hariri, shared with CNN: “In the real world, we don’t have an audience. The real, greatest social network that exists is the one that exists between people in the real world.”
Vero is a self-proclaimed “relationship first” social network, the word “Vero” translating to truth in Italian. According to their website, they “aim to align physical world relationships to the online experience, providing you a seamless way to share content with your network of friends and deliver a true connection with the people that matter to you.”
Upon signing up, the app sends you an email congratulating you on a lifetime of free membership. In order to connect you with friends, Vero prompts you to link your account to your phone contacts. Based on our initial (non-scientific) testing, few of our contacts have downloaded the app. Despite the hype, the jury is still out on the rate and success of user adoption.
After the free for life promotion ends, the app plans to sell its services for a rumored fee of $10/year. Sounds cheap. But ten dollars could stand between you and a burrito bowl with guacamole. That, coupled with the fact that every other social app is free, makes us skeptical of Vero’s staying power.
How will the app make money? Between the eventual subscription fee and products available on the app like books, movies, music, etc., Vero is banking on profitability through in-app purchases and user signup fees.
When you’re choosing people to connect with, Vero refers to each level of friendship as a loop. Meaning you can elect to share content with your acquaintance, friend or close friend loop. Apparently, a close friend might like to see the chicken and waffle place you recommend, whereas an acquaintance might only want to see your edited vacation photos.
What if an “acquaintance” becomes a “close friend” over happy hour? Vero allows you to change the status of a follower depending on their degree of relevance in your life.
Once you’ve rated the degree of friendship of your followers, it’s time to add a post. The app goes a level deeper than other platforms, by allowing you to qualify the post by telling your friends if you’re posting what you’re currently doing, or providing a recommendation. This slight shift contextualizes the way users share and receive information to a degree that Instagram does not. You can tell all your “loops” what you’re doing, where you are, what you’re listening to, what you’re reading, share links or your current Netflix binge.
According to their website, “Vero allows you to re-share certain types of friends' posts, such as Music, Movies, Books, Links, and Places. Due to privacy, we do not allow re-sharing of others' photos.” Good call Vero. We don’t think we want an acquaintance sharing our photos anyway.
Is Vero, the Instagram-Facebook-Spotify-Yelp-Amazon hybrid, trying to do too much? Vero’s user experience is comparable to opening a novel-like menu at a restaurant and being overwhelmed by all the options. There’s something to be said of specializing in one offering to avoid a digital analysis paralysis. However, Vero does do a nice job of aggregating diverse post types in an aesthetically clean feed.
Even with the complaints about Instagram’s algorithm update, we don’t see a mass migration of Instagram’s 800 million users happening anytime soon. Even though Vero does allow brands to sell products within the app, many brands rely on the ability to reach specific demographics using Facebook’s targeting tools to achieve business goals. With its promise to be ad, algorithm, and data mining free, it’s not clear how (or if) Vero would support targeting.
Brands shouldn’t stop, drop and roll their strategic efforts over to Vero just yet. We should all be watching the app’s performance and user adoption in the next few months to see if it’s worth incorporating into our brands’ strategies. In the meantime, we recommend brands claim any relevant handles.
In the event the platform sees continued success, consider it for influencer programs and for small brands with conservative media budgets who could benefit from the lack of algorithms. Brands should also consider the serious legwork that will be required to build audiences organically without the bolster of paid ads.
Will Vero serve as a respite for users fed up with the popularity-driven Instagram, or is it just the social app of the week? Only time will tell, but you can bet we already downloaded the app in case of an emergency migration. This way we can have our Vero and eat our burrito bowl, too.