What is Vero?

If you’ve been online at all in the past 48 hours then you are probably wondering ‘what is Vero?’

Simply put, Vero is a social media platform very similar to Instagram, where users can upload images as well as text and link-based content to share with their audiences. Despite it’s overnight boost in popularity, the platform has actually been around since 2015.

Why has Vero suddenly become so popular?

It is hard to say for certain – there has been no big marketing campaign or event that caused the sudden uptake of this new platform – but an article by Forbes has traced the uptake in the app back to the Cosplay community. Fed up with some of the recent algorithm updates in Instagram, they have flocked to Vero and have been promoting this new platform to their very large audiences, asking them to also join Vero.

Another cause for Vero’s quick uptake is due to the fact that the app and an account on Vero are free – for the first one million users. After one million users, the app will start charging a small yearly subscription fee. Due to the limited availability of lifetime-free accounts, people are diving in head-first for fear that if they don’t they’ll end up regretting it later.

What is the difference between Vero and Instagram?

The main difference between Vero and Instagram is the business model – while Facebook and Instagram use advertising as their main source of income, Vero claims that will be advertising-free forever. They will instead use a subscription business model where users pay for the ability to use their platform, as well as a few other income streams such as selling random products on their website… like this Prince coffee table book.

In terms of features, Vero offers the ability to post text content without supporting images as well as external links, both of which are not available on Instagram. The big difference however, and the cause of the platform’s popularity among content-creators, is that it does not use an algorithm to display content. Instead, content is shown chronologically, with the freshest, newest content appearing in your feed first.

When Instagram first launched, the content in your feed would also display chronologically. But then they went an introduced the algorithm, which greatly favours engagement. What this has meant is that content that gets more likes and comments will generally perform better in Instagram than content that does not. When the algorithm launched about 6 months ago, it got a lot of backlash from content creators who saw their reach drastically reduce, and that backlash has continued to the point where the content creators are now actively looking for new platforms to replace Instagram – and they have fallen upon Vero, whose features are the most similar to Instagram but without the pesky algorithm.

Will Vero Last?

Well that is a mighty fine question. I read a few articles from industry thought leaders like Forbes and Mashable as part of my research for this article, and there definitely is lot of doubt floating around.

The main doubts or arguments being made against Vero are as follows:

1. A subscription business model cannot compete with Facebook and Instagram’s advertising business model. While consumers don’t like adverts, their love of free shit reigns supreme so they will always choose free over ad-free.

2. The only reason that people have been flocking to Vero is out of fear of being left behind; they are registering for their free account now but they’ll be waiting to see if the platform actually takes off before they really start using it.

3. This is an unpopular opinion at the moment – but the Instagram algorithm makes the user experience better. Yes, the content creators are pissed that they are getting less reach and less views, but the algorithm is designed to favour quality over quantity. You can read more about my unpopular opinion regarding the Instagram Algorithm here.

What do you think about Vero?

I generally tend to agree with these doubts – I think that the notion of having a social media platform that is advert free, and is predominantly filled with content created by your friends and followers is romantic but unrealistic. The staggering costs that are associated with maintaining such a huge community – the security of your private data and payment info, the on-going server and hosting costs, and the continuous development costs – make a subscription-fee model not viable.

At the least, I’d expect them to switch to a ‘freemium’ model similar to LinkedIn or Spotify, where the free version has adverts and the paid version does not. But even then I am skeptical – they do not have any major point-of-difference in their publishing features and they will always be one step behind the more established platforms. Unless they can come up with a feature that is completely new and that no one else is offering, I am doubtful they will take off and become a mainstream social media platform.

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