Welcome back to our ‘In-Review’ series, where we choose apps from the app stores to put under the microscope to see how they can be optimised for organic acquisition, drive further engagement and increase retention. Each month we will review a different app, focusing on onboarding, user journey flow, App Store Optimisation, mCRM, UX, UI and much more, all integral elements of our Fit to Market programme.

This month, we will be reviewing Vero – True Social, the disruptive social media app that gained a lot of traction earlier this year for offering a subscription-based social media platform completely free of advertising. We wanted to delve deeper into the app to see what exactly aided them in their growth, the effectiveness of their PR approach and also a review of their branding and onboarding, which could offer useful takeaways for all app owners. We’ve noted what we feel the app does well and where we feel there are further opportunities for Vero – True Social.

About the App:

Vero – True Social is a social media app that claims to offer a more authentic social media experience, making sharing online ‘more like real life.’ The app offers unique functionality, like the ability to segment contacts into ‘close friends’, ‘friends’ or ‘acquaintances,’ and the ability to share photos, links, music, movies, places and books. The biggest selling point of the app is that it is completely free of advertising.

Is all PR, good PR?

Commended

Vero initially saw significant organic growth. Within a week the app soared from being outside the top #1,500 to #1 on the App Store, with close to a million sign-ups. As the hashtag #Vero started to trend on Instagram, Vero went from around 600,000 lifetime downloads, to gaining more than 500,000 new users every day. Vero was initially able to capitalise on dissatisfaction with Instagram’s algorithm and Facebook’s ads and data sharing, to promote itself as an ad-free, secure social media app.

 

However, as the #Vero hashtag started to be replaced by #DELETEVERO, it seemed Vero was destined to go the same way as Peach, Sarahah and countless other social media apps intended to destabilise the market before it. This also poses the question – is any publicity good publicity?

Observation

The answer in this case might be, not always. As the app went viral across multiple social media platforms and, with no official statement from the company itself, conspiracy theories ran amok hurting the app’s integrity and, ultimately, organic acquisition. Speculation online about Vero’s Privacy Policy, as well as confusion surrounding account deletion, led users even in a pre-Cambridge Analytica era to reject the app. Because of the speed it grew it was simply impossible to manage PR.

Recommendation

As users get cannier about their data and online privacy, they are more reluctant to sign-up to apps with opaque T&Cs; with social media apps transparency is more important than ever. While huge apps like Instagram and Facebook can rely on the pull of their existing userbase to convince potential users to forego their privacy, newer, smaller apps do not have this privilege. Following the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as GDPR, this transparency is likely more important than ever.

Effective branding vs. effective user experience

Commended

Vero’s onboarding process is sleek and friction-less, communicating the app’s identity to the new user as well as ensuring they are able to experience the app’s value propositions as soon as possible. On-brand visuals, copy and themes ensure the user journey from the app stores into the app is seamless. Engaging and dynamic benefit overlays also ensure the user is retained and maximises the conversion funnel through the registration process.

Observation

While the focus should be on streamlining the onboarding process, and ensuring users get to experience the app’s value propositions, benefit overlays are also a valuable tool by which to describe these propositions as well. As well as being brand-consistent, copy should be succinct and demonstrative. Reducing the number of screens, as well as reducing the amount of copy, reduces the likelihood of the user churning at this early stage. The opportunity to capitalise on the lack of adverts within the app is lost because of the volume of content in the onboarding.

Recommendation

Vero’s effective branding, coupled with an intuitive approach to their onboarding process, will give users a much better first impression of the app and consequently help with down-the-line retention. In this case, slick branding in isolation is not effective, the entire onboarding process should be working towards a goal; in Vero’s case, getting people interacting with the app and inviting people to join. Best practice for onboarding includes having a maximum of 5 benefit overlays before signing up to keep the user engaged and ultimately using the app as intended.

In conclusion, the Vero – True Social app has some very interesting takeaways. With users becoming more sceptical about the use of their data, being transparent with users is vital. By harnessing in-app elements like their onboarding, Vero – True Social could counteract the sudden turn in sentiment as seen from their PR, which has seen to define the ability to maintain its initial success in this case. We’re interested to see how the app will grow and what markets will embrace this new approach to social.

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