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Editorial

Vero: some things I’ve learned in the last week

Estimated read time: 8 minutes

Before the Beast from the East hit last week and turned our news feeds into a mash-mash of photos and complaints about the snow, I couldn’t move online for mentions of the hot ‘new’ social network, Vero.

The self-styled ‘true social’ network blew up just before the cold weather blew in and made a lot of noise, with its promise of a chronological timeline, no ads and general holier-than-thou (or, at least, holier than Facebook and Instagram) attitude. They also offered free, lifetime access for the first million people to sign up.

Being the diligent social media professional that I am, I duly signed up.

And waited.

And waited.

You see, Vero quickly found out that, when all of the world suddenly wants in, you need better servers. As such, my first few days on the app were pointless; everything crashed, every time.

However, I’ve now had a few crash-free days and have had chance to have a play – here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Chronological timelines FTW

Every time I log into Instagram these days, I still find myself longing for the chronological timeline to return; it’s not a fun experience using a platform where I know I’m missing out on content I want to see and, by being a good citizen and giving out the likes and comments, I’m merely decreasing my own circle of accounts from where the algorithm will serve me posts.

So, being able to open Vero and pick up where I left off last time is just marvellous. I don’t miss anything at all and it is a true USP for Vero in the algorithmically-controlled world of 2018.

Ad-free timelines FTW

Another throwback to when Instagram was better – no ads! Lovely.

Reading lists FTW

It’s a simple pleasure, but I really like that Vero allows you to recommend music, movies and, specifically, books to your followers. I’ve always felt that books are overlooked on the big social networks, so the idea that you might find someone cool to follow and get an insight into what they’re reading is neat.

Of course, it would be even better if they added the ability to share podcasts too.

A place for influence

Talking of podcasts, something that Rob Scotland – our guest on the latest episode of The Native Podcast – told me this week seems relevant to Vero. Rob makes the point that influencers in 2018 are the people with taste. They are curators, rather than simply owners of a large following.

When you look at how Vero has set its stall, you can see the potential for it being a great space for real influencers – you know, people with influence. It’s a space to recommend what’s rocking your world right now. If you consistently prove yourself to have taste with some killer suggestions, it’s not difficult to think that you could build an audience here.

Individuals>brands

While there are a few brands on Vero already, it very much feels like a space for individuals. Right now, I’m struggling to see how, for example, a University might want to jump on the platform – unless it was entirely run by student takeovers…that could be pretty cool.

Points of unease

Of course, one inevitable consequence of having the world watch you is how quickly people will dig things up. Vero’s terms and conditions on how they can use content uploaded to the site have, quite rightly, made plenty of creators decide to stay away. Then there’s Vero’s founder, Ayman Hariri, whose other business interests have raised plenty of concerns, along with reports that people have found it very difficult to delete accounts.

Not good.

We’ve been here before.

Spot the recurring theme below…

2014: Ello

2016: Peach

2017: Mastodon

2018: Vero?

A terrible name

Come on. Even though most social networks these days have a terrible name, Vero is right up there. And its desperate attempts to show itself to be a space of truth are, well, desperate too.

Truth! Ha! They do realise this is the Internet we’re talking about, right?

The numbers don’t add up

Yes, it’s mightily impressive that Vero has leapt from less than 150,000 downloads to around 3 million in a week. But, look at how that compares to the two networks that Vero is clearly swinging for; Facebook has 2.2 billion users, Instagram 800 million. Obviously, numbers aren’t everything, but Vero has some way to go.

And, let’s face it, we know how this will pan out. If Vero does turn out to be any good, it’ll get acquired by someone bigger. If it doesn’t, well, it’s not very good and will be left to rot.

Is it worth paying for?

The elephant in the room when it comes to Vero letting the first million users sign up for free is that, clearly, they plan to charge for their services in the future. I struggle to see how they will convince people to part with their cash; in 2018, you can’t even get people to spend money on things of actual value, like great art or music, so good luck getting them to pay for their social media.

Although, that said, if people do show a willing to pay for Vero, the response from Facebook et al will be fascinating. Could they go down the Spotify premium route and offer a paid-for, ad-free account? Would you pay for social media without the ads?

Overall thoughts – one to watch

Right now, I’m not convinced that Vero is a winner. But, I’m also not convinced that it sucks. The next month will be crucial for shaping its future, so I’m certainly willing to give it a bit longer to find its feet.

What do you think?