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The social media app that’s threatening Instagram’s dominance

6 minute read

Monique Holtman

If you haven’t already heard of Vero, chances are that you will very soon. The social media platform has been dominating the headlines over the past few weeks and although it has actually been around for three years already, up until recently, hardly anyone had heard of it.

However, thanks to mounting frustration over Instagram’s ever-changing and increasingly unfriendly algorithms Vero has gone from what now seems like a mere 150,000 users to an incredible 3,000,000 over the last few weeks.

What exactly is Vero? Should SMEs be using it? And what does it mean for the future of Instagram? Below I reveal all.

What is Vero?

Vero is very similar to Instagram in the sense that it’s predominantly used to post images. It does however have a number of additional features including the ability to share music and movies, follow recommendations, books, and places, and it provides something Instagram users have been longing for: the functionality to post clickable links.

Users can also share posts with different groups of friends and restrict who can see what. Selective sharing is something that is almost certain to win over the younger crowd, and teenagers have already spoken highly of it because it allows them to hide certain posts from their families while still being able to share what they’re up to with friends.

Another aspect of Vero which is very appealing to its users is the fact that it promises to remain ad-free. This means that subscribers will only ever see content generated by the people they follow, rather than by companies who have paid to feature in their timeline.

Why has Vero suddenly become so popular?

While Instagram remains hugely popular, its users are becoming frustrated with a number of different aspects of the platform. The first being the number of ads which are cropping up on newsfeeds.

With Vero vowing to stay ad-free, this is a feature which has not only drawn the crowds in, it also gives the app a USP that other social media sites are unlikely to ever offer. Vero has made it perfectly clear to its users that it’s planning to become a paid app in the future which makes staying ad-free more viable – a concept that free sites such as Instagram would struggle to introduce now.

Another pressing issue for Instagram’s users has been the recent algorithm changes which mean that content will no longer be displayed in chronological order. Instead, the photos you see will come from the accounts you interact with the most. This means that if you want to see a particular user’s content, you need to ensure that you like and comment on their photos.

Essentially, Instagram wants to show you pictures they think you’re more likely to interact with. Unfortunately, however, this means that anyone you follow who doesn’t post very often is unlikely to get a look-in. This is also likely to cause problems for businesses because moving forward, the only people who are going to see their posts are those who interact with them regularly.

Having no doubt already dedicated a lot of time and effort into perfecting their Instagram strategy, it seems like the latest update has frustrated users enough to make them jump ship.

How will Vero impact SMEs?

Having already been hailed the new Instagram, should businesses seriously consider making the move to Vero?

If you’re the owner of an SME or you’re responsible for the marketing activities, you may have been hit hard by the change in Instagram’s algorithms. Not only is it now harder than ever to show up in people’s newsfeeds, the infamous ‘shadowban’ is punishing users who aren’t even deliberately trying to break the rules.

A shadowban is when Instagram temporarily puts a ban on accounts which haven’t been complying with its terms and conditions. Most people don’t even realise they’ve been hit with a shadowban because you can still post photos and comment on and like other people’s content.

Your posts won’t however appear under the hashtags you’re using which can seriously impact the number of people who see your content. If you’ve noticed the number of likes your posts are getting has gone down recently and there is no obvious reason for this, it could be because you’ve been shadowbanned.

What causes a shadowban?

Shadowbans have been put in place to stop users from engaging in spammy, inappropriate or abusive behaviour. Many users have inadvertently found themselves the victim of a ban however so it’s important to be aware what Instagram might penalise you for. You cannot:

  • Use hashtags which are broken or have been banned
  • Use software that violates Instagram’s terms of service (for example, apps that auto-like or auto-comment on posts)
  • Use software that automatically posts to Instagram on your behalf (except for Later which abides to the site’s terms)
  • Have a big surge in activity. There are limits on how many photos you can like, comments you can leave and accounts you can follow or unfollow within a certain timeframe. While everyone’s limits are different, as a general rule, try not to exceed 150 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows per hour
  • If another account can prove to Instagram that you’re violating the terms of service, they can also request for your account to be banned

Should I be using Vero?

Starting afresh on a new social media site requires a lot of hard work. Not only is it a whole other platform you need to generate unique content for, it takes a long time to build up a decent following. With this in mind, below I have highlighted the reasons for and against setting up a Vero account.

Pros

  • Clickable links – one of the biggest issues businesses face with Instagram is the fact that links aren’t clickable. With Vero, regardless of whether you’re promoting a product or posting a blog, users will be able to click on links which take them directly to where you want them to go.
  • You can tailor your posts to different audiences – this feature doesn’t just benefit teenagers getting up to no good, it’s also very useful to business pages. Say for example you sell clothes and you have a pair of men’s jeans you want to promote. You can split your audience into two groups, male and female and then send out your content so that only men see it.
  • The ability to share music, movies, follow recommendations, books, and places is great for promoting an event or something like a new store location.
  • You can sell directly on the app. If you take fashion bloggers for example, when using Instagram, they have to use third-party affiliate programs to monetise their outfit posts. Vero on the other hand actually allows small businesses to sell directly on the platform.
  • It doesn’t use an algorithm to determine the order posts are displayed in. Content is shown chronologically, based on who you follow.

Cons

  • For many SMEs, paid posts are a big part of their social strategy. With Vero, you will not be able to pay to advertise in people’s news feeds or to promote posts.
  • A lot of people are dubious about Vero’s terms of service agreement. It sounds complex but when broken down, it’s actually more or less in line with Facebook and Twitter’s standard terms of service.
  • The prospect of a usage fee has resulted in a large number of people deleting the app just as fast as they downloaded it. Because there won’t be any advertising on the site, Vero plans to eventually depend on paid subscriptions. Companies will also have to pay if they use a ‘buy now’ feature which lets customers purchase products directly from a post.
  • Something that could very well stop Vero getting off the ground is the fact that the firm behind the app has been brought under the microscope after it was revealed that a number of the developers are Russian. Following the reports that claim Facebook helped facilitate the spread of fake news with regards to the most recent presidential election in the US, (which many say was promoted by Russian propaganda organisations), some users are concerned that Vero could be used to manipulate users and steal data. Vero’s CEO, the Lebanese billionaire, Ayman Harini also has a questionable business past which is causing even more people to be cynical of the app.
  • Vero is still very much in its infancy. Many have complained that they can’t even download or sign up to the app and then when they finally can, it doesn’t work. With reviewers complaining of bugs and slowness, Vero only has a 2.2 star rating in the app store. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the hashtag #deletevero has been trending which makes the future of this social media platform look very uncertain.

While Vero very well might be on the verge of being the next big thing in social media, it looks like it still has a long way to go before the more established sites should really start to worry. If it manages to tighten up its design and fix the malfunctions, there’s a strong possibility that it could attract and keep its users.

One thing for certain is that if Vero does manage to get its act together, its audience is ready and waiting. At the moment there are over 550,000 posts on Instagram tagged #vero – the majority of which are posts from users promoting their Vero accounts.

On the other hand, however, if Instagram does feel threatened by Vero, it might change its algorithm back to the way it was and thereby take back its place at the top of the social media kingdom.

After completing her degree in Journalism, Monique began her career at a digital marketing agency. It was here she discovered a passion for online marketing with a particular focus on content creation for the web. Six years ago Monique set up her own copywriting business, Copyworks Group, which specialises in creating content for websites, blogs, newsletters and social media pages.

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