Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past couple of weeks, you must have heard about the mass expansion of the social media platform VERO. The name is taken from the Italian word for “truth” and away from the hyperbole, there is a lot worth talking about. It’s USP, no advertising, no algorithms, just a simple timeline that’s easy to use and a newsfeed that’s always reverse chronological, sounds too good to be true?
The first million users won’t have to pay for an account but after that everyone that’s not already a member will need to pay an annual fee to create a profile so if you’re interested in joining, you better jump to it. Last weekend there was a massive surge of users leaving Instagram for VERO and in one day over 500,000 users migrated. So why the buzz? Well, there’s a number of reasons. The first is the beautiful branding. The tendency for social media icons and interfaces to be quite ugly came up at the recent Monocle Media Conference in London, Google being one of the worst culprits of this. The overall design of the App is very sleek, the user interface and general user functionality are very clean, simple and aesthetic. I don’t think these are descriptions anyone has ever used about Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. The ability to easily control the visibility of each action is far better than the convoluted controls on other platforms and the lack of ads is going to be a bonus to many, although I’m not sure how long that’ll last especially when potential investors become involved.
VERO is actively encouraging individuals, companies and charities to open accounts and begin interacting. With the scale of the functionality and the ease of use, I’m not surprised so many people are signing up. This is where LinkedIn has gone so wrong since Microsoft bought them out. Everything looks and feels like it was designed by a backend developer that has absolutely no knowledge of UX. I’d advise people to at least try the interface of VERO for the following functions –
Links – Users can link to their favourite content, including articles, videos, and websites.
Photos and Videos – Users can share photos and videos, and editing tools and filters are also available.
Music – Users can listen to a song preview directly through their friends’ posts. They can also listen to the entire song using Apple Music, without leaving the app.
Movies – Users can share their favourite movies with friends by including trailers within posts.
Books – Users can share the books they’re currently reading as well as their all-time favourite books.
Places – Users can explore destinations around the world through photo posts.
VERO’s almost overnight viral rise in users has created some inevitable teething issues. Their servers were crippled for a few days which made it almost entirely inoperational for a time. This also created issues around registration and many users weren’t able to register. They’ve moved incredibly swiftly and these problems seem to have been resolved and everything appears to be fairly stable. Inevitably though, first impressions matter and this has turned some people permanently off. I have a feeling they’ll be back though. Whilst VERO has something that many of the social media platforms lack which is beauty in it’s branding there has been some controversy about the people behind the platform.
There was a raft of controversial sensationalist headline news reports released about VERO last week. Some things did seem alarming but most others fairly innocuous. One of the ‘controversies’ was that the developers are mostly Russian-born… I’m not really sure why that’s a big issue for certain media outlets. Surely, where you’re developers are born shouldn’t be an issue? But I think this is possibly due to the political landscape using the press for posturing against Russia. The CEO tried to ease concerns over his development team in an interview with TIME, “At the end of the day, where people are from is really not how anybody should judge anyone”. I completely agree with him on this point.
Something potentially serious is the issues around VERO CEO Ayman Hariri’s family connections and previous businesses. The Lebanese billionaire heir and businessman’s father served as prime minister of Lebanon until his assassination in 2005. His brother, Saad, is currently serving as prime minister of Lebanon, so it would be fair to say that his family is politically connected, to say the least. Ayman was previously the CEO of Saudi Oger Ltd, a construction company owned and operated by the Hariri family based out of Saudi Arabia. The company was accused of not paying and mistreating thousands of migrant workers back in 2015.
VERO is still racing ahead and whilst some people are thinking it may just be a fad, the user base is expanding quickly and many people are now racing to become the platform’s first ‘influencers’. So what do you think? Fad or future? Whilst Facebook, Instagram and in particular LinkedIn, face increasing challenges from bots, broken algorithms, clunky design choices and rushed monetisation projects do you think it’s time for a challenger like VERO and regardless of it’s ‘questionable’ past will you be using the platform?