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App.net: a Member’s Only Social Experience

Written by in Strategy
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App.net, a paid alternative to Twitter, recently met its funding goal of $500,000. The service exists as an exclusive social platform funded by membership fees, not by advertising revenue. To say App.net doesn’t think highly of Facebook and Twitter’s ad platform is a serious understatement. This utopian social network exists to focus on its users, not on advertisers.

  Any digital marketer worth their salt will tell you that social networks are not just ad platforms but rather viable channels of communication. With that in mind, we look at brands that could potentially succeed on App.net and which may not.

Marked for Success:

  Tech Start-Ups

  Web 2.0 is an incestuous industry when it comes to startups. App.net has already garnered much support from silicon valley super heroes like Marco Arment of Instapaper and Peter Rojas of Gizmodo and Engadget. With these big names in their corner, other young up-and-comers will rush to be involved.

  Individual Personalities

  What’s the difference between seeing your favorite band in a stadium versus seeing them play in a basemen? the perceived sense of intimacy. Celebrities can be admired on Facebook, but there is a better chance of direct interactions on Twitter. With a paid subscription service that promises exclusivity, the chances of direct interactions with these mythical figures becomes more likely.

  Digital Marketing Agencies

  Yes, that’s right: Digital Surgeons and all of our imitators! Digital Agencies love to play with new technologies: build them up, break them down, and everywhere in between. App.net is billed to be for the developers. A social network that exists to be customized and manipulated is perfect for agencies that want to create a unique social solution for clients who are sick of the traditional networks.

Marked for Failure

  Large Consumer Brands

  There is a two-pronged attack when it comes to large brands and the App.net platform: large amounts of their audiences aren’t on the platform and the audience on the platform doesn’t want to interact with brands. Those fed up with being inundated with advertising on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter certainly don’t want to pay $50 a year to follow Coca-Cola or Ford.

  Bots, Scammers and Fake Profiles

  Ahh, the underbelly of the social networking world. One of the largest criticisms being launched towards Facebook and Twitter recently are the large amount of fake accounts on both platforms. These accounts exist to spam products or to create a false sense of social influence. On a social network that costs a premium fee, fake influence will be easy to spot and hard to justify economically. A company can’t sell 100 followers for $20 when the creation of those fake accounts will cost $5,000.

  Any Brand Targeting Women (for now)

  The ratio of users on App.net’s alpha platform is somewhat skewed at the moment. This of course is a nice way of saying that it’s a sausage fest. Unlike other social network startup Pinterest, App.net is looking a bit like a digital no girls allowed club. It is hard to see brands that target women thriving on this male dominated platform.

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