Love it or hate it, unless you've lived in the jungle for the last 20 years, it's impossible to deny social media's influence today. There are currently over 4.59 billion social media users worldwide, significantly more than half of the world's population.
While social media has even achieved an impressive penetration of 45% among the 65+-year-old population, it is nearly ubiquitous among younger age groups, used by 84% of 18-29 year-olds. Among teenagers, 35% report being on social media "almost constantly." What's more, the average person uses 6.6 social media platforms.
So, not only is there a massive market of social users to tap into, but it will continue to attract new, potentially lifetime users as new generations grow up. The sheer numbers mean that there is space for startups, even in the highly saturated market today, with incredible growth prospects for the future. There are also signs that traditional social platforms, despite having millions, or even billions, of users, are struggling with their identity and pivoting to the behaviors of new audiences.
Social Media and Startups
With a potential market of that size, startups are finding new, unexplored niches to exploit in the social media space. With that in mind, here are some exciting social media startups that are shaking up the scene:
Founded in 2020, this app helps multiple users make plans together with scheduling and voting-based systems. Users can share ideas like "Go have tapas for dinner" with a group of contacts. The idea with the most votes wins. The app can even suggest things to do. Cobble is still rolling out across the US but has already secured $3 million in funding.
ShareChat is an Indian social media platform that has already secured $1.2 billion in funding. The platform aims to conquer the unique challenges of using social media in a large, populous country with many dialects. It allows users to share their opinions, document their lives, and make new friends in their native language. Other users can sign up and select their native language, and the app will automatically translate all content on the social feed for them.
Fishbowl is a social media platform for professionals to find their peers and exchange advice regarding their professions and careers. It's used by employees at companies like JP Morgan, Mayo Clinic, McKinsey & Company, and more. The platform offers the opportunity to engage with like-minded communities and engage in anonymous conversations that are not meant for self-promotion. This is the key difference between Fishbowl and LinkedIn, as it provides a stage to feel seen and share relatable experiences without disclosing your identity. The company was founded in 2016 and has garnered $7.4 million in funding.
Slay With Positivity
In millennial slang, "Slay" means to "be extremely impressive, stylish, or successful." But now, it's not just a compliment to pay an Instagram model rocking up to Coachella with designer wear. Slay is a platform that aims to spread love and positivity in a fun way through a mobile social media experience.
Slay bills itself as a "positive social media network for teenagers." It originated in Berlin, Germany, and was founded by 23-year-old Fabian Kamberi, Jannis Ringwald, and Stefan Quernhorst. This makes it part of the current crop of German startups aimed at social good.
Kamberi has been a commercial app developer since he was a teen. He claims that the idea came to him after witnessing the negativity on social media his siblings experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Clearly, it found a home. Slay became the top downloaded app on the German iOS store after just four days, surpassing 250,000 users. Unsurprisingly, the company is now aiming to go global.
The idea is simple. When you launch the app, you immediately get 12 randomized questions designed to pay a compliment, or "slays," to someone. For example, "Who can't be stopped on the dance floor?", "Always looks good in photos?" or "deserves its own statue?". You can choose one of four random contacts to pay a compliment to.
When you have completed all 12 questions, you'll be able to see the same compliments people have given you. Slays are always anonymous.
It's a poignant and highly-relevant idea in a time when concerns surrounding cyberbullying have never been higher, particularly on social media. Slay's founders say that it was designed around a few key principles to help reverse the negative effects of social media on teens today, including:
● Content moderation
● Mental and emotional well-being
This simple premise has earned the backing of some big-name investors, like Accel, Ilkka Paananen (CEO, SuperCell), Scott Belsky (founder, Behance), Mario Götze (footballer, Frankfurt) Eintracht and Alexander Pall (The Chainsmokers). The company recently secured €2.5m ($2.63m) in pre-seed funding led by Accel. Obviously, this kind of activity is attracting the attention of VCs, meaning there could be much more funding on Slay's radar.
While this is a very promising start, only time will tell whether the novelty and simplicity of the app will be enough to keep the user base growing and existing users coming back. Seeing how the platform evolves and expands to address these challenges will be interesting.
A Busy but Monetizable Market
As you can see, there are some novel and unique ideas that social media startups are already making a reality. Even if an idea seems too niche to succeed, you'd be surprised at the attention and funding you can garner with a strong marketing and outreach strategy. At a time when consumers want to feel increasingly connected with the brands they use, having a strong mission is not a limiting factor but a key attractor. Players like Slay are finding ways to develop scalable social experience platforms with monetization models that attract investors.
Topic: Social Startups