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Is Peach a Viable Social Network or Passing Fad?
Over the weekend, Twitter saw a lot of peach emojis making the rounds. This wasn’t the Internet trying to be cheeky, but this flurry of fruit-centric conversation was tied to the launch of the newest social media app by the same name: Peach. Created by Vine founder Dom Hofmann, the app’s simple tagline is “A space for friends.” Albeit confusing (and vague) this captures the essence of the app: a social media “network” with a relatively restricted audience. Content created on Peach (text or visual) can only be shared via iMessage, not Facebook or Twitter. And only your friends, and friends of friends can see your broadcasts on the app, lending it an element of privacy that buckets it in the social messaging, rather than social network category. Although social messaging applications like Snapchat are immensely popular, Peach’s viability — and sustainability — in the social media universe is questionable.
There are a few Peach features that, although relatively unique, could only be described as cute (perhaps not surprisingly, the app’s domain name is peach.cool). By typing certain “magic words”, you can take special actions like entering your location (“here”), counting the number of steps you took today (“move”), and open your web browser (“safari”). As someone on our marketing team described it, Peach feels like “Snapchat meets Twitter.” But it lacks the basic usability of both, starting with the inability to verify identity through a Facebook log-in. As a result, fake accounts have proliferated, prompting publishers like the Chicago Tribune to work around that by posting photos of their newsrooms in order to prove their identity.
Why Peach could work
It appeals to the less-is-more social media trend
Apps that use visuals as the primary mode of communication have been winning: we don’t even need to point to the obvious, Instagram and Pinterest. These visual platforms surged quickly in prominence about three years ago, according to Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report.
With its in-app camera functionality, and the ability to send simply an emoji as message, Peach brings visuals to the forefront: something that will no doubt appeal to its millennial user base.
It’s a messaging app
Peach sits at the intersection between social network and messaging app — like Snapchat, it blurs the lines between public and private. It creates a feed of a user’s friends, and you only broadcast updates to the people approved to see them. Most notably, Facebook cashed in on the shift in privacy preferences when it decided to decouple Facebook Messenger from its main app, seeing a surge in users who preferred to communicate with their Facebook friends via private message, within an app designed just for that.
Why Peach might be just a passing fad
It Doesn’t Offer Us Anything Brand New
So Peach has features like “say something nice” to respond to friends’ mentions of you, the ability to Shazam a song from within the app, and count the steps you took today. But you could also do those things from within Facebook/Twitter (liking and commenting), Shazam (identifying songs), and FitBit (counting your steps). Every hit social media app brought something brand new to the game, but Peach feels too much like an agglomeration of those apps’ core features. In order to reach critical mass with its user base, it might have to bust out a feature that’s truly unique. An emoji-only messenger, perhaps?
It has a long way to go to attain platform status
Platform (noun): A platform is a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed.
Most successful social media networks find long-term sustainability in their ability to become platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and the consequent burgeoning of social media have spurred “social businesses” that depend on these networks’ APIs to function. With “buy” buttons, Instagram has become an advertising platform, and Snapchat’s Discover feature gives media and retail companies a place to publish. It’s also quickly becoming the advertising platform to watch in 2016, with plans to roll out Facebook-style targeted advertising announced this week.
As a social network, Peach doesn’t indicate platform viability yet. Social has become a driver of brand growth, as brands move beyond community management and blur the lines between digital advertising, social, and ecommerce. Some of the best digital marketers are leveraging new channels and distinctive creative in new media formats to not just engage customers, but to build a consistent presence. For a social network to be viable, it’s paramount that it can feed into the ecosystem of digital brand executions.
Moreover, if it’s hoping to become a playground for brands, Peach will have to distinguish itself from the established competition: the visual arena is being dominated by brand advertisers on Instagram, Pinterest, and most recently, Snapchat. And if brands can manage and engage with their community of followers through other robust, more “public” networks, as well as through the more private Snapchat, is there room for another entrant to play?
Needless to say, we’ll be watching the online conversation around Peach (and logged in as @percolate) to see what’s in store.