How difficult is it for social media newcomers to gain any sort of significant traction these days given the ominous giants already occupying the space such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest? Is there any more room for “the next big thing,” as it may be referred to? Well, there’s a proliferation of a new genre happening right before us and one of these contenders might just have what it takes to “share the cupcake,” so-to-say.
The category is being dubbed in a few ways: Community Polling, Social Decision Making (which apparently has been federally trademarked – don’t ask how), and Collaborative Voting. Whichever you fancy, the idea is that you may ask a group of people to help you make a decision to do something, or to eat something, or to wear something, or to – you can sense the point. People seem to be heavily adopting this type of service.
There are a few notable chariots that have been on the popularity hike very recently with the dream of rising to ubiquitous global fame. They are: Thumb, Seesaw, Polar, Voto and Choozum. We’re calling them the “Big 5” and keeping a watchful eye on their growth in 2013.
Zooming in to some of their present stats, albeit they all seem to be very private with divulging any level of performance at present, with the exception of Thumb, which claims to have several millions of active users, you can start to see some of the trend setters. For instance, taking into account the volume of Facebook Likes, iTunes reviews, or spending any amount of time in each app, and you’ll quickly gain a sense of their quality, entertainment, utility and popularity.
In fact, the VOTO app claims to have a celebrity adoption already. Apparently Mila Kunis, best known for her acting role with co-star Ashton Kutcher on “That ’70s Show,” is a VOTO user. We haven’t been able to confirm the regality or legitimacy of the Mila profile, though taking a peek at Mila’s Instagram feed, TheMilak, we sense a paid endorsement might be in the works. For instance, perusing Mila’s activity feed we found several consecutive, and nearly identical, comments regarding VOTO to the tune of: “Hi fans!! Check out the hottest NEW app VOTO!! It’s my favorite new app and you should download it right now. Comment VOTO if you love it like I do!” And there doesn’t seem to be any personal or candid photos or content in Mila’s reciprocating VOTO account as there is in her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram activity. This triggered further curiosities which lead us to look into VOTO’s Facebook fan base as well as its app reviews.
VOTO’s Facebook fan base grew from 10,000 LIKES to 20,000 LIKES in a matter of 5 days, but which then sharply ceased; an indication that there might also be some “fan buying” in play. A source tells us that social kick-starter services, such as FBViro.com and BuyKlout.com, can acquire substantial Facebook Likes, Twitter Tweets, and even iTunes app reviews in a matter of days for a price. Looking at VOTO’s more than 500 app reviews on iTunes also seems to exemplify a pattern of sorts in what’s referred to as “cattle reviewing”; where hundreds of people are sourced and paid to write a review of a good or service, and which may lead to its high ranking position and stature in digital media stores such as Google Play and Apple iTunes.
We can’t say we blame endorsing celebrities or “purchasing a fan base” to help position a brand and build awareness; that’s been around for over a century. Imagine the traction one might acquire with, say, Justin Bieber as an active member of one’s social media service (as in the case with Twitter where the pop-star mogul is nearly the number one most followed Twitter member in the world.) The issue, though, is where investors might shy away from companies that create a performance facade in effort to stimulate investment appetite for their venture.
Interestingly, though, all five app companies seem to differentiate in some way that gives the other a “one-up” on the competitive edge. Take, for example, Thumb app. Thumb delivers its content in a single photo whereby its user base chooses between a Thumb Up (for good) and Thumb Down (for bad). Then you’ve got Polar that has taken the concept a step further introducing a “this or that” decision paradigm. And VOTO, Choozum and Seesaw have augmented the model to a full conventional capacity whereby its members can create a Yes/No (Seesaw and Choozum) and Multiple Choice survey format (all three aforementioned).
Decisions, decisions, decisions. It’s going to be an interesting year for these companies, and it will be quite delightful to see what each new app, and/or web, update brings its user base. I’m certainly staying tuned and anxious to find out whose face will be next to follow David Karp’s (Tumblr) on the cover of Forbes!
About Kim Tyler
Kimberly R. Tyler has been writing for technology for more than a decade and social media since 2005. Kim is a journalist at Media Hype, LLC in New York, New York, USA.
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