Smartphone homescreen driving the next big wave in social apps

Since the respective launches of Facebook and Twitter in the early 2000s, social media has become an integral part of many consumers’ daily lives. The introduction of the smartphone – especially the iPhone in 2007 – further accelerated social media usage, as mobile apps made it easy to quickly share photos or see what friends and family were up to. TikTok’s massive success is a key example of how important mobile devices have been to the social media ecosystem, but in recent months, there have been a surge of social apps that have taken advantage of a very specific aspect of smartphones: the homescreen.

As outlined by TechCrunch, newer social apps like BeReal, Locket, LiveIn are all leveraging the smartphone’s notification system and direct homescreen access via widgets. These apps also generally offer something that’s appealing to younger users: a simpler platform that focuses on their real-world friends and authenticity. LiveIn specifically notes that it’s entered the social media marketplace “by offering a different approach that enables users to interact with the ones they really care, without being distracted by irrelevant information on a social platform.”

And BeReal’s success is partially attributable to its focus on asking users to post unedited photos. The company raised $30 million last year, and has been soaring in popularity in 2022, with its monthly active users growing 315% through April. Moreover, around 85% of its total downloads (almost 14 million) have taken place this year.

LiveIn, meanwhile, which launched in February 2022, eclipsed 4 million monthly active users in its first two months. BeReal and LiveIn have also both been able to piggyback on the success of TikTok, with LiveIn claiming that videos of teenagers using the app with the hashtags of #liveinapp and #LivePic have generated more than 40 million views on TikTok.

It remains to be seen whether any of these recent social media platforms can overtake the incumbents like Twitter or Facebook, but their success does appear to be driven in part by their virality. Encouraging word of mouth and sharing with friends has always been an invaluable marketing tactic for apps, and this has been especially true for younger people. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, Millennials are particularly likely to share new social networking sites and encourage their friends and family to also sign up.