We’re excited to meet Ayman Hariri, Co-founder and CEO of Vero, a fresh social network with a few fantastic surprises. Ayman happily shares his insights about the role social media plays in a contemporary setting and the work behind giving more control to the users.
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Ayman, how would you describe Vero to someone if you could only use one sentence?
It’s an ad-free social network that lets you share photos, music, movies and TV shows, books, and places with a simple Audience Selector that makes it easy to control who sees your posts.
And which element of Vero is closest to your own heart?
My favourite has to be our Audience Selector. It’s really simple to use and very intuitive. It lets you easily choose between your Close Friends, Friends, Acquaintances, and Followers. They don’t know which category you’ve put them in, but it allows you to be selective about who gets to see what. So you can choose to only have your Close Friends see pictures of your kids, while everyone can see a link to an interesting article you’ve found.
Another feature I really enjoy using is Collections, which automatically stores every single post you’ve received from your friends or the people you follow. This makes it easy to browse or search for that restaurant your friend was raving about a month ago without having to scroll through your feed.
I think we’re going to see more companies starting to take a closer look at whether likes and shares are really all they should be valuing.
Did the decision of no ads come easy? When did it happen during the whole process?
From day one, we wanted to give our users the best experience possible. We felt that asking for a small annual fee would both give our users the best experience, as well as having a clear business model that’s easy to understand while creating a sustainable business.
By choosing to be a subscription service, we are able to focus all of our efforts on making the best app we possibly can without compromising by having to come up with ways to get people to use Vero as much as possible.
Unlike other similar services, we don’t consider addiction a measure of success. In our case, our users are our customers, not the advertisers. So our measure of success is our users’ satisfaction using Vero and their willingness to get their friends to join.
Do you feel the pressure from other social media sites? If so, how do you deal with it?
Because people have become so accustomed to using existing social networks, it takes time and patience for people to consider trying something new.
When we tell people that we will always be ad-free and that we will never sell their data, the behaviour of other social networks makes what we have to say seem too good to be true for some, but we mean what we say!
We do however stand firm in our belief that our decision makes Vero a truly social network that brings together people who have similar passions.
The role of social media has grown so much for regular companies in recent years. In your opinion, how will that role change in five or ten years?
We see many companies create strategies for their online social media presence and campaigns. Their only direct measure of success is their audience’s level of engagement.
This doesn’t directly lead to sales, and so I think we’re going to see more companies starting to take a closer look at whether likes and shares are really all they should be valuing.
We knew that once we built a large user base, brands would want to join Vero. And so we created a unique function that allows brands to sell directly to their customers who choose to follow them on Vero. Brands get a unique Buy Now button that allows users to purchase goods directly in the app.
What technological advancements are you personally most looking forward to in terms of social media?
As much as I’m a fan of technology, I’m also a big believer in a more measured approach on how it’s applied.
Something about being social online feels broken these days. We believe there is a need to get back to the basics of social interactions regardless of the medium.
We’ve taken the learnings of the last ten years and put them into a single app that gives you a great experience. Our team considers that technology should be a tool to enhance an experience rather than drive it.