Generation Z is a special group who hasve been active on the Internet for a long time. They are, in nature, the first generation of digital natives. As a result, their needs for social networking have become diversified and complex. Statistics show that the revenue scale of social networking products related to Generation Z in China is currently reaching hundreds of billions. Among these products, personalized social networking products, such as interest-based social networking apps, have sprung up. Soul App is one of the most successful social networking apps that have harvested a large number of users from young generations. Zhang Lu, Soul App CEO, was invited to attend an media interview to share her understanding and insight into the new track of interest-based social networking.
When Zhang Lu started her business, there were already various kinds of social products in the market. But only several of these productsem had precisely captured Generation Z’s heart. After investigationresearch and analysis, Zhang Lu found that young generations were tired of social networking based on pre-existed social circles. They desired a judgement-free and pressure-free space to express themselves freely. So, when developing Soul App, she chose to build an interest-based and avatar-centred social networking platform.
Zhang Lu recalled that a Russian investor who had invested in Snapchat and other famous social softwareproducts gave her a chance to make a 15-minute product demonstration in Beijing. After trying Soul App firsthand, he gave it high praise, describing it as a product that truly understood what young generations want, and chose to invest in.
Currently, Soul App still places a premium on analyzing and understanding Generation Z’s social needs. Zhang Lu introduced that her team often brainstormed in the regular meetings to share their opinions. Usually, product managers would use Soul App for more than an hour daily to keep a young mind and constantly learn new trends among its users. Meanwhile, under the feature team system, employees can upload their new ideas for internal review by the team. As a result, designers, data analysts, and even HR, can sometimes provide fun and meaningful ideas which can contribute to the construction of Soul App.
In terms of product design, Soul App invites all the Soulers (Soul App users) to take a personality quiz to identify and classify their interests during the registration process. Later, Soul App’s strong algorithms will take Souler to different Planets where other users holding common interests gather. For example, a Souler fond of cute pets will be brought to the pet planet. At present, planets of music, painting, ACG, JK, blind box, and Han clothes are all popular among young generations. Based on analyzing user behavior and characteristics in multiple scenarios, Soul App will form a user portrait and recommend every Souler with content they may be interested in.
At the same time, every Souler is invited to craft their own avatars, which provides them with a fire-new virtual identity. Soulers will use the avatar as their passport on the Soul App, which shields them from the pressure of pre-existed social circles and encourages them to explore virtual but authentic interest-based social connections.
These gamified features made Soul App excel in the current market and laid a basis for its commercial growth. At the beginning of 2021, Soul App officially announced it would build a social metaverse for young generations. According to Zhang Lu, the core logic behind Soul App includes virtual online gamified social networking, immersive experience, and traffic inclusion, which coincides with the concept of the metaverse. For a long time, Zhang Lu felt that there was no way to define Soul App with existing social networking forms. When she first heard the term metaverse, she believed she finally found the best way to describe Soul App’s current social networking form and future development goal.
Recently, Citibank forecast that the total number of metaverse users will grow to 5 billion by 2030 and the potential market size of the blooming metaverse economy will range from 8 trillion to 13 trillion dollars. Aiming to capitalize on the social metaverse, market players and start-ups are all eager to enter this new track of social networking. Confronted with the increasingly fierce competition, Zhang Lu holds a positive attitude. She emphasizes that Soul App will continue to make young generations enjoy social networking and acquire high-quality social connections and support from communications.