New social media platforms can be a hard sell. Startups claiming to be the next Facebook, Twitter, Vine, or Snapchat rarely make it past their first year or two, and even those behemoths have their problems.
But investors are still keen to buy in and find the next big thing, with new Australian social media startup clapit last week announcing it had raised $2.57 million in seed funding from local investors pre-launch.
Technically speaking, clapit isn’t quite a social media startup in itself, in that users don’t create content on the platform. Rather, clapit’s cofounders, PJ Bedwell, Mary Jane Bulseco, and Stan Tsvirko, describe the app as a “best content democracy.” It doesn’t compete with any other social network, they explained, but rather it lets its users, the crowd, source the best content from everywhere else via the clap button and then share it with their network.
Working in part like bookmarking apps such as Pocket, for example, clapit allows users to save content from around the internet through a clapit icon on their phone’s share tool. This feed of saved content is then able to be shared with others. Unlike Facebook, where the feed is driven by an algorithm rather than what friends are actually enjoying, clapit aims to help showcase the best. The founders said that the app, which is currently only available on iOS, aims to make social media more human, with more people making noise instead of algorithms.
“We had the idea to make social media more engaging. We were spurred on by our own experiences on social media. The platforms were great, but good content often got lost in the background noise,” Bulesco said.
The clap button allows users to ‘clap’ content from around the web or from their phone, whether it be photos from their photo gallery, or other apps. When ‘clapped’ to their feed, the user’s friends and community can also clap it, with the content with the most claps moving to the top of the feed in a reddit or Product Hunt-style system.
“Users on clapit can see the very best of the web in one place, and be part of the community that chooses what the best content is. Users now have a say in what they see; on clapit, the algorithm is replaced by human applause,” Bulesco said.
“clapit is an evolution beyond the arbitrary ‘like’ function, offering greater social engagement and satisfaction as users content gathers applause from the clapit community. You clap what you love.”
To help foster the sense of a community populated and powered by real users rather than algorithms, clapit has taken Facebook’s new reaction buttons one stop further by allowing users to react to content with a ‘selfmoticon’, that is, a quick selfie of their response to a piece of content.
With so many social media platforms vying for the attention of young users, the clapit team is primarily focused on attracting the most tech-savvy among them, who “will get a kick out of engaging with the best content from everywhere else,” Bulseco said.
“Clapit doesn’t compete with other social networks, in fact the more social networks there are, producing a greater volume of content, the more essential clapit becomes letting users crowdsource the best from everywhere else.”
As well as tapping into the early adopters, clapit needs to tap into potential users who are deeply passionate about their interests and the content they share. As such, the team is looking to engage users passionate about things like pop culture, music, fashion, art, film, design, comedy, and action sports, and is using up-and-coming brand ambassadors like skateboarder Preston Pollard to do so.
Still, getting these users on board – and keeping them – will not be an easy feat, and that’s where the $2.57 million in seed funding will come in handy. Bulseco said this funding will go towards product enhancement and marketing, with further testing to be done in Australia before a push into the US. Monetisation will then come when there is a substantial user base for the startup to sell or sell to, with the usual roads for monetising a social media platform likely to be followed.
Bulseco said, “We are planning to continue our beta testing program and grow usership in Australia followed with a global launch strategy. Our main priority is usership growth within our target market and understanding how our new users behave in-app.”
Image: Stan Tsvirko, Mary Jane Bulseco, and Paul Beadwell. Source: Provided.