Being consciously single is not a new term. Over the past few years, especially during the pandemic, it has become a trend to enjoy staying single.
According to a study by Bumble, a dating app where women are dominant, 53% of respondents said that it is “actually OK” to be partnerless. Instead of searching in dating apps aimlessly, people are more inclined to live with elegance and confidence before meeting the right person. Another survey also shows that 83% of women are content to wait until finding their Mr. Right. In other words, people are more cautious about dating and building a relationship.
Despite this, humans’ desire for social connection will never wane for we are social animals, and consequently, this creates a breakthrough point from which social networking apps can adapt to users’ shifting demands.
Dating apps like Tinder are actively incorporating interactive and immersive features to attract users to congregate. Beyond such conventional products, fashionable social apps launched by companies such as Newborn Town and Hyperconnect, offering various audio- and video-based features for online-party and friend-making, have become companions in users’ leisure time. Meanwhile, IMVU and similar social apps, derived from the concept of metaverse, allow users to interact in virtual scenarios with a virtual avatar and to join real parties without leaving home.
It can be said that social apps are evolving from a dating tool for two to a gathering place for all.
1. Tinder starts to “Explore”
In September 2021, Tinder launched “Explore” to diversify social networking experiences. Explore has been providing multiple interactive modes and features at the very beginning, including Hot Takes, Vibes and Swipe Night. Aside from many subsequent innovative explorations, it has recently introduced a Festival Mode. With these new features, Tinder becomes more of an entertaining and companionable app than a simple tool in which users can swipe left or right. Users can also filter out more accurate interest tags by these activities and thus meet like-minded intimates.
A few days ago, Tinder released a user trend report for 2022 on its website, subtitled Dating Games are Dead in 2022 said Young Singles. As stated in the report, Tinder saw a 49% increase in members adding the phrase “situationship” to their bios in 2022. In other words, rather than being a tool for looking for a partner, Tinder offers a variety of social networking activities for young people to identify compatible relationships that can progress naturally without being defined purposively.
Match Group, the parent firm of Tinder, revealed in June 2021 that it had acquired Hyperconnect successfully, a leading social discovery and video technology company from Korea. According to Match Group, they are going to develop their products with Hyperconnect’s expertise in the video industry. It is conceivable that social apps like Tinder will update more video functions to broaden interactive experiences for members.
2. New genes of emerging social apps
Unlike traditional dating apps that cater to new trends by function adjustments, social products emerged recently no longer focus on date matching, but appear in front of global users with genes of partying and companionship.
MICO, a live-streaming video social app, has gained popularity in MENA, Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and North America over the past year or so. This app has a ton of features, including the ability for users to do or watch live streaming, make video calls or text chats with their friends or anybody they are into, and even play mini-games while chatting.
Similar to TikTok, content creators in MICO attract fans with their talent and charm, then, as a result of sharing interests, a social network centred on the creator is established. According to MICO, its users are incredibly loyal, social networks in the app can accompany users for a very long time, and meeting and having fun with friends through MICO has become a daily ritual for many.
Behind MICO is Newborn Town, a global company with audio and video social networking as its core business. Aside from MICO, there is a voice-based social product by Newborn Town called YoHo, as well. YoHo, in contrast to MICO, concentrates on the MENA market and is also experiencing strong growth in Southeast Asia. That is mainly because in these regions where religious norms and culture are more conservative, voice socialization is more user-adaptable than video socialization that necessitates revealing one’s face.
There are many voice rooms with different themes in YoHo, so users can chat with strangers in whichever room they like or set up a room with their friends. These voice rooms, accommodating as many as hundreds of speakers or as few as two or three, have developed into hubs for users to socialize, make friends and share information.
3. A virtual social paradise in metaverse
Over the past year or so, the metaverse concept has taken over the world. Even Facebook, a well-known social media company, has become Meta. Socialization is an indispensable element of metaverse. Then, as metaverse is getting well-known, an increasing number of social apps with metaverse are showing up in app stores, making socialization more imaginative.
In a social app called IMVU, more than one million people visit it and spend an average of 55 minutes per day. These users customize their avatars, share experiences, shop, hang out at cool parties, and even earn real money creating virtual products on IMVU. Currently, IMVU provides more than 60 million virtual props, from clothing to different accessories, with which users can personalize their virtual avatar to fully express their individual style. In addition, users can also tailor their chat rooms, host, or join parties in various virtual scenarios, and interact with others with exclusive dynamic.
IMVU stated in late 2022 that it would unveil Limited Edition NFTs. NFTs will more incentivize creators of virtual goods and complete IMVU’s metaverse. After looking into IMVU and other equivalent products, we may already get a glimpse of the future of social networking and even the ultimate form of the internet. These apps are no longer just a place for users seeking a romantic relationship, instead, they have evolved into a platform for one to infinitely connect with others without space-time constrains, and to engage in actual social interactions in a virtual world.
Socialization, as a rigid demand of humans, has never changed, but social scenes and forms are continually evolving to meet users’ requirements. Today, online dating services, which have been available for almost 30 years, are being different as a result of the fact that young people are no longer addicted to fast-food dating and relationships.
Nowadays, these services place a greater emphasis on giving users the chance to showcase their special traits and meet close friends, realizing immersive online social experiences, forming permanent spiritual companionship, and building a kind of paradise for various virtual parties.
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