Vowch strips social networking down to likes

There are plenty of social networks that make it easy to share duck-faced selfies and vague updates about your bad day. But no one really cares about that. The only thing your friends want to know is what’s cool.

David Parker, Jeremy Parker, and Jesse Itzler created a new iOS app, Vowch, to strip the normal social streams—namely Facebook and Twitter—of all the banalities and get straight to the point: What do you like?

How it works

Vowch launched earlier this month as a stand-alone social network with one main goal: Sharing your recommendations with the world. The concept was rooted in celebrity influence—the founders knew famous people who wanted to promote their endorsement deals to their fans.

Creating a “vowch” is as simple as grabbing an image.

“We were concerned because that wasn’t authentic,” David Parker said. “We stripped away the e-commerce aspect.”

Now the company is focusing on letting anyone, even the little people, offer personal recommendations in an interactive way. After you download the app—and maybe follow a few influential people Vowch suggests to get you started—you can share something you like by creating a “vowch.” Search for the name of what you like—a band, a movie, a store—pick the category it falls into, and add a photo from your phone or Google image search. That photo will show up in others’ streams to represent your vowch.

You can take the recommendation a step further and attach a YouTube video, a link, a song, or a map. Your friends will see the additional media by swiping right on the image.

“There’s nothing more powerful than a friend telling you, ‘I love this restaurant,’ or, ‘I love this movie,’” Itzler said. “It’s about taking real, honest, authentic recommendations about a product and telling your friends about it. When I’m on Twitter, I don’t care when someone says, ‘Shout-out to this person: It’s his birthday.’ I care about, ‘I read this book and it changed my life.’”

A like is worth 1,000 words

In the immortal words of High Fidelity’s man-child main character, Rob: “What really matters is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films—these things matter.”

Let all your friends know about under-the-radar products you love.

Have truer words ever been spoken? Probably. Regardless, what you like (or pretend to like) says a lot about you. In high school, sporting a band tee you bought at an underground show that only a few other people knew about was the international symbol of awesomeness. You were a cool person. Band tees still abound, but liking a band on Facebook requires a lot less effort with the same result: Looking like a badass.

Vowch has the same effect, with the added bonus of making you feel like you’ve created something: a piece of content that can be shared to your other social networks. The app also has a gamification element—if the things you like attract a lot of interest from other users, you rack up points. You can become a “boss” in categories like music, TV, and movies, and compete against your friends to see who’s the biggest boss.

But you’ll be competing against some of the celebrities Vowch has recruited to boost interest in the app. Rev Run, Chris Daughtry, and DJ Pauly D are all vouching for the stuff they like, and really, who’s going to rank you a boss of fashion over Pauly D? Oh, well, a person can still dream.

How to stand out

It’s difficult for a new social network to differentiate itself from the ever-growing pack, but Vowch has just enough of each established service’s best features that it could draw people in.

The app offers the same black hole of discovery that Pinterest users often fall into, and, like Pinterest, has incredible money-making potential. If people click through and buy the songs or the designer shoes their friends recommend, Vowch could easily take a cut as a referral service. Its design is vaguely reminiscent of Instagram’s, with the ability to comment under each post. Vowches can be separated by category, like Vine’s channels. But Parker said there’s nothing quite like Vowch.

“There’s no platform for things you like: Facebook has it (just as part of) the stream, Twitter isn’t just the stuff you’re into, Pinterest is inspirational things that are appealing,” Parker said.

The company is understandably more focused on getting users to download the app than raking in cash, but there’s a possibility of aggregating deals into the platform down the line, Parker said.

First priority, though, is the Vowch Android app, which is in the works.

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