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The Rise of Localized Social Apps

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Social networking is evolving with promising new platforms popping up, such as Postcard, and entrepreneurs are noticing. While platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are mainstays in this space, there are lots of others that have failed to maintain their competitive advantage and either have shut down, or are steadily losing users to date.

Meetup falls in the second category: the segment of its user base most quickly declining consists almost entirely of adult millennials seeking instant, not delayed, social connectivity. Overall, the number of users complaining about spam, promotion of events unrelated to people's demonstrated interests, decreasing active events, and no-shows have only increased in the past few years. As a result, the share of events being posted by leading investor, startup, and entertainment organizations on the platform is decreasing quarter-over-quarter--people want to connect in real time, and platforms like Meetup fail to deliver that one crucial functionality.

Due to consumers' incrreasing need to connect and interact in real time, more and more users are turning away from plateauing platforms like Meetup--which introduces an element of uncertainty as some meetups can and do fail--and towards new, faster alternatives where communication is as instant as in-person conversations. This trend is powering a demand vacuum that more than a few upstarts are beginning to fill. It's no secret that Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram dominate this space, but there are many as yet unsung heroes in this space as well.

One such platform is Postcard, a real-time event and social discovery app. Postcard not only represents an evolution of Meetup's platform, allowing users to connect to venues, exclusive offers, events, offers, and discounts --sometimes, ones which they never knew existed. They drive engagement with content linked to events as well, such as photos and their blog, using their changing topographical heatmap to constantly monitor and alert users to events and offers around them as they travel in real-time.

"There are plenty of apps that help you plan your night a few days in advance (like Meetup), but there's nothing that shows what's actually going on around you in real time. Now there's Postcard." says Giancarlo Roma, one of Postcard's founders. "Postcard is a new way to navigate New York City that connects you directly to what's happening at that moment."

Localized social apps aren't just taking cities by storm, but college campuses as well. Friendsy, a new social app designed exclusively for college students, is taking campuses across America by storm. The app is designed to facilitate genuine and meaningful social connections between college students in real time, while eliminating the fear of rejection. Unlike competing apps such as Tinder, Friendsy allows users to make their intentions clear - whether they're looking for friends, dates, or something in between - allowing users to ensure that they and their match are on the same page even before venturing to meet up. After raising a seed round with investors including Slow Ventures and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Friendsy is poised to revolutionize the social experience for college students.

"When I was at Princeton, I wanted to create a better way for students to meet the incredible people around them. Since then, Friendsy has grown from a dorm room dream to a venture backed startup that's made over a million matches so far!" says Friendsy founder and CEO, Vaidhy Murti.

Indeed, localized social apps seem to be everywhere these days. Nextdoor, a "private, localized social network," is creating a what will eventually be a web of hyperlocal, interconnected, but private social grids that anyone, anywhere, can join--depending on their location. Once a part of their area's social grid, users can access local information on everything from local politics to supermarket lists to housing listings and so on. Nextdoor has quietly been increasing its user base and expanding its social grid coverage over multiple states, making it possibly one of the most powerful social apps you've never heard of. They have been covered in CNN, The New York Times, USA Today, ABC 2020, Yahoo, and The Wall Street Journal.

It's easy to simply look at these apps as cute but brief flashes in the pan, but together they bring to bear an important question: given their increasing popularity--in the media, with investors, and with consumers--what exactly do they suggest about the state of the social media market?

SmartInsights shows that even though Facebook outranks its competition by multiple orders of magnitude, apps like Snapchat and Instagram are its two greatest competitors with regard to their penetration of the 18-34 age demographic, with ≈400 and≈300 average monthly minutes per visitor, respectively. Given the baby boomer generation is shrinking and the Millennial population is growing proportionally, this indicates that apps allowing users to communicate with not only each other, but with everyone on any given social media platform in real-time, are going to be pivotal investment opportunities for leading venture capital firms in the next ten years.

Any savvy New Yorker would be well-served checking out these great apps to help them have fun this Fall. Stay tuned for continuing coverage!

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