Home Tech The original “tree-hole social” has been defeated and fought repeatedly, but why...

The original “tree-hole social” has been defeated and fought repeatedly, but why is it difficult to gain a foothold with strong demand?


Text/Eastern Yiluo

Why is it so difficult to socialize anonymously for a long time? In April last year, a website called “The Website Will Self-Destruct” appeared on the Internet when the epidemic was severe. In this website, anyone can leave a message, and others may see it by clicking the “read” button. Its uniqueness is that if no new message is received within 24 hours, the website will be destroyed automatically.

But so far, this website still exists. During the most severe period of the epidemic, many parts of the world experienced complete lockdowns, and the public suffered panic, loneliness and depression. The Website Will Self-Destruct became a good “tree hole” to help users alleviate various negative emotions. Even though the epidemic has been under obvious control, users’ enthusiasm for the website has not diminished, otherwise this unique “self-destructing website” will not survive to this day.

In fact, this kind of anonymous social mode in the Internet has always been very popular. Many anonymous social applications have emerged around the world, and some have even become “phenomenal” products. However, no matter how beautiful the beginning is, they almost all go to a depressed ending and leave the scene sadly. Obviously users have such a strong demand for anonymous social networking, but these products are always as difficult to last as the dew. So what kind of problem has caused the supposedly hot anonymous social networking to be in such an “embarrassed” state?

1. Widely popular all over the world, anonymous social networking on the Internet satisfies human needs

In fact, anonymous social software has appeared a few years ago.

Telegram, an instant messaging software founded by brothers Nikolai Durov and Pavel Durov from Russia in 2013, focuses on the “anonymous social” model (Pavel Durov is also a well-known Russian social networking site vkontakte Founder).

Users can exchange encrypted and self-destructing messages with each other in Telegram, and send files of types such as photos and movies. The client has a PC version, a mobile version, and other types to choose from. In March 2018, Telegram officially stated that its monthly active users had reached 200 million. The Paper reported that Telegram had added tens of millions of users this year. It is estimated that by the end of 2022, Telegram’s monthly active users will increase from the current approximately 550 million. To 1 billion people.

And another anonymous social application Secret became popular in 2014. The app allows users to spread gossip, write their own complaints, and post messages anonymously. After 3 rounds of financing, Secret raised about 35 million U.S. dollars. Investors include Index Ventures, Red Dot Ventures and other well-known investment institutions. Secret’s valuation at that time reached about 100 million U.S. dollars.

These anonymous social applications are relatively well-known abroad. Judging from their financing status and user volume, people do have a strong demand for anonymous social networking. In China’s Internet market, the most famous national-level anonymous social application is undoubtedly the “drifting bottle.” The drift bottle first appeared in the QQ mailbox. At that time, the function of the drift bottle was very simple. Write a paragraph and send it to strangers anonymously, and the person who found it will respond. It is the same as the drifting bottle we play on the beach, and the drifting bottle thrown into the sea may not have an echo, but the QQ drifting bottle will definitely get a reply. At first, Drifting Bottle seemed to be just an additional function of QQ, but it was this feature that made the QQ mailbox at that time surpassed the No. 1 list in the market: In 2010, Drifting Bottle exceeded 1 million users in only 3 days after it went online, half a year later. Reaching 10 million, Drifting Bottle has enabled QQ mailboxes to exceed 100 million active users, surpassing NetEase mailboxes to reach the top in one fell swoop. This kind of success was unexpected by Zhang Xiaolong, the founder of Drifting Bottle. He said, “Drifting Bottle made me realize the greatness of the group. Its behavior pattern is beyond our expectations, and we cannot fully understand it. If we have to Analyzing, talking and expecting a response (making friends) are still the first.” The loneliness of the individual soul and the curiosity of the unknown world are always the deepest existence in human nature. The Drifting Bottle is an anonymous social mode with a tree hole nature, which can meet the needs of users in the depths of human nature. Then Drifting Bottle entered WeChat and continued to play its role. In order to make social interaction more interesting, Zhang Xiaolong also added social methods for strangers such as Shake, nearby people, etc. to WeChat. These features have all contributed to a sharp increase in the number of WeChat users without exception. WeChat can become the appearance of today’s national-level social applications, which is naturally the result of the continuous exploration of multiple functions, technology and operation teams. But it is the “anonymous social” element that makes the user volume soar. Although such phenomenon-level anonymous social products have not appeared in China’s Internet market since the Drifting Bottle, other niche anonymous social products have quietly emerged, such as Soul, One Can, and Tape. Although not so well-known, they also rely on anonymous social networking and some highly personalized features to harvest a group of users. However, the contradiction here is that people have a strong demand for anonymous social networking, but it has always been very difficult for anonymous social applications to survive in the market for a long time. So what is wrong with the anonymous social application that caused it to get stuck in such an awkward position?

2. There is demand but there is no market, what problems does anonymous social encounters?

In the Chinese and foreign Internet markets, it seems that anonymous social applications have never been able to survive for long. Even if they still exist, they will inevitably be more bumpy than other types of social applications. In 2015, Secret, which had 15 million users and was valued at $100 million in one year after its launch, closed. Secret founder David Beato said frankly in his blog: This is a deliberate decision, because Secret” It deviates from my original intention when I started my business.” The reason why David said this is mainly because in the actual application of Secret, due to the anonymity mechanism, many online violence appeared in this application. There is a view that Secret has inspired the ugly side of human nature to achieve success in the business model, so Secret’s defeat will be sooner or later. Coincidentally, another well-known anonymous social software Telegram is also facing a crisis of how to explore a self-sufficient model. In order to increase revenue, advertising is temporarily adopted. Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, said that this project needs at least hundreds of millions of dollars a year to sustain, and it also needs to remain independent and loyal to its values. In China’s Internet market, the drift bottle has already been offline. Because this kind of anonymous social gameplay is extremely easy to use, it becomes a gathering place for pornographic information and spam advertisements. Under this trend, the drifting bottle was finally absent from the original intention, and was discarded by users and the market outside the stage of the Internet. Similar to the fate of these “predecessors”, the life of anonymous social applications after this will not be long. For example, the anonymous social product “Yi Can” launched in 2018 announced the dissolution of the team in 2019. The platform aims to “alleviate human loneliness.” Its product manager said that he is a senior social phobia, and he is also a person with a strong sense of loneliness and expressiveness. Therefore, he hopes to design it to help people say “Nowhere.” “Tell, but don’t want to hide the worries” product. In fact, one can does a pretty good job. The number of monthly active users is still around 380,000 before it plans to disband. From the evaluation point of view, the user experience is also very good. The platform is divided into emotions, interactions, hobbies, and life. There are several small sub-categories under each section. One pot attaches great importance to user experience and has been based on user experience. Feedback for optimization. However, such a platform with industry ideals and good operating conditions failed to persist in the end. Because in an anonymous state, a lot of negative energy attacks and vulgar information have gradually appeared, and the age of users is naturally unsustainable over time. From the experience of anonymous social platforms, we can see that an anonymous environment is prone to many problems. Modern people are busy and under great pressure on weekdays. Such a state can be alleviated in the Internet. However, driven by the dark side of human nature, various negative emotions can easily pour out in an anonymous environment, which will inevitably harm others. As a result, harassment, slander, cyberbullying, pornography…Various problems have repeatedly appeared, and the beautiful vision of the platform and users is particularly weak when it comes to the dark side of human nature. These negative emotions seem like a never-ending cycle, which will affect any anonymous social platform that wants to be positive, and will pull down and dissuade those users who originally have pure goals or just want to find a spiritual habitat. This is the fundamental reason why the demand for anonymous social networking is strong, but the product is difficult to gain a foothold in the market. Is it possible that anonymous social products can only be revolved in this vortex of reincarnation, without the slightest vitality and hope?

3. Deeply cultivating market segments, anonymous social networking can “rescue”

However, even if there are many problems, the desire and demand of human beings for anonymous social interaction has never ceased. In real life, too many people live with “personal design”, and every time they post a circle of friends, they must first think and consider carefully, thinking about how to use glamorous online images to conceal the real life’s chaos and chicken feathers. The longer this state lasts, the more attractive the anonymous social model will be to users. Because in the anonymous social mode, people can take off the shackles and masks, hide in the “darkness” and make the most authentic sound. At this time, people don’t have to pretend to be their ideal self, and they don’t need to judge others too much. The most relaxed and comfortable state of human beings. Based on this demand, anonymous social products can often explode huge vitality in the early stage of operation, attracting a large number of users in a very short period of time. Even though there are still many problems that have not yet been resolved, it can be seen from the fact that anonymous social software “follows the next”, the anonymous social market still has huge potential to be explored. Therefore, what practitioners need to do may not be to change direction or simply abandon the anonymous social market, but to work hard on technology and supervision, using technical means to filter out as many negative content as possible, and to provide users with a healthy communication. Environment, and strengthen supervision at the same time, make the anonymous social platform and community more pure. In this way, anonymous social products are not hopeless, as long as they work hard, they can still be “rescued.” However, starting a business is easy and difficult, especially when doing anonymous social products. Perhaps for anonymous social networking, a pure environment and an attitude close to the original intention are the basic conditions to ensure the long-term existence of the platform rather than a short-lived one