During six years of creating one of the most popular online social platforms in China, Soul App’s founder Zhang Lu has made only a handful of public appearances. She silently threw herself into innovating new features and catering to young generations’ social demands.
In 2021, Soul App’s average monthly activity users reached 31.6 million and daily activity users reached 9.3 million. How does Soul App make such a huge success? What’s the product logic behind this App? Recently, Zhang Lu attended a media interview and shared her insights and stories.
According to Zhang Lu, Soul App is created to help users find like-minded partners to establish authentic social connections in the virtual world and satisfy their sense of belonging, which is difficult to obtain in reality.
In fact, most social networking platforms still function under an antiquated paradigm that prioritizes established social networks, which puts younger users who wish to express themselves openly and honestly under social pressure. In such a market environment, Soul App has distinguished itself by establishing a social playground for young generations. Taking advantage of big data and AI, Soul App enables its user to explore interest-based avatar-centred socialization and set up authentic social connections with virtual identities.
When users join for Soul App, they can customize their avatars to establish new virtual identities while keeping their physical appearances and identities at a comfortable distance. Users must then complete a “Soul Test” (a personality quiz), which places users on various “Planets,” areas where like-minded people can be located. In this way, users can explore authentic social relationships in the virtual world.
Soul App protects its users from the increasing pressure that frequently emerges from a complicated network of social ties in the actual world. It serves as a social playground free from pressure and prejudice. Some users see it as a virtual “tree hollow” where they can freely express themselves while remaining anonymous and safe. However, Soul App’s CEO Zhang Lu emphasizes that Soul App is much more than a tree hollow. Users of Soul App can create, share, and connect in addition to freely expressing themselves.
Users increased as a result of these novel features. The number of its monthly active users increased by 51% from the previous year to 31.6 million in 2021. User stickiness is also high at the same time. As of 2021, 59 percent of all Soul App users are very active.
User engagement is the backbone of a vibrant community. High levels of interaction encourage users to post more, creating a beneficial cycle of content creation and consumption that, in the end, greatly enhances the platform’s UGC ecology. Over 790 million pieces of fresh material were created by Soul users in 2021, of which 35.9% were from MAUs.
According to its public business strategy, Soul App mostly generates income via virtual props, membership fees, and other value-added services. Additionally, Soul App is making use of its open platform features to diversify its commercial offerings.
As mentioned above, avatar is one of Soul App’s most striking characteristics. Each user can create their own avatar and develop a new virtual identity. Under such a background, a brand-new profession known as avatar design emerges. The most recent statistics show that 23,000 avatars have been made on Soul App by more than 80 official creators. Soul App supports the developing creative economy by giving content creators a platform to convert their enthusiasm into realizable revenue.
Zhang Lu also reveals Soul App’s future plan, which is to develop a social metaverse for young Generations. Zhang Lu discusses her perspective of the social metaverse and the direction Soul App would take. She states that a virtual 3D world is not required for the metaverse to exist. Instead, it may be a platform with gamified elements, a decentralized social space, and an economic cycle. Everyone may create their own unique avatars, own digital assets, and take advantage of an immersive social ecology in the social metaverse.
We are embracing a new era of online social networking in the Internet age and taking advantage of the fresh social experiences it offers us. Soul App, is currently gaining popularity in the online social networking market thanks to its AI-powered, avatar-centric, and interest-based features. In the future, under Zhang Lu’s leadership, Soul App will continue making efforts to build a social metaverse for young generations.