News & Views
The art of appealing to social teens

This week, Mashable ran a story with the headline ‘Why We Heart It Could Be The Next Big Social Network’. We Heart It is a social scrapbook with a vast and passionate young user base; it currently boasts over 25 million monthly active users, a figure which is rapidly growing.

If you think that the concept of a curated, visually focused social network sounds more than a little like Pinterest, you aren’t the only one. However, We Heart It actually predates Pinterest; it originated back in 2007, when founder Fabio Giolito began to curate images that he found inspiring during his graphic design degree, in a section on his website called ‘I Heart It’.

And while it took We Heart It a few years to secure funding, officially launching a year after Pinterest made waves, its robust user base is not to be scoffed at. Carmel Deamicis at Pando Daily believes that “the growing success of We Heart It and its monthly active user count suggests one thing; there’s room for more than one Pinterest on the market.”

The secret of We Heart It’s success? A focus on attracting tech-savvy, social teenagers. Approximately 80% of We Heart It’s users are under 24 (and around 50% of these are in their teens), whereas 80% of Pinterest’s users are over 24. We Heart It’s CEO Ranah Edelin is convinced that teens respond to the idea of a niche network: “Because Facebook is so large, it cannot be cool to the younger demographic that thrives on finding places to call their own, that are cool, that their mother, grandmother, uncle and everybody else aren’t on. That’s not Facebook’s fault, that’s just human nature.”

A sensitivity to user needs has resulted in We Heart It being a comment-free community, eliminating the possibility of trolling or cyber-bullying. Says Edelin: “One of the things we hear loud and clear from our users is that We Heart It is a positive and supportive community and service where people are free to express themselves without backlash and repercussions.”

This youth-oriented ethos has influenced the nature of We Heart It’s inaugural partnerships with publications such as Teen Vogue and Lucky, who will add ‘Heart This’ buttons to selections of their online content moving forward. At the moment, there is no monetary aspect to the collaboration, however it is evident that Condé Nast is taking We Heart This seriously as a property – an indication that it is no flash in the pan Pinterest-alike.

We Heart It is reported to be seeking an additional round of funding in 2014.

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