Social media is in a constant state of change. Hype for apps like Ello come and go, while even stalwarts like Facebook and Twitter are one big idea away from obsoletion. It also seems there's a new player in town, Peach.cool. Founded by Vine creator Dom Hoffman, Peach is a mobile app that lets users message text, images and gifs to friends. It attempts to step out in its polished interface combining popular features of the gamut of established sties like Facebook and Tumblr, but also allows special "keywords" that users can enter to easily use different features and effects.
Jaime Stein over at Hootsuite gave Peach a test drive. We've included an excerpt here, but check out what he had to say — and what he thinks about its potential for business — here.
When I first started playing with Peach, I was bombarded with questions from colleagues about the app: What is it? What does it do? How do I get it? Is it like Snapchat? Will businesses use it? What’s the ROI? (That last question was likely a joke.)
I personally experience tremendous joy when a new social network comes out because the unknown is awesome. There are no use cases or prescribed norms — you get to blaze a trail and help define how a community will be shaped.
With that in mind, I have laid out a few suggestions on how to approach a new social network:
Play around. Break things. Forget about how you would use an established network like Twitter or Facebook. In the case of Peach, I was able to make some cool animated GIFs that seemed to get everyone excited. I also messed around with the draw function and caked a few people. It was an innocent activity that started out as waving, but quickly escalated to throwing cake. I was a little offended when someone quarantined me back, but then I discovered a whole set of activities you could do to your friends — it was like Facebook’s “Poke” function on steroids.
It’s a team sport
Discovering new social networks is a team sport. You can only figure out so much in isolation before you need a little help from your friends. As I was messing around with Peach on my iPhone, my colleague Adam Houghton found a user guide with short codes that opened up a host of new features. Imagine discovering UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START — it was that level of excitement.
All of a sudden, I was able to add my location, search for and share GIFs, and insert the weather from where I stood. This instantly made the app more sticky and had me further down the rabbit hole of discovery.
Pro Tip: Type “help” when you are posting to see the entire list of magic words.
Creep your friends
See what your friends are up to on the app. Is someone doing something cooler that you? Most likely. My colleague Matt Diederichs was up to some interesting things on his Peach feed and that led me to discover some additional features like commenting and ratings. Matt also had a head start on following people, so I scoped out his friends list and added some new people to follow.
Another good way to find friends, which can be a challenge on Peach, is to search your address book by entering your phone number. I check daily to see if new friends have joined Peach—this helps me keep in touch with more people and keep my content fresh.
Is Peach right for brands?
The inevitable question that will arise is whether Peach will work for businesses.
Trends have been moving towards apps that offer more than just text and image combinations. Twitter and Facebook have added GIFs. Instagram added video. Snapchat has a combination of easy to create media and filters. All of these changes have been geared towards putting more excitement into social networks that may be at risk of becoming stale.
“I like that it’s bringing the fun aspect back to social media,” said Diederichs, who is a social campaigns specialist at Hootsuite. “It’s got all the little questions and secret words. It’s more fun than business or serious engagement.”
But with any new network, understanding the value can be a challenge. Laurie Dillon-Schalk, VP of strategy and insights at FUSE Marketing Group, wonders how Peach will benefit brands, “It feels like there is a land grab for brand names and for large followings. It seems without verification, or bios or some of the key elements from other social networks, that the credibility of accounts will be in question.”
“Furthermore,” she added, “I’m not seeing how this network gains earned media value.”
What I like about Peach
After spending the better part of the weekend exploring Peach, these are some of my favorite features.
I always struggle to keep up in the GIF game with my younger, more culturally connected colleagues. Peach solves that problem for me. Its GIF selector allows you to search by keyword and quickly populates your feed with a carousel of GIF options to choose from. Seamless!
Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” and Twitter prompts you with “What’s happening?” to get you to post content. These are pretty open ended questions and it can sometimes be difficult to get started. Peach, on the other hand, has an array of prompts from “What’s something you can’t live without?” to “What would you love to win a lifetime supply of?” This is an interesting way to get users more active.
I enjoy the ability to do more than poke someone. There are some fun options to engage your friends, although, it would probably be a bit awkward to “put a ring on” one of your social media buddies. Or maybe not!
When you type “good morning” into your feed, Peach also includes the weather and the time. This is handy if you want to keep track of when you wake up or boast about the warm weather you are experiencing while on vacation and your friends are back home freezing.
Posts appear to disappear after 48 hours. As a long time Twitter user, sometimes it would be nice for older posts to not be searchable for the remainder of my life. A 48 hour lifespan seems long enough in social media for content to exist. It also helps drive adoption, because you will need to keep checking Peach to ensure you don’t miss content from friends. This also reinforces why Peach is calling itself a messaging app more than a social network.
What I dislike about Peach
In the early hours, the app kept signing a bunch of us out. Unless this was some sort of social experiment to help people remember another new password, it was slightly annoying. It seems that Peach is working on fixing this bug, though.
There is no ability to search for friends by their username. You can input their username and your friend will get a notification, but if you mistype their name, you can’t connect. I also like the idea of deciding later whether to accept a friend request, however, I did that to a few people and I’m not sure when they will come back from the abyss—if ever!
On the topic of friends, it can be hard to discover what your friends are sharing. This was a common complaint shared by many of my friends on Peach.
With any new network, you want to discover new friends quickly. During the first 24 hours of the app’s existence, the friends of friends feed was helpful to discover other people you may know on Peach, but since more and more fake accounts have been created, this feature has quickly become useless.
On a related note, I’m not a fan of all the fake accounts that’ve popped up during the initial land grab for user names—it just adds to the noise. One of the reasons why I’m enjoying Peach so far is that it is less noisy than both my Facebook and Twitter feeds, which have grown out of control and beyond help.