Recently numerous youths from Generation Z in China are emerging themselves in Soul App, a social platform that allows its users, also known as soulers, to find like-minded users based on interest sharing. A recent survey reveals Soul App as the most downloaded free social app in Apple’s iOS App Store. Meanwhile, the latest data from an authorized third-party platform shows that the number of Soul App’s daily active users is approaching 10 million. Soul App, featuring its unique socializing model, is witnessing tremendous welcome among young generations. In a recent interview, Zhang Lu, chief executive officer of Soul App, shared her story of developing Soul App.
Zhang Lu’s story with Soul App originates from her unsatisfied need for life-sharing. She isn’t the only person who has such a feeling. In a previous survey, 23% of participants involved suggested that their social needs could not be fully met by current mainstream social applications. Faced with increasing socializing pressure and diversified socializing appeals, young people nowadays are seeking a platform that allows them to go beyond the social circle of acquaintances. On the one hand, they are eager to express themselves. On the other hand, they look forward to feedback from like-minded friends, hoping to dive into new social relationships, explore new friend circles, ultimately releasing themselves from the feeling of solitude.
Zhang Lu believes that a sense of loneliness or solitude lasts throughout everyone’s life. According to Zhang, it is shared by different people from different life stages. The only difference lies in the intensity and length of loneliness they feel. Normally people need to establish a sense of existence, which can be acquired through interpersonal communication. Therefore they need a channel to express themselves and interact with others.
“When we were young we just wanted to post whatever we wanted to post immediately, express whatever we wanted to express immediately, and have someone to interact with very quickly. This need is actually very simple and plain. So, I thought at that time what if I could post what I’d like to share anytime, anywhere, without pressure from possible judgement? I may get a reply from other people within five minutes and we may exchange our ideas. I actually start from a purely personal perspective and I know all I want is a social tool that could meet this simple need. Soul App meets this demand in two dimensions: direct content posting and instant chat matching. These two ways work together to constitute the underlying logic of Soul App.”
Soul App generates an interest graph for every user based on their social network portraits. Instead of relying on acquaintances socialization, Soul App allows its users to browse through content they favor, find other like-minded users and invoke emotional empathy among different people. It leads its users to share their lives, exchange interests, find people with similar interests online, expand their circle of life and then generate deep relationships. Benefiting from a powerful recommendation algorithm, when users post content on Soul App, they can choose a hash tag for their post, through which their posts can be forwarded to other users and relevant content can be further explored as well. Soul App’s existing communities are all spontaneously generated by users.
Usually social relationships diverge in two directions. One represents a strong relationship and the other is weak. Invariably the necessity of building and maintaining a weak relationship is ignored. It has both advantages and disadvantages. Although the weak relationship is understood as instant and unstable social bonds, it is this instability that frees people of the pressure of socializing and the burden from existing life circles. Soul App builds a space for its users to freely build social ties and strengthen these ties into stronger social bonds.
Zhang Lu pointed out that these weak relationships are always undergoing the process of rebirth and extinction. “On the one hand, this helps to reduce the cost of maintaining a stable relationship; on the other hand, the cost of establishing a new connection is also very low. So if they can’t maintain a strong relationship, they will start a new one. Nowadays, young people are not simply satisfied with their immediate lives, they also seek more novel information. They look into other people’s lives with curiosity. What Soul App provides is such a platform, in which young people can constantly get themselves well-informed and develop new relationships. “
Soul App, with its 33 million monthly active users, is opening up a new track for interest-based social networking. Zhang Lu noticed that not only young people, but many post-80s and the previous post-70s, post-60s also share a different attitude towards life. Zhang is confident that Soul App is ready to embrace an increasing user base and will be gaining more popularity in the near future. Soul App will continue to optimize the efficiency of its recommendation function, user portrait, and AI technology. Zhang believes that Soul App will ultimately develop into a social platform that not only provides a social playground but bring a sense of identity to its users.