If Instagram’s photo-tagging feature was spun out into its own app, you’d have the viral sensation Poparazzi, now the No. 1 app on the App Store. The new social networking app, from the same folks behind TTYL and others, lets you create a social profile that only your friends can post photos to — in other words, making your friends your own “paparazzi.” To its credit, the new app has perfectly executed on a series of choices designed to fuel day-one growth — from its prelaunch TikTok hype cycle to drive App Store preorders to its postlaunch social buzz, including good tweets by its backers. But the app has also traded user privacy in some cases to amplify network effects in its bid for the Top Charts, which is a risky move in terms of its long-term staying power.
The company positions Poparazzi as a sort of anti-Instagram, rebelling against today’s social feeds filled with edited photos, too many selfies, and “seemingly effortless perfection.” People’s real lives are made up of many unperfect moments that are worthy of being captured and shared, too, a company blog post explains.
This manifesto hits the right notes at the right time. User demand for less performative social media has been steadily growing for years — particularly as younger, Gen Z users wake up to the manipulations by tech giants. We’ve already seen several startups try to siphon users away from Instagram using similar rallying cries, including Minutiae, Vero, Dayflash, Oggl, and, more recently, the once-buzzy Dispo and the under-the-radar Herd.
Even Facebook has woken up to consumer demand on this front, with its plan to roll out new features that allow Facebook and Instagram users to remove the Like counts from their posts and feeds. Poparazzi hasn’t necessarily innovated in terms of its core idea — after all, tagging users in photos has existed for years. In fact, it was one of the first viral effects introduced by Facebook in its earlier days. Instead, Poparazzi hit the top of the charts by carefully executing growth strategies that ensured a rocket ship-style launch.