VSCO wants to be social media with no likes or comments

A new trend is emerging on social media.

Joel Flory, the CEO and co-founder of popular photo-editing app VSCO, joined The Final Round Tuesday to discuss how his app addresses criticisms of social media, including a “compare culture” that he says focuses too much on likes and comments.

“Our mission is really focused around helping you fall in love with your own creativity,” explains Flory. “At VSCO, what we hear as we talk to our community is that, for so many of the other platforms, it’s about how they want the world to see them on those platforms – on VSCO, it’s a safe space for them to be who they are.”

According to Flory, VSCO provides a space for users to explore their creativity and self-expression without the social pressures of other social media.

“From the beginning, we’ve had no likes or comments; there’s been no way to publicly see the number of followers or the popularity of someone,” Flory continued. “As we’ve talked to our community in a recent study that we put out, over 77% of them are doing it for themselves. It’s not about what others think about them.”

In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, photo an iPhone displays the apps for Facebook and Messenger in New Orleans. Facebook says it paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its Messenger service. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Gen-Z is ‘keenly aware’ of social media’s impact on mental health

VSCO recently conducted a study focused on Gen-Z, and how that generation interacts with and behaves on social media.

“The first part of the study was around 96% of Gen-Z is saying that social media has a negative impact on them, and they’re keenly aware of their mental health and the impact that it has on that. But that was not a surprise to me,” Flory says. “On the flip side, over 80% talk about how creativity is a positive outlet for them, and something that adds value to their mental health.”

Flory said what surprised him most wasn’t that Gen-Z is hyperaware of their mental health in the digital age – but that they prioritize it.

“55% [of respondents] talked about how they’re so aware of the mental health issues that are surrounding them with social media, that they’re carving out time in their daily routine to invest in creativity in order to protect and improve their mental health,” says Flory. “I think they are keenly aware of the impact, and how to operate and navigate, this landscape of social media. They are looking at it from a social operating system, in which they’re using it for themselves and how to better their lives – I think a lot of good can come from that.”

VSCO’s filters are frequently used to manipulate images that users then post to Instagram; but Flory doesn’t draw comparisons between VSCO as a business and Instagram. Their missions, he says, are entirely different.

“From the beginning, VSCO’s business has been about building a product that people are willing to pay for, direct-to-consumer,” he explains. “The difference is that we’re in the business of selling an experience that you’re willing to pay for, use, and continue to pay for, and for us, that business model alignment to mission and vision and values is so critical.”

Olivia Balsamo is a writer and producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @BalsamoOlivia.

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