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The rise of social media app Wizz: From experimental venture to 16-million users and counting in 3 years

Unlike social networking platforms that connect users with people they already know, Wizz brings together teens of the same age group who would otherwise not know each other, based on shared interests.

Photo courtesy of Wizz
Photo courtesy of Wizz

This article is Sponsored Content by CVM

After launching as an experimental project by video game developer Voodoo a little over three years ago, Wizz faced the challenge of standing out in a market dominated by social media giants like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.

But Wizz had a different approach to social media. Wizz rapidly gained traction as a social discovery app designed for teens aged 13 to 25. Unlike social networking platforms that connect users with people they already know, Wizz brings together teens of the same age group (plus or minus one year) who would otherwise not know each other, based on shared interests.

In just three years, Wizz has soared from zero to 16 million users, recently hitting a milestone of 3.8 million daily active users, according to data.ai. 

So how exactly did Wizz pull this off? We spoke with Wizz’s Head of Growth Jodie Renassia to get the secrets to her and her team’s success.

“Everything starts and ends with our vision for the app. We realized very early on that if we put our mission — building a community where teens are safe to be themselves — at the center of any marketing, growth or product efforts, we can easily qualify ideas that are authentic and disqualify those that are at odds with our core promise,” shared Renassia.

But, as she explained, Wizz knew it couldn’t create an app based solely on its teams’ own instincts, nor its assumptions about the behavioral trends it was seeing. So, they went straight to the source to figure out what teens are really looking for. 

Wizz doesn’t sit around and wait for users to speak up, it creates opportunities for them to share their thoughts

“We engage with our teenage users within the app, on the Apple App Store and Google Play, through other social networks and even in-person,” said Renassia. “And we make sure that we’re not only speaking with those who are familiar with us, but also those who have never heard of or seen Wizz before.”

Wizz holds regular focus groups with teenagers at its Paris-based headquarters to get their unfiltered reactions to everything from product features and the app interface to more abstract topics such as their thoughts on basing their decision to connect with new friends on profile pics versus more character-based profile details. 

Through partnerships with other social media networks like TikTok, the company has also expanded its reach to current and future Wizz users, who often create organic content based on their Wizz experiences. By understanding which types of experiences make their way to TikTok, what users are saying about them, and how these authentic moments are influencing Wizz installs, Jodie and her team are able to tailor their future interactions with users.

“One huge thing we’ve discovered along the way is that one of  the most important things to many teens is having someone to talk to — and someone who will listen,” said Renassia.

In late 2023, the company transformed this insight into a 30-second YouTube ad campaign that drew attention to teens’ use of the app to connect with people in moments of loneliness, social anxiety, or just boredom. 

“We also make sure they feel heard by answering all comments that come through on our app, as well as reviews posted on the App Store,” added Renassia.

Wizz is continuously innovating without overwhelming users with features they don’t care about

At any given moment, Wizz is experimenting with games, graphics, comments, videos, small chats, big group chats, updates to its interface and interactive elements. But not every feature sticks around. Wizz takes a unique approach to innovation: each new feature first undergoes testing with a select user group, and is then rolled out to a broader audience if well received. If a feature doesn’t resonate — it’s quickly discontinued. This agile, user-centric strategy ensures every app feature aligns with users’ interests and drives engagement.

“This is a lot different from how other app creators approach features. It’s common to see networks have something for everyone to the point of chaos,” said Renassia. “We are exactly the opposite. We only want what people are engaging with and nothing else.”

When it comes to an app that caters to teens, it’s important to ask: Is Wizz safe?

Part of Wizz’s core vision is its commitment to providing a safe space where teens can freely express themselves. To do this, the app has built an entire ‘Safety Ecosystem.’ Together with four best-in-class technology partners, Wizz ensures that any bullying, offensive or otherwise inappropriate content (as defined in its extensive content policy) is removed before users see it. It has also introduced AI and human moderation tools to verify users’ ages within approximately a year of accuracy before they’re allowed on the app.  

“When users know they’re not going to receive malicious posts or content, and that the people they’re speaking to are the age they say they are, they feel more comfortable and safe being themselves,” said Renassia.

By prioritizing its community’s comfort engaging on the app, Wizz has set the stage for an increasingly loyal user base and high user frequency — both of which have contributed heavily to its rapid growth. The company’s CEO Aymeric Roffee recently described its approach to safety and moderation at length in an article for Forbes, titled Making Social Media Safe: Three Steps to Creating Trust Through Moderation

Wizz is matching its organic experience in-app with organic experiences outside of the app

“Paid advertising is always going to be important for increasing daily active users,” said Renassia. “But we’re constantly moving toward organic growth tactics, and have recently gotten to a point where as much as 50% of our marketing efforts are completely organic and unpaid.”

One of the ways Wizz is growing its audience is by connecting with current and future users through in-person events. The company recently hosted its first offline event with more than 500 TikTok creators in Paris and is currently in the process of launching an interactive street campaign across 15 popular spots in the city. 

Wizz is also continuing to increase its work with nano influencers on TikTok, already working with thousands of different creators. They’ve found that their audience resonates more with these influencers than huge influencers who are great for creating brand awareness, but don’t always drive action. “People feel more connected to nano influencers and connection is currency for Wizz,” said Renassia.

Next up for the Wizz app? The company is gearing up for its inaugural “Wizz House” for creators in Miami in early 2024. 

“We’re looking forward to growing our community over the next year as we continue to offer a space where teens can be themselves and build strong connections with people just like them,” said Renassia.

Wizz is currently used by teens and young adults in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Italy, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Spain, and plans to continue its expansion into new ones in the year to come.

Digital Journal
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