Poparazzi: Creating authenticity in an inauthentic world
Creating an authentic persona on social media can be seen as an oxymoron to some, but that’s where Poparazzi CEO, Alex Ma, saw an opportunity. “Social [media] has become a super toxic place. We wanted to build a window into someone’s life, instead of a wall like many other social media platforms have done...Our mission at Poparazzi is to connect people in the most authentic way and spread empathy.”
Users upload “pops” of each other for a social media feed that looks like real life, rather than the curated selfies seen so frequently on other platforms. With 95 percent of their user base under 21, Poparazzi has rapidly become one of 2021’s unexpected viral sensations, quickly racing to the coveted #1 spot on the App Store.
Alex tells us what makes it different. “Your friends are your fans. Unlike most social media where you’re posting about yourself and hyping yourself up, Poparazzi is about hyping your friends up and your friends hyping you up.”
Unlocking your users’ voices
Alex Ma is no stranger to Instabug. Three years ago Alex encountered Instabug while using Houseparty (related: Houseparty case study). He was hooked by the shake-to-report feedback feature and the native-feeling flow. Being an experienced app developer, Alex knew he had to have Instabug in any app he would develop. Alex and his brother, Austen, would go on to develop many apps, but none reached the magnitude of Poparazzi, which was the tenth app the pair had released.
During the development process of Poparazzi, the Ma brothers consistently sought feedback from their users, using Instabug’s In-App Chats as their primary communication channel.
Alex Ma knows the importance of feedback and is an advocate for Instabug “If I’m talking about the product, I always end with ‘for any feedback, concerns, ideas, just shake the app to reach our team.’ For us, it’s about that user experience… Instabug is a premium experience.”
All that user feedback was crucial for the team during its rapid product development process. They heavily leveraged the information they got from chats with users during the development of what eventually became Poparazzi.
At the time, the team had only four people on it, and just two of those were developers. “As a startup, you have limited resources and most of the stuff that you ship doesn’t work. But learning from that is so important,” says Alex. “Instabug was critical for us to get feedback from users.”
That feedback ended up giving them the basis for their smash hit app. They took their users’ opinions seriously during the product development phase and continued iterating on ideas until they had something that truly resonated with Gen Z.
“Instabug was super critical in our process. Not only for launching and scaling but for finding product-market fit.”
–Alex Ma, CEO, Poparazzi
Big launch, small team
The team realized they had a hit on their hands when they reached the Testflight limit of 10,000 users in just three days. “We knew we had something special,” says Alex. The unusual value proposition and social nature of the app generated a lot of buzz, and Poparazzi had 500,000 pre-downloads before the app was officially released. The team knew they’d have to prepare for a bigger launch than they’d ever done before.
In addition to gathering user feedback, Instabug also helped the Poparazzi team manage technical issues. The two-person developer team used Instabug to triangulate bugs and crashes in the app. Though the rapid growth was challenging, Alex and his team mitigated potential problems by utilizing the user-friendly Instabug feature, shake and report, to keep direct lines of communication open with users and ensure issues were quickly addressed and resolved.
Launching an app for half a million waiting users sounds daunting, but the team felt prepared. “As a small team, you’re pretty strapped for resources… We wanted to do something we knew would work. It would have been a nightmare to figure out all that [feedback] in real-time with all those users,” Alex tells us. But Instabug gave them an easy and efficient way to manage it all.
The Poparazzi team pulled off the launch in May 2021 and the app has continued to gain momentum. It enjoyed some time in the #1 spot on the App Store and has been featured on the homepage 11 times since then.
As Poparazzi’s user base continues to grow, the developers keep users in the know with Instabug’s In-App Chats and Feature Announcements. Native-feeling popups within the app alert users to new features upon release and encourage them to try them out. This encourages feature adoption and user retention.
Poparazzi’s continued growth with Instabug
Instabug helped Poparazzi identify which core values matter most to its users, which gave birth to one of the quickest growing social media platforms among Gen Z. Poparazzi’s mission of authenticity resonates strongly with its users because it largely came from them. The app’s new approach to social media gives Gen Z what they want—real moments, real people, real friendships. “This generation is very sensitive to what’s authentic and what isn’t,” says Alex. Part of the reason the platform keeps growing is that it encourages people to be their real selves.
Alex believes that feedback is essential. “I would highly recommend Instabug to anyone on the product development journey. Listening to feedback from users, making sure you’re building an app that works and is high quality is critical and crucial to finding product-market fit. Instabug played a really big role in doing that for us… For mobile, it’s world-class.”
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