Let’s face it, most of us like to share our positive experiences with our friends, and we like to use social media to reach as much of them as possible. Companies try to help us fulfill these needs with social media plugins or applications. The subject of this blog is a social media application. It is a combination of sharing your experience, rating the product and recommending (or not!) it to other users of the application. The best thing about it is however the subject: BEER! I am talking about the application Untappd, a social media app that enables its users to share and explore the world of beers (Mather & Crunchbase Staff, 2016).
How does it work?
To use the application, an account is needed. Users are able to create an account or join with their Facebook account. After that, they are able to add bears to their profile, see what beers are popular nearby or find beers and breweries. The idea is that you share the beer that you are drinking, along with a rating of it, and other options such as comments, your location, the friends you are with, and a photo. This is called the check-in and is the main function of the application. Based on posts like these, other users can see what people nearby are drinking, what beers are popular and what friends are drinking. You are also able to respond on a check-in by commenting or ‘toasting’, which can be compared to a ‘like’ on Facebook.
Each user has a user profile that is updated with all check-ins, such as which beers and how many times a beer is checked-in. The user also earns badges, as achievements of goals that are set within the app. This way, Untappd creates a competitive environment on users and achieves a distinction between novice and expert users.
For a platform it is important to achieve and maintain a sufficient user base. As this is a social media platform application, this means that it is important that people interact. They need to have the feeling that they are drinking socially, meaning that the share of their experience is read and appreciated. Untappd does not publish any statistics on their user base but mentioned in 2014 on their blog that they passed the 1 million users (the Untappd Team, 2014), and has only become more popular since. People react on other users and recommend beers at local pubs and restaurants, creating an interesting community.
But the business model of Untappd is one of the other success factors. The users are able to get a sponsor account, offering extra functions at a small fee per month. But the best part is that they created a business side on the platform, allowing companies such as pubs and breweries to join the community and see what users say about their beers. Business opportunities can be requested (Untappd.com, 2016) and they need to pay a fee to join the community. It makes it interesting as breweries are able to analyze the platform for insights, and promote new brews to the users. Pubs can upload their beer menu’s to show which beers are available, possibly attracting users that are interested in a rare beer. But instead of annoying the users with ads or pushed promotions, Untappd is able to create an atmosphere in the community that allows easy, low level connections between breweries and users. Breweries for example ‘toast’ or comment on users that enjoy their beer and pubs get more visits from customers asking for their specialties and recommendations. Although Untappd uses multiple business models to run their platform, it does not disturb the user and is able to earn revenues from both sides of the platform. It is a social network niche with a nice business model, one where I would love to toast you on for the BIM drinks. Cheers!
Mather, T. & Crunchbase Staff (2016) Untappd. Available at: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/untappd#/entity [accessed on march 10th 2016]
The Untappd Team (2014) Untappd is 1,000,000 strong and growing! Available at: http://blog.untappd.com/post/73638076039/untappd-is-1000000-strong-and-growing [accessed on march 11th 2016]
Untappd.com (2016) Business. Available at: https://untappd.com/business [accessed on march 11th 2016]