The currently available methods of sharing aren’t enough according to Jon Vlassopulos, CEO of Tribalist. In the way that Pinterest took image sharing to a new level, Vlassopulos hopes his new type of social network, centered around lists and listmaking, will take people’s passion for curation to a different shareable level.
“I’ve been more disappointed with the current options of sharing creations,” said Vlassopulos in an interview with AList. “You have a lot of short-termism, especially for [younger people]. We have an issue with chronological redundancy engines AKA social media, and the notion that they feed on redundancy.”
“Tribalist is your home for actionable inspiration,” reads the website. “A new trusted platform to search, discover and create the best lists on the web, helping you find the best things to do each day. We save you time by finding and aggregating all the best lists from top publishers and from our Tribalist community.”
A quick perusal of Tribalist’s front page shows lists like: “TV Shows Axed in 2019,” “Glamping in CA,” “The best books about islands” and “Best Burgers in the Bay Area.” These topics may not be mind-blowing, but it is interesting to see how regular users are shown alongside publishers like Newsweek, Guardian and Paste. The equalization of what Vlassapulos calls “cultural currency.”
Tribalist launched in 2017, then launched an iOS app in February, followed by an Android app in late March.
Vlassopulos angles it as a place to unload the many lists that have accumulated in the minds of people, especially creatives.
In the current system, social media largely exists to focus on monetization. After all, how often have you seen the same article or image posted from a number of friends?
“So this actually leads to tons of contributors, professional posters, media companies—it’s stressful on the contribution side and it’s stressful on the consumption side,” Vlassopulos added.
Tribalist was founded on the notion that everyone has something to say and everyone is interesting to someone, therefore making them potentially influential to other people.
“Not just commercially influential, but amongst what’s known as a nano-influencer, which is being bandied around by the British press,” explained Vlassopulos. “We feel there is nothing more exciting than that buzz or rush of turning someone onto something you love—whether it’s a restaurant, a movie or a hotel and experience. So, we would like to be the platform to present that publishing opportunity for anyone.”
It is through that lens that Tribalist sees opportunities for non-traditional influencers. It’s very much of the time for brands to prop up regular users/customers as a version of influencers—Glossier, in particular, has done this to massive success—but to hear it from a platform other than YouTube feels new.
“I love the whole notion of what we call ‘cultural currency,’” says Vlassopulos. “If you ask me about anything in life and I’m passionate about it, I’m going to tell you why I’m passionate about it and I want to tell you something new. So there is the opportunity [for Tribalist].”
With any new social platform come the run-of-the-mill comparisons. In Tribalist’s case, the platform is mostly being compared to Pinterest. Vlassopulos finds some humor in it, recalling a headline in The Times that read “Pinterest Rival.”
Vlassopulos laughs about it but admits that being compared to Pinterest has its advantages. Even a few similar principles like a free platform and monetization efforts like sponsored content and affiliate marketing creates relevance.
“We wanted to have a free platform for everyone to be able to share what they love with the world, and hopefully we don’t want to be the end-point, so our business model is around similar to Pinterest.”
Vlassopulos also mentions what Pinterest calls their three legs, “discovery, personal productivity
“When they say ‘personal productivity’ they mean ‘commerce,’” he added. “The commerce part for us is all those relationships, so we are taking an affiliate fee from small to larger [companies], depending on a category.”
Sponsored Lists, for example, are Tribalist’s version of Sponsored Pins on Pinterest. Use cases are endless, Vlassopulos, explained.
“A travel company, for example, can have hundreds and hundreds of travel lists, such as ‘Weekend Getaway for the Family,’ ‘Romantic Valentine’s,’ ‘Kite Surfing in Hawaii,’ etc. There is something for everyone and with that, the opportunity to have those lists seen by more people.”