Meet the newest kid on the block: the Peach app

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Is Peach the next big thing or was it over before it even really started? It’s too early to tell, though GIFs could help it thrive in the crowded social space.

Whenever a new social media platform pops up, as surely as publications such as this one will contemplate whether it’s the next Facebook, brands will flock to it. Nobody is really sure exactly what Peach is, but some of its earliest adopters include brands such as Asos, MTV and surprisingly, Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary publisher isn’t exactly a social media powerhouse, but Peach is a natural fit for Merriam-Webster in a way that Snapchat and Instagram aren’t necessarily. The brand’s focus is obviously on words, but the platform’s format makes it very easy to combine them with visual elements.

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Peach has generated lots of press over the last two weeks, both declaring it the next big thing and dead within days, and it’s too early to tell what, if anything, will happen next. But you can never predict how these things turn out, which is why Jonathan Rick, president of the Jonathan Rick Group, thinks savvy brands so often get in on the ground floor.

“Part of the job description of every social media marketer is to stay abreast of new trends, and I suspect everyone in our field has heard of Peach and wanted to secure the URL just in case this thing blows up,” says Rick, recalling that the Pizza.com domain name fetched $2.6 million in 2008.

Peach’s purpose

In the iOS App Store, Peach peaked at 85, dropped down to 135 last week and has since fallen off the chart. So while it may not be the next big thing, the fact that an unknown app came out of nowhere and even got placed on the chart was pretty notable.

The most impressive part of that is how Peach managed to generate such a buzz despite having no obvious purpose. When all the major social platforms came along, they filled a very specific void. Peach is like a hybrid of Twitter’s feed, Facebook’s poking, and Snapchat’s lighthearted silliness, mixed in with a group text.

“If you look at Twitter, the users have transformed its mission with the hashtags. I think it’s OK that it’s not entirely clear what this network wants to be but on the other hand, there’s so much competition in this crowded space. Forget my attention span; think about my homescreen,” says Rick. “Kudos to Peach because it definitely pierced the bubble. The question is whether it’s sustainable.”

Peach’s main differentiator is the “magic words” feature. Type a letter and the platform will give you some options. H is for “here,” allowing users to broadcast their location, while “G” is for “GIF,” which brings up a GIF search engine.

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Peach’s pitfalls

Robb Henzi, senior strategy director at We Are Social, points out one problem with Peach: there’s no account verification. There’s no equivalent to Twitter’s blue checkmark, which is what facilitates consumers’ trust.

“Anyone can go into Peach and claim to be Walmart, so I feel that’s a challenge for brands to get involved in the first place. You’re supposed to trust what you’re reading, and who you’re getting content and information from,” says Henzi. “But for all we know, [Peach] could be working on this as we speak and launch it on Friday.”

Researching brands on Peach, I started typing in random names and requesting them as friends. The Taco Bell account nails the brand’s voice, but posts about “my boyfriend” and “my English exam” tipped me off. Similarly, I can’t tell if the Domino’s account is really the brand or a fantastic imitation. There’s even a checkmark, though it’s actually an emoji. I tweeted Domino’s to ask, but hadn’t heard back by the time of publication.

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Peach’s potential

Lacking a centralized feed to see your friends’ activity, Peach is clearly not a fully-developed platform. But if it sticks around, GIFs could be its sweet spot.

GIFs are popular, but not so easily accessible on other platforms. Sure, Giphy has options to share its visuals on Faecbook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Reddit, but you still have to go to Giphy. With Peach, that feature is built-in.

“People love the utility of, say, being able to order a pizza with emoji and not having to exit one thing and go to another thing,” says Henzi, adding that the magic words feature also offers potential for brands. “It could be interesting for different brands to stake a claim on a magic word. What if Starbucks was able to create ‘coffee’ as a magic word so that when you type in the word ‘coffee’ in Peach, that can somehow facilitate actually ordering a coffee?”

Henzi and Rick point out that ultimately, the platform is in its infancy. Is Peach going to change the world? Probably not. Is it already over? Eh, maybe. It’s too early to tell, but the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle: despite not being the new Facebook, Peach still does offer some value to brands.

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