Playsee: Bringing Authenticity Back to Everyday People

Hand uses cell phone with social reactions rising

2020 was a miserable year for many, but for the team at Playsee, 2020 was the beginning of a brand new adventure. The Silicon Valley-backed social media company launched its new social media app. It quickly catapulted to the top of their game, gaining 20 million downloads and becoming available on iOS and Google Play in just a little over a year. Last month, according to PR Newswire, the company took a massive step in the US and transitioned from beta to becoming fully available to users and creators from all corners. Recently, we sat down with Rachel Chang, the Product Marketing Manager at Playsee, and spoke with her on everything from business growth to influencers.

Of the brand’s vision, Chang told us, “Our main mission is to create an app. A social media app where people can feel seen and heard.” The goal of the minds behind Playsee is to break away from the world of Instagram influencers and TikTok dance crazes. The goal is to take a break from picture-perfect editing and give people a break from wishing their life was more like somebody else’s. Playsee’s main goal was to show the day-to-day lives, activities, and habits as told by real people. Authenticity is at the heart of the drive behind Playsee.

Whereas platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have a feed-style homepage, where one can catch themselves constantly scrolling to the next thing, Playsee opens into an interactive map. The map allows users to decide where they want to go and what they want to see. CCM describes it as being “known for bringing features from TikTok, Instagram, and Google Maps together as it is organized like a map that allows you to take virtual trips through short videos.” Want to see what’s happening down the street or in your neighborhood? You can do that! Maybe you want to check out what’s happening across the world from you in New York City or Bolivia. Playsee allows you to drop in and see what others are experiencing. You can even check out cool tourist destinations or theme parks, even restaurants. Anything or anywhere a user or business is sharing, you have access to. In many ways, it’s like having your tour guide for any city or location of your choosing. You see places and experiences through the eyes of locals and passionate business owners.

Playsee user experience
Playsee social app / Photo courtesy of Playsee

The app allows people to be themselves, to share their real-life experiences, whether that be what school they are attending, cool spots in their hometown, or more travel-based destinations like National Parks and foreign countries. Playsee also encourages people to share what activities they participate in, like scuba diving or horseback riding. Playsee’s goal is to give the average social media user a platform. Businesses can also use the platform to allow users to get up close and personal with the typical day-to-day of their goings-on. Unlike platforms such as Instagram or Facebook that may have an algorithm based on the content of a post, information about the poster, and information based on past views, Playsee’s algorithm is based on how emotionally engaging or how well at showcasing their daily life or business the user is.

When asked about the video format being close to TikTok’s, Chang responded by telling us, “I would say that we identify that we’re similar in the short video format, and then of course that they’re open to the public so you can follow your close friends, but also people that you don’t know. But we are very different in our core value of what we want to do and the kind of short videos we want to see on our platform… The kind of content you see and what we push with our algorithm is a lot more daily life and focused on people engaging or evoking emotions or showcasing their experience in daily life. Versus, I think on TikTok, you see a lot more talent shows [sic.] whether you’re a good dancer, really good at editing, or good at making a comedic bit.”

Social Media Burnout

Chang mentions that she believes there has been quite a bit of social media burnout and fatigue from all the “unrealistic standards” created by other platforms. “These unrealistic standards are being set up. Whether it’s your body image, your experiences, where you’re traveling, and it makes people feel that if you don’t live that kind of life, then somehow it’s not worth sharing.” And Chang isn’t alone in feeling this. Social media fatigue is so real that it has been written about in scholarly journals and even defined in Techopedia as “…social media users’ tendency to pull back from social media when they become overwhelmed with too many social media sites, too many friends and followers and too much time spent online maintaining these connections. Boredom and concerns about online privacy are also linked to social media fatigue.” Part of the idea behind Playsee is to take all these external stresses away to create a platform for “normal” people.

However, Playsee isn’t necessarily taking out the idea of an “influencer” altogether. It is just to bring the influencer status to the everyday person who can’t live the van life or have full-time work as a food travel critic. A Playsee user can still climb to the top of their game and gain many followers based on engagement and how much they are posting or what content they are creating. Chang says, “I think in everything you do, it’s what you put into it.” She explains that the more videos you post or the more content you create, the more followers you will ultimately get.

That isn’t, however, to say that Playsee doesn’t have its fair share of Van lifers or travel influencers on the platform. One major difference from other social media platforms is that Playsee doesn’t offer the user to edit or change the video. It rings true to their “what you see is what you get” mentality. So, Chang says that these nature enthusiasts share the most real experiences as they post their non-edited photos or videos from their travels. Chang goes on to explain, “… some people can only travel locally, and some people can do it globally. As long as the video is authentic and it is engaging and evokes emotion, there’s value in that.”

Some may boo and hiss at the idea of not being able to edit their videos, but Chang says there’s more to it than that and that there is a certain type of freedom found when you aren’t performing for people on that level. “…the second thing I would say is for creators and businesses on our platform, I think they are very much trained in the current offerings on the market to use social media in a certain way and to share their businesses content in a certain way… And I do think that they’re seeing that by sharing the kind of content on Playsee, they’re getting a lot of attention and being recommended to users, so they see that they don’t necessarily need to have a marketing team behind their content or always having perfectly shot videos of their business, that this can also work.”

Onward and Upward

In the future, Chang says, “…we’ll also have additional features that will help aid these creators or businesses to push their brand or their agenda. And on the more paid side… aside from organically managing their profile, they can pay to do ads on our platform as well and push their profile or their main goals throughout the app.” The accounts themselves are built up from a free, base level. Then, depending on if the single user or business wants to get hands-on with their profile, they can upgrade themselves to an official account that unlocks features that allow them to make their profile more welcoming for people to view. Ad placements begin at $5 and promise to get you the customers seeking you based on matched interests. Have a delivery option for your business? Even better. Playsee will help you cast your net in your town and across the world. Plus, with Playsee’s analytic abilities, you can keep an eye on your growth and set performance goals for your business.

Even though the app has been a huge success in such a short time, it isn’t without its struggles. Chang shared that the greatest difficulty for Playsee is maintaining its top value of keeping authenticity alive. “We’re trying to do something different, and how is the market going to respond to that? I think the most affirmative thing that we’ve seen is that through our user data through our session time, our retention rate, and our rating and review, we’re seeing users respond positively to our product and the features that we’re pushing and the kind of content they’re seeing.”

And the users have spoken – many of them enjoy the layout of the map and the ability to travel the world. The breakdown of numbers shows that the average percentage of male to female users is just about even at a 51% usage rate for males and a 49% rate for females. The age range also shows a fairly even usage rate between people ranging from their 20s to 50s. These numbers are a great sign for the growing company that hopes to keep spreading its wings.

From here, the brand plans to only move upwards and become another big competitor against companies like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. The next plan is to continue gaining speed in North America and Europe and eventually move on to the rest of the world. Because of their already huge and growing customer base, Playsee relies on consumers who understand their mission statement to help spread the news. Chang says, “…people will see the kind of values that we’re trying to push and what different offerings we’re trying to do in the market. So, I do think that there is space indefinitely and potential for exponential growth.” Although Chang didn’t share specifics, she did mention that users can expect to see new kinds of features coming in the next two to three years.

In the end, Playsee measures success by continuing to bring the most real, authentic content from all parts of the world to your phone screen, and so far, they are doing just that.

Cover photo courtesy of Playsee.