Vertical, the Promising Future of Social Media

Discussions about the future of social media have been increasing lately. With Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the launch of new social media startups, and Meta’s Threads, it’s clear that the next five years will bring changes. However, nobody knows exactly what social media will look like in five years. Many startups and legacy players like Meta believe that there will be a new platform that captures people’s attention, similar to Twitter and Facebook. But will everyone just move to a platform that’s essentially the same thing under a different name? It’s uncertain.

I recently spoke with an investor at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference who focuses on social media startups. We discussed what interested them the most, and they expressed more excitement for niche, specialized platforms targeting specific demographics or hobbies, rather than startups attempting to build large platforms. They believe that a platform with a narrower focus has more potential because it allows for the creation of strong communities.

An example of this is Lex, a social app designed for LGBTQIA+ communities. Lex recently raised $5.6 million in seed funding and aims to be a digital version of vintage lesbian personals. Users of Lex can find friends, roommates, and events within the queer space. Although Lex is three years old, it doesn’t aspire to become the next Reddit, Tinder, or Twitter. However, as more people publicly identify as LGBTQIA+, its influence is expanding.

Startups like Lex make a lot of sense. If you’re looking for a specific community on platforms like Threads or Twitter, it’s much easier to join a platform already focused on and curating content for that community or interest. Why would someone from a marginalized group scroll through irrelevant content, hate, and bots to find their community when there’s already a dedicated space elsewhere? Joining a specialized platform saves time and provides a more inclusive experience.

The future of social media is uncertain, and startups are experimenting with different approaches. While some believe in creating large catch-all platforms, others see potential in specialized communities. Only time will tell which direction social media will take in the next five years, but it’s clear that niche platforms like Lex are already making an impact by providing dedicated spaces for specific communities.