Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Toward a Better Social Media Experience: In Conversation with Jerry Chien, Gravvity CEO

Have you ever missed big news in your social feeds? A birth announcement, an engagements, maybe your niece’s first soccer goal or your nephew’s first basketball game? Depending on how the social media algorithms, the post may never have shown up in your feed, if you didn’t accidentally scroll past it while skipping another ad for magic weight loss supplements.

A chat app that filters our extraneous content and then notifies users of the most important posts on their social media feeds had its early access launch last week.

Jerry Chien believes Gravvity can help beat social media fatigue. The startup CEO is bettering on the power of pull over push. The newly-launched tool is designed to help users filter their social media feeds to focus on the most-relevant posts from those users care the most about.

“Social apps are designed to cause some kind of emotional reaction, not necessarily to show you the posts from the people you care most about,” Chien said in a recent telephone conversation. “Instead there is this constant pushing of content through ads and other kinds of chatter. I think that constant push to provoke a reaction that is causing people more anxiety and more mental health issues.”

That doesn’t mean advertising isn’t part of the Gravvity business plan.

“We know that users don’t mind seeing ads that relevant, we know that they are willing and interested to see local ads from their community’s businesses and restaurants,” Chien said. “We want our users to participate in building filters that will allow them to determine what ads appear. And, then we will share 50% of the ad revenue we bring with their data with the user.”

Central to the ethos of Gravvity is the idea that users should be able to use their data to benefit themselves, not social media platforms. The current imbalance, Chien believes, is as detrimental to small and medium-sized enterprises as it is to social media users.

“I believe the businesses are being exploited and manipulated too,” Chien said. “Right now billions of dollars are being wasted annually on serving ads to an uninterested audience. Companies are paying for impressions that are never absorbed. Our data set will be authorized and created with the consumer, so you can target your product to those for whom it is an actual matter of concern.”

There were indicators that told Chien and his co-founder that the time was right to launch Gravvity.

“The trend, especially for young people, to make their online purchases over a social program is an important observation, especially when it is coupled with the role of influencers – especially those with smaller, but more authentic audiences,” Chien says.

At a time when “authenticity” can be used as just another buzz-word, Chien has defined exactly what it means for Gravvity.


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Kate Baggott
Kate Baggott
Kate Baggott is a former Managing Editor of B2BNN. Her technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun and the Bay Street Bull. She is the author of the short story collections Love from Planet Wine Cooler and Dry Stories. Find links to recent articles by following her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-baggott-9a0306/