In the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, users have been fleeing to other social apps like open source microblogging platform Mastodon and niche communities like CounterSocial. Now, another social app called Hive is seeing a boost in sign-ups in response to the upheaval at Twitter. The app today finds itself in the top 20 on the U.S. App Store after seeing a surge of new interest over the weekend as the situation at Twitter continues to devolve.
Founded in 2019 by then-22-year-old Kassandra Pop, Hive is not a direct Twitter clone. Instead, the Gen Z-focused social app was described in a Teen Vogue profile last year as combining concepts from a variety of social networks, including both Instagram and Twitter and even MySpace — the latter thanks to a feature that lets Hive users add music to their profiles, among other things.
The app is also not solely timeline-based, as Twitter is. In addition to the main feed, Hive’s users can explore their interests across a range of topic-based communities, like Science, Tech, Cars, Music, Fashion, Pets, Crafts, Books, Travel, Gaming, Art, Food and many others. Here, users can like, comment and repost the shared content, similar to other social networks, as well as click on hashtags to dive in further.
In some respects, Hive may feel more comfortable to former Twitter users looking for a new home because the app has a simple and familiar set of navigation options — there are tabs for viewing the main timeline or feed, a “Discover” section for exploring the social network, a tab for accessing your profile, and another for your notifications, for example. In the center, there’s a button to create a new post.
Hive also uses the same follower-based model as Twitter, as opposed to the mutual friending model you’d find on a network like Facebook.
However, unlike most social networks, Hive avoids personalization algorithms in favor of a chronological feed and it doesn’t monetize using ads. Instead, Hive offers users the ability to pay to unlock additional slots that let them showcase more of their favorite music on their profile. These range from $0.99 for a second slot to $1.99 for a third or fourth, the app’s App Store listing indicates.
Hive has been gaining traction in the weeks leading up to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and the days that followed. According to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, around 214,000 of Hive’s total 733,000 lifetime installs across iOS and Android arrived over the last 30 days alone. Of note, Hive seems to have gained the attention of those outside the U.S. — its non-U.S. installs account for around 86% of Hive’s total downloads, Sensor Tower said.
Data.ai’s estimates are largely in line with Sensor Tower’s, as it sees 720,000+ lifetime installs as of Nov. 20, but sees a higher number — 370,000 — coming from the U.S.
The app saw another surge in sign-ups starting on Friday and continuing over the weekend.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this was around the time Musk decided to welcome back former President Donald Trump to Twitter by unlocking his account. Though Trump hasn’t yet tweeted, saying he prefers his own app Truth Social, it seems Musk’s move was enough to encourage even more of Twitter’s users to look for alternatives as they contemplate jumping ship.
Sensor Tower’s data indicates Hive gained around 144,000 new installs over the past few days (Friday, Nov. 18 through Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022). 22,000 of those installs were from the U.S. alone, it says. During this time, the app also jumped from the No. 338 overall iPhone app on the U.S. App Store to become the No. 17 app today. In the U.K. it’s No. 17 and it’s No 24 in Canada.
The app was also the No. 3 app in the U.S. Social Networking category as of the time of writing, Sensor Tower said.
According to posts on Hive’s TikTok, the app crashed over the weekend as another 80,000 people signed up to check it out. As of this morning, Hive’s Twitter account reported the app now has “nearly 900,000” users signed up in total. (This number doesn’t exactly line up with Sensor Tower’s download estimates, but third-party data is not an exact science.)
@officialhivesocial HOW DO YOU LOSE 44 BILLION IN ONE MONTH?? Anyway join Hive, link in bio🐝 #riptwitter #goodbyetwitter #twittershutdown #twitterdown #elontwitter #elonmusk #hivesocial ♬ original sound – Hive Team🐝💛
This weekend isn’t the first time Hive has seen an influx of new users. The app also saw a brief spike in downloads in Feb. 2021, when it gained 439,000 new installs, 64% of which were from the U.S., Sensor Tower data shows. This surge can be attributed to the founder’s decision to pay a TikTok influencer to create a video, which resulted in some 250,000 installs in a matter of days, she claimed in an interview at the time.
Hive’s appeal may not only be due to its mixing of social networking concepts or its ease-of-use compared with signing up for Mastodon, which has confused some would-be users who don’t understand how to pick a server or what “fediverse” means. As with BeReal, Gen Z seems more drawn to newer social networks run by indie founders, not launched by big tech brands.
The app was previously spotted raising money on WeFunder but has not made any official fundraising announcements. (The app, which is available at Hivesocial.app, should not be confused with the older Hive Social app, previously hosted at hivesocial.com and promoted by “The Bachelorette” contestant Peter Kraus.)
We had trouble pulling up Hive on Twitter via search, where it’s ranked in the 30th spot for a search for the keywords “hive social,” (sans quotes) and doesn’t come up at all if you search “hive app.” Sus! The actual Twitter account for the app is “@TheHIVE_Social,” but even a search for “thehive_social” specifically returns only the founder’s Twitter account (Raluca is her Romanian name).
Hive hadn’t responded to requests for comment at the time of publication. Shortly after, Kassandra Pop replied with the most recent metrics as of today, Nov. 21, 2022, 12:52 PM PT. She said sign-ups since Thursday night had topped 400,000 and the app currently has 998,000 users. It later topped 1 million.
Reached for comment, Pop said Hive’s sudden traction is “a lot for [the team] to process and they’re focusing on the product itself,” when asked why she won’t name her fellow team members.
Update: as of 4 PM ET, the app has reached a million users she said. The headline has been updated to reflect this change. Also added information about Hive’s team.