Surveying the social media landscape, it’s clear that authentic connections have taken a backseat to ever-more curated content. If there’s no good place online to get thoughtful emotional feedback—actual emotion, not just likes and emojis—where can people go to share intimate, deeply human experiences?
Enter Voicely, a voice-only social media app that’s breaking the mold by offering a new form of online self-expression focused on authentic, reflective and personal storytelling. Unlike typical social media that incentivizes the biggest and loudest performative content, Voicely is a compassionate community for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to share who they really are—and how they’re really feeling—in their own voices.
Voicely is redefining what it means to connect online with its emphasis on sharing genuine experiences, creating a space where people can forge authentic connections with one another and develop a healthier relationship with social media. And tech investors are jumping on this opportunity to invest in a new type of content defined by longform personal audio storytelling: Voicely received $1.5 million in angel investment last year, as they gear up to enter the U.S. market and add more features for creators and safety.
“The app offers a unique way to build a profile of yourself—with just your voice—and create a social network around your personal thoughts and experiences,” says Garry Zap, CEO and founder of Voicely. The result is a platform that values people as people. “With Voicely, your personal stories become the essence of who you are, opening a small door into your inner self.”
Empowering authentic conversations
When the pandemic hit, people turned to their social feeds to find support and connection by sharing their feelings. For Zap, this dire situation brought to light how images and vanity content weren’t as important as online communities built on personal and heartfelt experiences.
That’s when the idea for a voice-only app first took shape—a space where people could engage in authentic conversations, express their emotions, and freely share their stories without the fear of being judged. The decision to prioritize voice as the communication medium came out of Zap’s belief that our voices carry the richness of emotions that can’t be fully conveyed through text alone. Text messages don’t always accurately convey the intended emotion, especially as both words and emojis take on different meanings over time, particularly across different generations.
“I wanted to create an app where people can actually make connections based on their emotions and feelings, not just their likes,” Zap says. “Unlike messaging, where interpretations can vary, speaking with someone allows us to perceive and understand the full range of emotions of the person we’re talking to.”
The social audio market is growing rapidly, driven in part by the pandemic-induced shift towards virtual communication. In March 2021, Clubhouse gained significant attention as a social audio platform, showing the world the potential of voice-only social media. But as attention predominantly went to a select group of influencers and celebrities, average users felt overshadowed on the platform, which eventually contributed to its decline. Since then, tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have developed their own audio-based features or platforms: Twitter introduced Spaces, Facebook launched Live Audio Rooms, and LinkedIn announced plans for audio networking features. Yet in a crowded social media environment filled with bots, filters, and AI spam, platforms that prioritize genuine connection and personal storytelling are still few and far between.
“Unlike Instagram, where users share highlight reels of the picture-perfect parts of their lives, we wanted to empower individuals to express themselves through longer, more meaningful narratives,” Zap says. “Our goal was to develop a social network that catered to those who appreciate thoughtful conversations and deeper connections, challenging the norms of superficiality often found in social media.”
Democratizing content creation
Social media emerged in the early 2000s as a means to connect with friends and family online. But the social media landscape of today is almost the antithesis of that dream: Feeds are curated, themed, sponsored, and transformed into platforms where a small percentage of users receive the most attention. This transformation has created a highly competitive content creation market, making it challenging for new voices to be heard—or for people to authentically connect with each other.
Likewise, prevalent social audio apps primarily revolve around passive listening, where users listen to specific creators through podcasts or streams. But the market lacks opportunities for active participation and the sharing of personal stories among users, and businesses are increasingly realizing that people want to connect with people, not brands. That’s why Voicely is on a mission to democratize content creation by providing a space where all users can share their unique perspectives and contribute to a more diverse and authentic content ecosystem. Because all you need on Voicely is your voice, your thoughts, and your feelings, everyone can find a welcoming conversation where they can get immediate feedback.
“We believe that the true value of social media lies in the feedback and support received from the community,” Zap says. “When you create an app that fosters connections and enables people to seek help and offer support, social media becomes less about self-validation and more about meaningful exchange with your peers.”
In essence, Voicely is designed to cater to two main audiences: those who seek to help others and those who desire someone to talk to. By recognizing that individuals prefer sharing their thoughts and experiences with those who can relate to their circumstances, the platform connects people who are going through similar stages in life or facing similar issues, whether it’s in their relationships, work or family life. The audience actively decides what content is valuable to them by liking and commenting to initiate conversations with other creators.
Voicely equally recognizes the importance of relatability and privacy. Every user has the option to freely share their experiences without revealing personal information—or share under a nickname—sothey can share their stories while safeguarding their personal information.
Voicely’s innovative approach has not only redefined authenticity on social media. It has also ignited a powerful shift in users’ priorities. Ultimately, this is what makes Voicely so unique in the social media landscape: Amid the noise of likes and followers, sharing your story in your own voice makes it easier to open up about the meaningful relationships that truly matter to you.
“The surprising realization we got is that people often come back to the importance of relationships and family,” Zap says. “Promotions and work-related aspects fade in comparison to what truly matters to individuals—their partners and children.”