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What is Hive Social and can it become a serious Twitter challenger?
Ever since Elon Musk wheeled $44 billion in through the front door of Twitter and started making big changes, despairing users have been looking for an alternative platform to post their intellectual shower thoughts on. The two contenders at the moment seem to be Mastodon and Hive Social.
While both currently have low numbers of registered users (one million apiece compared to Twitter’s 300 million), could they eventually grow into something which causes Musk sleepless nights?
What is Hive Social?
Hive Social is a social media app that looks like a mix between Twitter and Instagram and is only available for Android and iOS devices at the moment. Presumably, the desktop version is in the works. The Android app is apparently in early access, which explains the number of issues users are experiencing with it. But since things are moving fast right now with the Twitter meltdown, it makes sense to get the Android app out as quickly as possible.
So what gives off both Twitter and Instagram vibes? If you look at the following two screens, the one on the left is your profile where your posts sit. The one on the right is the Discover tab, which is a page ripped right out of Instagram’s playbook. So instead of being just a Twitter clone, Hive seems to be taking a bit out of Instagram as well.
Like on Twitter, you can create a profile, post content, and like other people’s posts. You can also share other people’s posts on your own profile. This feature has no name, but calling it something like re-hives would make sense. Coming up with a verb to challenge ‘tweet’ and ‘retweet” just seems like a good idea.
There’s no direct messaging feature at the moment. The closest thing Hive Social has is being able to post questions on a person’s profile. But obviously, the questions are visible to everyone else, so there’s no possibility of private conversations. We can only assume that direct messaging (or some version of it) is in the works.
There's no character limit on Hive Social.
There doesn’t seem to be any indication of a character limit when posting your thoughts on Hive like there is on Twitter. At least nothing showed for me when I left a test message. However, you can mark certain posts as NSFW (Not Safe for Work), as well as specify who can reply to you.
When you post something, you can include text, images (including GIFs), and video. However, there is no possibility of image filters, so they haven’t gone full Instagram on us. You can also post polls.
Hive also has an interesting feature called Profile music, which obviously brings back memories of MySpace. As we will see later in the article, Hive is using profile music ‘slots’ to monetize the platform. While it’s good that they have found a way to monetize the business, some users may be put off by profiles autoplaying music.
What is it like using Hive Social?
Overall, Hive Social seems to be very slick and well-designed, and you can tell that a lot of thought has gone into the user experience. It is also much more stable than Mastodon, although you can still see that Hive Social is going through some bugs and growing pains. Some things have to be tapped more than once for them to work, and uploading images doesn’t always work straight away. The app also has a tendency to slow down at times, especially when you start it. This is to be expected since the app is apparently still in beta, but we hope all the bugs will get fixed soon.
Despite Hive claiming they have a million registered users, it doesn’t appear that much actual activity is going on at the moment. That’s probably my biggest issue with Hive right now. Sure, there are some posts being published, liked, and shared, but there’s not a lot in the way of actual conversation. Theoretically, this will pick up as more users join up and connect with friends on the platform.
One of the reasons for the lack of interactions could be because there is no way to find out if your contacts are on Hive. Considering Hive only has a registered million users so far, the chances are that your contacts are not there yet. But there’s no way for Hive to scan your phone’s contacts app and tell you if anybody you know is there. You could search by name, but scanning your contacts is simpler, easier, and something most other social networks can do.
Speaking of searching, the search results on Hive are a bit haphazard at the moment. Results are not separated into categories. Twitter breaks results up into people, photos, and videos, while Hive Social just sticks to the basics.
So the best way to find interesting people to follow right now is to tap on hashtags and go through the Discover/Trending tab to check out your interests. You can then find posts people have left and get to their profiles from there.
As already mentioned, there are various stability issues on Hive’s Android app as well as several bugs that make the overall experience less than ideal. For example, my colleague, Rita, has reported that if you give permissions for media inside the app, you’ll run into problems like not being able to set your display image. To fix it, you have to remove the permission and grant permissions again from Android’s App Info permission manager. However, the Android app is apparently still in beta, so this bug may well be already on Hive’s radar. It’s still inconvenient if you’re currently trying to lure Android users onto the platform. There’s no such bug on the iOS app.
The thing to bear in mind is that all platforms need a while to really get going. Unless you are a big-name brand like Google or Apple, it is always going to take time to get off the ground properly. However, Hive is off to a good start considering it amassed a lot of users in a short period of time, but there’s no telling what the future holds for it.
Why is Hive Social gaining in popularity?
It’s worth pointing out that Hive Social is not a new app. According to their website, they reached 300,000 users by February 2021. They were number one in the Apple App Store and had been featured in Teen Vogue magazine. So Hive isn’t something that suddenly sprang up when Elon Musk declared his intention to buy Twitter and everyone headed for the door.
But the Twitter soap opera is definitely what’s driving more and more people to places like Hive. The Twitter exiles are looking for a new home because they don’t like what’s being done to the old place. They’re casting around for alternatives, and Hive seems like a good place as any to hang out.
Obviously, with a million users at the moment, Elon Musk isn’t breaking a sweat about places like Hive. But if Hive can scale up its infrastructure, squash the bugs, and introduce more features to make the platform more user-friendly, then who knows? Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Twitter. Anything is possible.
So what’s good about Hive Social?
The good thing about Hive is that there is no personalization algorithm, and there are no adverts. You get a chronological feed, and the platform seems to be monetized by unlocking slots on their profile to showcase their favorite music. A second slot is 99 cents, and the next ones are $1.99. There’s also no character posting limit like there is on Twitter.
You can edit your posts on Hive Social.
Hive Social also lets you edit your posts, something which Twitter users had been waiting years for. When they finally did get it, they discovered they had to pay $8 a month for the privilege. Hive Social is making that free from the get-go. Hive has provided something that made Twitter procrastinate for years.
One thing is for sure is that Hive is a lot easier to use than Mastodon. Hive tries to emulate Twitter as much as possible. Mastodon, on the other hand, is confusing the heck out of people with “picking a server.” Who’s got time for that? Out of Mastodon and Hive, I would pick Hive as a new home for former Twitter users. It just feels nice.
How to join Hive Social
If you fancy getting into Hive and kicking the tires around a bit, then just click on one of the links below and download the app to your Android or iOS device.
Once you get into the app, sign up with your email and follow the onboarding screens. You need to select at least five interests to start. You’re then invited to connect to either Spotify or Apple Music for your profile music. You can enable the ability for people to ask you questions on your profile, and of course, you can edit your profile to add images and links. However, the Android app does have that image-uploading bug, so you may encounter some issues at this point.
I’m not quite sure why people need to add their Zodiac sign to their profile, though, but you do have the choice of whether or not it’s visible.
This is an Android app bug and will presumably be fixed soon.
No, currently, Hive Social is not available on the desktop. It can only be accessed on the app for iPhone and Android.
Yes, Hive Social is free of charge to install and use. There are, however, microtransactions in the form of “slots” you can purchase to showcase your favorite music on your profile.
If you decide that Hive Social is not for you, there is an account deactivation option in the account settings.
Hive claims to have at least one million followers as of November 2022.