The Evolution of Social Apps: Lessons from Web 2.0 and Gen Z's Digital Landscape


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 08, 2023

4 min read


The Evolution of Social Apps: Lessons from Web 2.0 and Gen Z's Digital Landscape


In today's digital age, social apps have become an integral part of our lives, connecting us with friends, family, and like-minded individuals across the globe. However, as the landscape of social networking continues to evolve, there are valuable lessons to be learned from both the past and the present. By examining the social network revolution of Web 2.0 and understanding the unique characteristics of Gen Z's digital culture, we can uncover insights that can shape the future of social apps.

Web 2.0: Simplifying Connections and Engagements

During the emergence of Web 2.0, social apps focused on building large networks and engaging users through status competitions and follower counts. However, as the number of connections grew exponentially, managing these connections became overwhelming. To address this challenge, small chat groups and algorithm-driven feeds were introduced, simplifying the process of maintaining connections and curating content.

This shift towards smaller networks or algorithm-driven platforms reflects a reactionary movement in the next generation of social apps. The emphasis is now on creating genuine connections and empowering creators to own their audiences. By monetizing directly through subscriptions, NFTs, and other innovative business models, creators can regain control over their content and forge deeper connections with their followers.

The Rise of the Creator Economy: Empowering Creators

The emergence of the Creator Economy is a direct response to the limitations imposed by existing social platforms. Creators are now seeking alternative avenues to directly connect with their audiences, leveraging NFTs, subscriptions, and e-commerce to monetize their content. As new platforms emerge, the focus will shift towards providing creators with intuitive tools to author 3D content, interactive experiences, and even incorporate their creations into games.

Moreover, the audio medium is gaining traction as a powerful tool for creators. With the advent of podcasting and audio-based social apps, creators can explore new ways to engage with their audiences and deliver immersive experiences. As these new forms of media gain popularity, they have the potential to revolutionize the digital landscape.

Gen Z's Digital Culture: Authenticity, Creativity, and Autonomy

Gen Z, the largest generation on the planet, exhibits distinct characteristics that shape their digital behavior. Authenticity and individual expression are highly valued by Gen Z, as they seek to stand out rather than fit in. This mindset translates into new forms of consumption, with Gen Z viewing consumption as access rather than possession, and as a means of expressing their unique identities.

Creativity is at the core of Gen Z's digital culture, with platforms like TikTok fostering a community of creators. By removing the barriers to content creation, TikTok has empowered a significant portion of its user base to become active creators. As the internet becomes more participatory, more individuals shift from being consumers to creators, fostering a culture of creation and self-expression.

Furthermore, Gen Z exhibits a pragmatic and self-directed approach to their lives and careers. A substantial percentage of Gen Z desires to start their own businesses and embrace non-traditional education paths. Autonomy and flexibility are key motivations, with many seeking to escape the perceived limitations of the traditional workforce. The rise of the gig economy and the pursuit of entrepreneurship among Gen Z reflect their desire to reclaim agency and shape their own destinies.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the Power of Small Networks: Consider building social apps that prioritize quality connections and meaningful interactions over sheer volume. By fostering genuine connections among users, you can create a more engaging and fulfilling user experience.
  • 2. Empower Creators: Provide creators with unique monetization opportunities and intuitive tools to unleash their creativity. By allowing creators to take ownership of their audiences and content, you can foster a thriving creator community within your social app.
  • 3. Embrace New Media Formats: Stay ahead of the curve by exploring emerging media formats such as interactive content, NFTs, and audio-based experiences. By incorporating these new forms of media into your app, you can cater to the evolving preferences of users and offer them novel and engaging experiences.


As social apps continue to evolve, it is essential to learn from the past and adapt to the unique characteristics of the present. By taking inspiration from Web 2.0's lessons and understanding Gen Z's digital culture, we can shape the future of social networking. Embracing smaller networks, empowering creators, and exploring new media formats are key steps towards building social apps that foster genuine connections, enable creative expression, and cater to the evolving preferences of users.

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