Philanthropic Platform Roar Social Offers an Alternative for Brands
Roar Social, a mobile app that targets 16 to 36-year-olds, lets brands flex their philanthropic muscle in the social media space by driving donations for charitable causes.
Backed by $10 million in seed funding, the video-driven platform aims to get brands, creators and celebrities to share their 30-second content produced on TikTok and Instagram Reels on Roar Social. People can attach the content to a specific “hero cause,” such as climate change, animal welfare or world hunger.
“We’re tapping into something that people desperately want,” said Robert Weiss, the CEO and founder of Roar Social. Roar Social’s board of advisors includes former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Jeff Raikes, John A. Lack, co-founder of MTV and Andrew Weinreich, founder of Six Degrees, among others.
People using Roar Social—so-called because it revolves around people using their voices to make a positive impact—are encouraged to contribute funds, starting from 1 cent, via virtual wallets. They can also keep track of their Roar Score, an in-app scoring mechanism that rewards them for the time spent on the platform. Donations made by the users don’t affect their scores.
Social media has become more polarized with hate speech spreading across platforms. In the first quarter of 2023, Facebook removed 10.7 million pieces of toxic content from the platform, according to Statista. Meanwhile, the Center for Countering Digital Hate found slurs against gay men on Twitter rose from 2,506 a day to 3,964 a day after Elon Musk took over the platform, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, Roar Social, with its philanthropic ethos to prioritize meaningful connections on the platform, offers an alternative to the toxic environment.
But despite Roar Social’s noble intentions, the platform’s growth will not be without its challenges, according to agency sources. These include audience scale, monetization and an already-saturated social media landscape.
Interest from Target, Starbucks and Warby Parker
Roar Social is currently inviting creators, influencers and users to join the VIP early access. Brands like Target, Starbucks and Warby Parker are expected to join the app in its early release on Apple’s App Store in August, it said.
The idea is for these brands to use Roar Social’s tools to better spend their corporate social responsibility (CSR) dollars. In the app’s early release, brands can sponsor a single piece of content or a collection of content to reach new users for donations. Other tools, which Weiss did not share, will be available during the app’s public release in January next year.
Weiss did not share the number of VIPs and creators already testing, but “87% of our early testers, which are in the hundreds, including friends and family, are actively donating,” he said.
While Roar Social will not take a cut of the donations made by users, Weiss sees revenue opportunities via advertising and brand partnerships.
“We don’t want to have traditional, boring ad units,” he said. “And we are talking to a couple of advertisers about creating some bespoke sponsorships in the very early days of the platform.”
While CSR initiatives are essential for brands, how to encourage interactions on giving platforms like Roar Social is still a question.
“I do think that brands working with creators to do social good is appealing to Gen Z,” said Grace Freeman, strategy director at ad agency Barbarian. “But it’s a large ask to expect them to migrate to a new platform to do so when they can already do that where they’re at.”
On existing platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, people can integrate donation capabilities into the platform, such as adding a GoFundMe link on an Instagram Story or Bio.
“Gen Z’s appetite for aligning with charitable brands does not equal users uploading their own money into a platform and still having to watch ads,” said Haley Feazell, group media director at Mindgruve.
As with all platforms, a certain amount of audience scale is needed for brands to invest.
“I don’t know that [Roar Social] will get the engagement that you would need to be able to drive brand partnerships and ads,” said Jess Phillips, founder and CEO of influencer marketing agency The Social Standard.
However, Weiss pointed out that in its nascent years, brands will have a strategically-light touch on the app. Instead, Roar Social will focus on giving them solutions to use their CSR dollars more effectively.
“We’ll do this through creative and experimental ad formats that resonate, not repel,” he told Adweek. “Over time, as we prove the effectiveness of these formats and build our user base, the brands will scale with us.”