Zwift is an app for indoor cycling. Ostensibly it is to help people train and keep track of their exercise and progress. But through the clever use of gamification and social features, Zwift is proving itself to be a lot more and is a social discovery app in its own right.
Some social discovery apps put their goal of finding new friends front and centre of the experience. You could likely list cycling as a hobby on a plethora of social discovery apps, and then find people who share the interest. Zwift is an app where the hobby is put first, and the social discovery is facilitated and natural because of that shared interest.
Zwift allows you to link your indoor cycling bike to the Zwift app and join others in virtual bike rides. They can be intense training sessions with other users looking to push themselves, or they can be more social rides, with chatting back and forth. Users naturally build a community, joining the same rides again and again and riding with the same people, old friends and new. Finding the time to get on your indoor bike consistently is a lot easier than the hassle of real world bike meet ups.
Zwift is clearly recognising its importance as a social discovery app, as next year it is expanding its options around the in-game avatars that users can pick. There is going to be an overhaul to the face options and users no longer are locked into an avatar with a body type linked to the gender they chose on the app. As Zwift becomes more and more of a social experience, it won’t be surprising to see more options introduced for people to express themselves. The app already uses gamification tools to encourage users to continue to use the app. The more rides you join, the more XP you unlock to spend on virtual bikes and gear.
Hobby first social discovery is a really interesting section of the industry – and really expands the scope for a whole host of apps to be considered as social discovery experiences. Some people might find that approach more appealing for finding new friends – perhaps minimising the stigma some people unfortunately would feel when joining an app that is explicitly for finding new friends.