Hive Social: What is it, and can it really challenge Twitter?

What is Hive Social? (Hive Social)
What is Hive Social? (Hive Social)

As Twitter’s chaotic transformation under Elon Musk continues, there are no shortage of alternatives for those disgruntled about the direction of travel. But, with no obvious single option to coalesce around, Hive Social is suddenly capitalising, hitting one million users yesterday (November 22).

That may in part be down to its familiarity. Open up Hive Social and certain things look remarkably similar to what Twitter users are used to, but there are some big differences, too.

Here’s everything you need to know about Hive Social, and whether it can offer a more familiar alternative to Twitter.

What is Hive Social?

Hive Social first made a mini stir at the start of 2021 when its servers crashed under the strain of 130,000 users joining, thanks to a number of influencers talking it up as a fresh social-media alternative.

“Hive has everything you love about the old Instagram... ditch the Facebook-owned app and join Hive,” the influencer @thickblackthot said in a video viewed half-a-million times on TikTok.

But now it’s getting a second wind, this time as an alternative to Twitter in the early days of Elon Musk’s tumultuous leadership. On November 22, it passed one million members, which is still a long way short of the 400 million-odd registered Twitter accounts, but noteworthy growth all the same.

Is it like Twitter?

Much of its sudden popularity comes down to how similar it looks and feels to Twitter — at least at a superficial glance.

Like Twitter, relationships don’t have to be reciprocal, with the ability to follow others even if they don’t follow you. Like Twitter, you can like posts, and there’s the option to repost — which is essentially the same as retweeting.

What are the differences?

There are differences, though. The main one is that there’s no character limit on posts. While Twitter started off with 140 characters (later doubled to 280), Hive lets you post content of any length which potentially makes it less appealing for quick browsing.

That said, at the moment that’s less of an issue than it might be because it’s currently mobile only. While people may choose to post long rambles if and when a desktop version arrives, for the moment, people are limited by the discomfort of smartphone keyboards.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is the lack of algorithms surfacing content. The timeline is purely chronological, meaning everything appears in your feed in the order it was posted. That will appeal to a lot of people infuriated at Instagram and Twitter’s tendency to bury interesting content under stuff that’s caught the mysterious algorithm’s attention.

There are other smaller differences: no verified accounts, no promoted posts and a ‘discover’ section of the app for surfacing topics you’re interested in. Finally, in a retro throwback, you can pick a song to play when people visit your profile. Very MySpace.

How do I sign up to Hive Social?

Unlike Post, which currently has a waiting list to control demand, you can sign up to Hive Social right now.

  • Download the app for iOS or Android

  • Pick a username and the name that will be displayed on your profile

  • Choose a set of interests you want to see represented in the ‘discover’ section of the app.

  • You’re done! Pick a bunch of people to follow and start posting messages.