Jakarta. Most social media users befriend or follow other friends or popular figures. As a result, the circle of friends across platforms stays the same. Plus, there is a competitive atmosphere on some platforms because people race to attain more followers.
Social networking app Yogrt, only available in Indonesia, wants to provide a different experience. By being location-based, Yogrt users will see posts by nearby users on their timeline and are even able to chat with each other.
"We emphasize equality. Users can interact without seeing who is popular and without being confirmed to follow each other first," Yogrt country marketing director Damayanti Arief told the Jakarta Globe in a recent interview.
There is a "follow" feature, but it is predominately used to keep track of other users as opposed to being a popularity contest.
Yogrt’s other features include groups, games, personality quizzes and live content whose "talents" (presenters) are selected by Yogrt users.
"They have to be communicative. They have to be able to let people in and talk to them. Also they must have a skill or interest, such as playing a musical instrument, cooking, being a foodie, or doing sports, so there’s something to share with the viewers," Damayanti said.
Created in 2014 by Singapore’s Kongko Digital and Indonesia’s Aksanet Bumi Nusantara, the Yogrt app has been downloaded by over seven million people across 80 Indonesian cities, mostly from the greater Jakarta area.
According to a study published in November, 91 percent of the app's users are millennials aged 17-36. Eighty-two percent of them are not married, and 65 percent are high-school educated.
Yogrt calls them "grassroots millennials" because 70 percent of them have a household income of under Rp 5 million ($350).
Yogrt was also able to map out the values that matter the most to its users by using Shalom Schwartz’s 10 basic values and "Portrait Values Questionnaire" as part of the user survey.
Universalism, which has to do with kinship and togetherness, came out at top, followed by benevolence and self-direction.
On the other hand, achievement and power were at the bottom of the list. According to prominent sociologist and Yogrt co-founder Roby Muhamad, the fact that Indonesian millennials see individualistic success as the least important is unique because that is the characteristic most Western millennials prize.
This also contradicts the common perception that millennials are challenge seekers. Even though self-direction value was high, they lack stimulation.
"This means that although these people are open to new experiences, if it is too risky in any way, they won’t take it," Roby said.
Additionally, the survey also includes a questionnaire to find out users’ interests. Their main topics of interests cover music, sports, film, romantic relationships and religion.
"What it means by religion is not the doctrines, but the social activities related to it. There are people who like to go to concerts, but there are others who like to join a pengajian [Koranic study group], so religion here is a social lubricant," said Roby, who teaches at University of Indonesia (UI).
These millennials are not keen on discussing politics, nationalism or literature.
Sixty-nine percent of them prefer to learn about the latest news from social media, while 56 percent get their news from television. News sites, friends and nuclear family follow behind.
Roby noted this as another unique result because there are no formal institutions such as schools or religious institutions included in the five main news sources.
On the internet, 67 percent of the survey respondents said that chatting and using social media, in general, are their favorite activities, followed by browsing, streaming music and watching films. Only 15 percent like to shop online.
The study concluded that grassroots millennials use Yogrt simply to foster social relationships, be that finding friends or romantic partners. They do not really care about elevating social status or intellectual pursuits.
"We shouldn’t think that this is all trivial teenage things. Remember that this is grassroots we’re talking about. For them, [socializing] is already an achievement. Hanging out with friends is something expensive to them … It is humans’ fundamental need to socialize. In the very much capitalistic world, that costs a lot, and Yogrt has made it affordable," Roby said.
To cater to those users, Yogrt has held some offline activities such as Layar Tancep Night (Open-Air Cinema Night). Taking place last October in Jakarta, the event screened "Sama Juga Bohong" and "Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?" (What’s Up With Love?). Over 700 people attended the event.
During last year's Idul Fitri celebrations, Yogrt organized a competition called "Pesta’in Sekampung" (Party for the Whole Village). Users were invited to tell a story about their village to win a halal bihalal (gathering after Idul Fitri holidays) event sponsored by Yogrt.
Sukiyana from Pringombo Village in Yogyakarta won the contest. Around 4,000 people attended that event.
"Although we hosted a competition, it wasn’t about individual competition. We seriously paid attention to the psychological characteristics of our users. Perhaps they’d be reluctant to compete for personal gain, but not if the prize went to their community," Roby said.
Outside of official events, members of Yogrt groups often initiate meet-ups on their own. Many have taken that further by making group uniforms or establishing an organizational structure for the group.
Now there are over 40,000 community groups on the app.