What’s Fizzin’?: New social app hits the Bluff

Emma Polen | News Editor | Alex Blunk (left) and Olivia Pezich (right) promote the Fizz app.

Emma Polen | News editor

In today’s digital world, it takes a lot for a social media platform to stand out. And Fizz, they know the biz.

Fizz is an app designed for students of a specific university community to share their thoughts anonymously through short messages alongside memes and GIFs.

The app launched at Duquesne on Jan. 5 with the start of classes, and already one week later it has at least 1,000 Duquesne student users.

What is it?

Fizz first launched at Stanford University by co-founders Ted Solomon and Ashton Cofer in summer of 2021.

The “founding story” from the official Fizz website stated the app came from a need for communication in 2020: “we…noticed a lack of connection and authenticity on a campus grappling with covid restrictions.”

The app’s original name was going to be “Buzz” for the instantaneous, anonymous communication that would happen between campus peers. While the initial name did not stick, the app’s logo maintains its Bee mascot.

Fizz’s initial launch at Stanford University succeeded, and their website states that over 80% of the university’s undergrads had signed up for Fizz.

“We observed how the community came together – events became more inclusive, real-time information was readily available, and relationships were born in the direct messages,” the founding story said.

Since then, the app has spread to schools from coast to coast, and Duquesne is Fizz’s latest addition to their growing list of universities.

According to a TechCrunch, an economic technology website, Fizz hopes for 1,000 campuses on their platform by the end of 2023.

How it works

Not just anyone can join Duquesne’s Fizz community.

Fizz’s design makes the app exclusive to each school it launches at. When it opens to a Twitter-like feed homepage, only Duquesne students can see the Duquesne Fizz posts, only Stanford students can see Stanford posts and so on.

Duquesne students must verify their student email before joining the app, restricting Fizz communities to their respective universities.

Before a user completes signing up for the app, Fizz prompts them with a message claiming no affiliation with the actual university.

The disclaimer reads, “You are always anonymous on Fizz, and nothing you post will be linked back to Duquesne.”

The exclusivity of each Fizz community just makes sense, according to Duquesne Fizz ambassador, junior Kira Hutton. The Fizz posts and memes are almost entirely “specific to Duquesne,” she said.

“If another student from another university were to log on, they wouldn’t [understand],” Hutton said.

However, if a student finds something on the Fizz app exceptionally funny, there is a “share” option that allows their post to be reshared on other social media platforms that would be visible to all their followers–not just Duquesne students.

Once posted, a Fizz receives “Fizz-ups” or “Fizz-downs.” Fizz-downs subtract from the total number of upvotes, which means some posts on the app have received a negative number of votes if there were more downvotes than upvotes.

So far, Duquesne students have had mixed responses to their newest social media stage.

“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Sammi Heiser, sophomore business student, said. “I wasn’t sure how much I would like it but it’s actually really fun. I like how you can share memes on it.”

Other students are less enthusiastic toward Duquesne’s newest social media platform.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Hannah Goss, senior English major. “I don’t think there’s any use for it.”

How did Fizz do it?

Fizz’s successful launch at Duquesne is a result of a few key elements that began last semester.

First, the Fizz corporation reached out to Duquesne students through LinkedIn to look for potential moderators.

This “word-of-mouth” marketing worked for Fizz, because by launch day, they had several ambassadors to slide pamphlets under students’ dorm doors on campus.

Other ambassadors sat at a table in the Student Union handing out free donuts to students who downloaded the Fizz app. By reposting a Fizz on the app, students received a free bucket hat at the table.

Alex Blunk, junior health science major, promoted Fizz in the Union for six hours on launch day. “The app is really funny,” she said.

Her position as a Duquesne Fizz ambassador came from a suggestion from a friend. Now, she is paid by the company for promoting the app during organized times like the table in the Union, or on social media.

Duquesne Fizz ambassador Kira Hutton called the Fizz app a “little community” where students can post about “anything and everything.”

Hutton believes the draw of the Fizz app is the ability for students to post their thoughts freely.

“It’s all anonymous,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t want people to know [it’s you].”

Like any other organization that hopes to promote directly to students from campus, Fizz must follow university guidelines. And so far, Fizz has been questionable in this regard.

“Any student group asking to distribute flyers or information must have it approved in the Office of Residence Life,” said Daniel Cognella, associate director of the Office of Residence Life.

On launch day, Jan. 5, many Duquesne students residing in campus dorms woke up to a Fizz pamphlet slid under their door.

“Fizz did not have permission to distribute their information in the Residence Halls,” said Cognella.

In addition to their personable marketing tactics, Fizz offered all students $15 on launch day for sharing a positive post about the app to their own social media.

A success in marketing

Dr. Sarah DeIuliis, a professor of integrated marketing communication at Duquesne, provided an inside perspective on what made Fizz’s marketing tactics so successful–if a little unorthodox.

The personal touch with sliding pamphlets under students’ doors and the “face-to-face” interaction in the Union on launch day helped get Fizz “in front of their audience,” DeIuliis said, even though the app is based out of California

Once the word spread about Fizz from one student to another, it didn’t stop.

“We rely so much on word-of-mouth marketing because of that trust element,” DeIuliis said. “If you have a good experience with the app, and you say that to somebody that you know and trust, then it’s going to prompt them to at least try it out. And then it’s the app’s job to keep you there.”

What the future holds

While their rule-following abilities are questionable, there is no doubt that Fizz has become a university sensation.

Terry shared how her friends have already admitted they’re addicted to Fizz, some spending two hours on the app.

Fizz offers many options for students to join the conversation. A few of the categories they can choose to Fizz about are questions, confessions, and PSA’s.

One way Terry is eager to see the app used is for invitations to campus and private events, especially for freshmen who might not yet be part of groups on campus.

“Freshman year, my friends and I would be hanging out in our dorm and we would want to go somewhere,” she said. “This would have been so useful to actually know where to go on the weekends and