When ten young D.C. residents who'd become friends over TikTok decided to organize a casual meet-up at the National Mall in July, more than 200 people showed up. Now, months later, they are the founders of DMV Besties, a community of young adult friendship-seekers more than 700 strong.
Why it matters: When COVID-19 sent the globe into lockdown, millions of people were forced to reconfigure friendships and community building in a largely virtual environment. DMV Besties helps to fill that void in a city that has seen a decade of population growth and is also recovering from the ongoing pandemic.
Zoom out: TikTok and its eerily accurate, interest-based algorithm helped DMV Besties grow its massive following.
- TikTok recently announced that it has surpassed 1 billion users.
- Bumble BFF, a pivot for the traditional dating app that now includes a feature for platonic friendship matches, tells Axios that in the first three months of 2021, the average time spent on the app grew 44% for women and 83% for men globally.
- Additionally, more than 90% of women who began using the app in March of this year found at least one friendship match, the company says.
The latest: DMV Besties has since expanded to Instagram, Discord, and TikTok and group organizers are planning more events.
- Their second meet-up at The Sandlot in Georgetown attracted a couple of hundred people and some local vendors.
- The Discord includes subchannels for people in their 30s, people from DMV suburbs, and college students. Members have hosted weekly board game nights and dinner parties.
- The group has already received inquiries from Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina on replicating its model.
What they're saying: "Even if you don't feel comfortable at these big events ... you're finding a home somewhere ... because anybody can create a channel or subcategory for their interest group," founding member Sarah Aillon says of the Discord group.
Additionally, DMV Besties isn't just about friendship; group organizers want to partner with more local vendors to come to events or donate funds to non-profits or mutual aid organizations.
- "There's obviously this ongoing conversation of influencers taking from their areas and not necessarily putting anything back. We don't want to do that," Aillon says. "We want to ensure that we are engaging appropriately and not commodifying D.C. in any sort of way."
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