A new social networking app called IRL – which stands for “In Real Life” – specializes in group communication for Penn State students and students nationwide.
“Our goal is to bring people together through groups, events and general community engagement,” said Alexandra Kostpoulou, content strategist for IRL.
A cross between the groups on Facebook and GroupMe, IRL provides a space where users can join groups to socialize with their peers and offers a social calendar, Kostpoulou said.
“[In the Social Calendar], you can create groups and invite your friends, then you can create events and add them to this group chat, ”Kostopoulou said.
Once again an event platform, Kostopoulou said IRI is emerging as a group discussion platform.
“In these difficult times due to COVID, it is very important that people have some kind of online community,” Kostopoulou said.
Penn State students can use their specific university-issued email address to register, which provides students with access to a dedicated Penn State platform in the app.
After users join the Penn State page, students can see all of the other students who are also part of the Penn State page, according to Kostopoulou.
“You will be able to see the events going on at Penn State which are populated by the current [IRL] ambassadors, ”Kostopoulou said.
Users can create their own group chats, events, or follow other members they know in the app. By adding themselves to Penn State’s community page, users can see what events other members are attending, according to Kostopoulou.
“Our goal is that every college has its community in the same place,” said Kostopoulou.
Similar to Instagram, there is an explore page where users can see events and communities that are of interest to them. As IRL is in partnership with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, Meetup, YouTube, Twitch and Spotify, users can view events from these platforms.
“In general, you can discover the communities that interest you,” Kostopoulou said.
Maeve D’Andrea, IRL student ambassador at Penn State, said she uses social media and outreach posts to promote herself in the Penn State community.
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“Hopefully as the semester goes on more people will download it,” D’Andrea (senior publicity) said.
D’Andrea said she believes the features of IRI are currently best suited for students.
“Classes can use it, different clubs can use it,” D’Andrea said. “I feel like it’s more of a student and college environment.”
D’Andrea also said it was a good tool to use for freshmen in college, as she “didn’t always know what was going on” when she was new to college. This app is a good opportunity to address this issue, she said.
Jessica Cohen, deputy account manager at ASTRSK PR – the public relations agency representing IRL – said there are many schools across the country on IRL.
Founded by CEO Abraham Shafi and launched during the pandemic after seeing a gap in the market, Shafi brought the concept of IRI to life with the aim of bringing together people with similar interests, Cohen said.
Cohen said if she had had this app while in college, she said she thought it would have been “so beneficial” to connect with other students.
“There are so many different events going on that I think this could be a really cool way for kids to get in touch with each other.”