Facebook is expected to have One Billion accounts in 2012, whereas Twitter is estimated to be half that size. It’s not as if niche social networks like Pinterest and Instagram will replace these giants. They will actually benefit from Facebook and Twitter by integrating their services with them.
Niche interest based networks aim to get down straight to the point. They want to capitalize on what users are really interested in sharing, not knowing what their friend is having for lunch. Based on categories like industry, passion, shopping, Q&A with experts and lots more, only more niche social networks are going to see the light of the day. Here are a few of them that have flourished well.
"Connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting" – goes Pinterest’s mission statement. Does this catch your attention? Launched in 2010, Pinterest certainly has caught the attention of almost 5 million users since December 2011. It is essentially a category based pin board style photo sharing cum social networking platform that allows users to share themed images, collections and ideas easily. With functions similar to Twitter, users can ‘pin’ their photos on their pinboards on which anyone can comment. Other users can further re-pin it, build ideabooks and digital scrapbooks.
Time magazine listed Pinterest in its "50 Best Websites of 2011." Especially popular amongst women, Pinterest is great for making customized design handbooks and then transferring the same to mobile to use it on-the-go.
If you are addicted to IMDB, you would love Flixster. A free community site for movie buffs, Flixster provides information on everything you need to know about movies – from which theaters movies will release in to gossip to actor profiles to fan clubs to movie news, video clips and interactive forums and quizzes. Flixster has also been the parent site for Rotten Tomatoes, a popular movie critiquing platform, since 2010. In August 2010, Flixster hit 20 million combined mobile application downloads and has ranked as the top movie app on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Flixster has also developed apps for Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Orkut.
As smartphones penetrate their way into the Indian market, Instrgram is only going to become a stronger way to communicate. Launched in 2010, Instagram works on the principle of allowing users to add filters and do some fun on-the-spot editing of images taken from the mobile phones. Users can share these images on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter networks.
Having crossed about 12 million members since November 2011, Instagram gets a one up over Facebook and Flickr – you don’t have to wait to get to your PC to edit images before sending them out to your friends.
“It allows people to tell stories visually, with simplicity and immediacy. It’s a mobile-first platform, unlike Facebook, and meets those expectations. It is an elegant solution that makes people feel like artists.” – Jason Koetz, New York-based social media analyst and independent media management consultant. [Source]
SoundCloud too, is one of the interesting niche social networks to follow. Launched in 2008 with original aim of helping musicians to share their work and recordings with each other, SoundCloud later converted into a full fledged publishing platform which allows musicians to distribute their music tracks. Cashing in on the omnipresence of smartphones, users can record, edit, share and embed sound files to almost any website. Another unique feature of this niche interest based network is that users can comment on specific parts of the audio, in addition to the whole. Artists and technicians can upload their sound file music with a distinctive URL. The SoundCloud app automatically tweets every sound file uploaded to your Twitter account. All these features make this niche network a great collaboration and business tool which is effective in minimizing costs. Mint reported that SoundCould reached 5 million members in 2011.
Looking closer home, Ibibo (an acronym for iBuild and iBond) has seen massive popularity since the time it was launched in 2007. A social network at large, Ibibo caters to a lot of specific interest groups in the Indian context. Ibibo promotes social networking though Indian gaming, photography competitions, building modeling portfolios (iFreshface), allowing users to splash their message across Ibibo though a premium SMS service (iScream) and much more.
The Deccan Herald quoted Rahul Razdan, President Product and Operations, Ibibo stating that Ibibo is niche because it offers simple customization like variations of a card game played in Diwali, games with typical Indian ambience like cows on the road and current affair themes like the Adarsh scam.
Do you think interest based nice social networks are the new rage?