Websites that appeal to massive, mainstream audiences may feel inclusive at first, but they often lose the interest of users over time simply because the content shared on them is so generic
This post was written by Tomer Yosef, CEO and Co-Founder of Meetey
Despite the fact that Facebook has more than a billion users, statistics show that people are leaving this social networking behemoth in droves. Rather than quitting social media altogether, they seem to be turning to smaller, more focused social networks. The increased popularity of personalizing the Internet for users appears to be the main drive behind the rise of these specialized networks. While businesses and individuals alike can benefit from giving a few of these newer sites a chance, this new trend is a clear sign of how social media is maturing as an industry.
What’s So Special About Niche Sites?
Websites that appeal to massive, mainstream audiences may feel inclusive at first, but they often lose the interest of users over time simply because the content shared on them is so generic. People want to feel connected to those around them, and this feeling can be hard to achieve when you have hundreds of friends on Facebook all sharing content that seems random. Users often end up feeling overwhelmed, and meaningful content gets lost in the shuffle.
For this reason, specialized social networks that feature a narrow focus and allow users to quickly find and connect with like minded people have growing in popularity. The result is more meaningful content and the ability for users to actually learn something or achieve something, rather than skimming through endless streams of information they are simply not interested in knowing. Focused networks are particularly useful for businesses, since they can now target just their own audiences instead of wasting time and money sifting through massive audiences that aren’t relevant for them.
A Unique Network For Every Interest Or Industry
Today, it seems like there are social media sites for practically every interest, with new ones opening up all the time. For example, Ravelry is a social media site for people who like to knit, crochet, or generally work with yarn and patterns, while kaboodle is for shopping fans. There is even a site called Favorite Words, and as one might guess, it caters to people who want to share their favorite words and phrases with others.
However, not all of the smaller social networks cater just to hobbies or small communities. Different industries have also gotten in the game with professional networks that are more targeted than LinkedIn. For example, publishers and authors alike can share and promote books on LibraryThing, while Behance is ideal for creative people who want to show off their designs on the web.
The Future of Smaller Social Networks
With all the talk about the downfall of Facebook and the rise of the smaller social network, some people might assume that this new transition is inevitable. People are already envisioning a future where we spend all of our time jumping from one small network to another. I think that’s a bit extreme and I firmly believe that the new niche networks don’t signal the end of Facebook or other mainstream sites, but rather a new more mature period for the industry as a whole.
The niche networks need a giant like Facebook to serve as a common ground for everyone to connect with the rest of the world. Similarly, users need and clearly want smaller networks to connect around the specific interests that are unique to them. The one thing holding this trend back, is the fear of having too many network identities to manage. Yet, with the rise of Facebook Connect and other ID services, this problem doesn’t seem so scary. Add to that a whole generation that grew up online, and suddenly the idea of juggling multiple web identities seems as simple as riding a bike.
This idea, of the giants living alongside the smaller, more focused networks is perhaps the most exciting thing to happen in the social media field for quite some time. It means that users, to borrow the phrase, can have their cake and eat it too. Specialized social networks will allow us to connect in whole new ways, rediscover lost friends and find new ones, and experience the world around us in whole new ways. These networks don’t signal the end of Facebook or other giants, but rather a new chapter where social media as a whole will be all the more useful.