The 5 Unheard Social Networks
If someone told you there was a social network exclusively devoted to knitting, would you think they’d gone woolly, in the head?
Well there is. It’s called Ravelry, and it’s just one of several social networking platforms dedicated to niche markets, specialist functions, or which are just so obscure that you’d only know about them, if you knew about them.
Here’s a run-down of five of the best: an eclectic mix covering little-known social networks that are famous for not being famous at all – or which were dragged into the spotlight of infamy, for becoming too visible.
If you’ve got £3,000 to spend annually on a single subscription, then Eleqt may be for you. It’s essentially a rarefied Facebook, for the super-wealthy; average income for its existing membership is around £150,000.
Having the money is only half of the story. Membership is by invitation, only – with strict vetting procedures at the sign-up stage to make sure you have the right kind of job, and that your reasons for trying to join the network are genuine.
Should you make it past the gate-keepers, you’ll be connected to over 150,000 like-minded (okay; like-monied) members, and gain access to a world of information on relevant issues like the latest in high-end style and luxury goods, exclusive social events, and promotional content from trusted big-name brands.
By limiting the number of contacts with whom you can connect to 150, Path seeks to avoid the over-abundance of Friends that subscribers often have on platforms like Facebook.
As a social network, Path is more private and intimate, and imposes controls on how users may share pictures and other content with their circle of friends.
Email contacts and individuals listed in a subscriber’s electronic diary are used as the basis for recommending potential new friends – and it’s this aspect which has drawn Path into legal complications and controversy.
In 2012, the social network received a mauling in the press, after it was revealed that subscriber telephone contacts were being aggregated without the user’s consent. Further fireworks came in 2013, when information-gathering on under-age users came to light. Legal actions in the USA and a heavy fine followed.
With over 4 million users of its mobile app in Indonesia alone, Path nonetheless has a big following in the emerging economies of Asia and the Middle East. Its app has been sold to Daum Kakao, a Korean firm specialising in messaging software.
This one’s the unacknowledged powerhouse of online shopping, with over 20% of the sales market.
Polyvore is like Pinterest, for consumer products: a social platform for making users aware of the latest trends – especially in the fashion world. It’s a highly visual medium; essentially an online catalogue with social engagement thrown in. Polyvore subscribers can create “Sets”, consisting of several products which the user especially likes.
The site features “Promoted Trends“, whereby advertisers can pay to place their brand-related content into Polyvore’s Trends section, where popular styles that users are viewing or purchasing are highlighted.
Polyvore is looking to increase its modest user base with Remix, an iPhone app which identifies trending styles, and gives purchasing recommendations.
A definite case of, “Nice idea. Shame about the execution”, Secret billed itself as a “virtual confessions” platform, where users could anonymously air their most private thoughts, opinions, and feelings.
In keeping with the secrecy element, users were only given access to the app’s full functionality once they’d followed three or more friends on the network. Despite these limitations and the network’s Community Guide, disaster inevitably struck.
In 2015, the Secret network shut down, amid allegations of cyber-bullying, hacked content, and US government bans. Its mantle of secrecy has since been taken up by several other anonymous social networks, most notably Whisper, which declared a user base of 10 million on the very day that Secret shut down.
Developed by actor, author, screenwriter and producer Rob “R.B.” Botto, Stage 32 is a social media platform specifically for entertainment and related industry professionals.
Membership is free, and having created a user profile establishing your bona fides within the industry (or legitimate links to it), you’ll have pretty much unrestricted access to your peers (to whom you can issue “Invites” to join your internal Network on the site) and to Stage 32’s archive of resources.
Blog updates are issued daily to your email Inbox, and cover all creative and business aspects of the entertainment sector – from analysis of the latest music and cinema releases, to how to get crowd-funding for your independent movie.
It’s a vibrant and very mixed community, whose members are encouraged to develop new projects by interacting with each other, and sourcing talents and skills (FYI, I belong to it, myself).
Clearly, if you’ve become jaded by the likes of Facebook or Google+, there are alternatives. And if none of the above platforms caught your eye, a quick search online should reveal something you might like. Go forth, and be social!
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