Smaller, Closed Social Networks Gain Popularity

April 27, 2012

The Guardian recently reported, “Facebook, Google Must Adapt as Users Embrace ‘Unsocial’ Networks,” claiming the need and desire for social networks that go beyond the giants.

According to the article, smaller, closed networks are gaining popularity by giving users more control over what they share and who they are sharing with. These new social media outlets also set limits on who you listen to; for example, social network Path restricts you to 150 friends and Pair builds bonds between only two users. The article asserts:

“This growing interest in smaller, ego-boosting, privacy-controllable networks was inevitable, as social media reached mass scale. Two-thirds of Americans now use social platforms, according to Pew, and the majority say ‘staying in touch with current friends and family’ is the main reason why. Only 9 percent of respondents told Pew, when asked, that “making new friends” was a motivation.

For marketers, of course, this is a challenge. Word-of-mouth messaging spreads more slowly if audiences are closing off digital circles. For this reason, only Facebook has succeeded among social networks in generating significant advertising revenue—$3.1 billion in 2011—because it has resorted to old-school ad formats.”

We are cheering for the numerous alternatives to Facebook and Google and we applaud those that respect the need for privacy and intimacy. Although it presents a challenge for marketers, they may have to try something a bit more aggressive.

Andrea Hayden, April 27, 2012

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