5 emerging social networks PR pros must know

We’re not saying you need to use them—the last thing you need is another social network—but they should be on your radar. Here’s why.

This story originally ran on PR Daily in April 2013. Right now, your head is likely buried in projects involving established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes you need to take a breath and see what else is out there—to forecast the popular social networks of tomorrow. We’re not talking Instagram or Tumblr; you know about those sites. We’re also not suggesting Facebook is going to evaporate. It’s not going anywhere for now. But, for one reason or another, the following five sites are, at the very least, worth knowing. Medium. Quite simply, Medium is a blogging site, though its founders describe it as an extension of Twitter. “A place where you can find and share knowledge, ideas, and stories—specifically, ones that need more than 140 characters and are not just for your friends,” the site promises. The About Us page of Medium is packed with lofty language stressing that the site favors quality over quantity—a noble pursuit in the Internet age. Here’s how it works: You write a blog, which appears in one of the site’s many “collections”—such as “Advice to New Graduates” or “Airport Stories”—or on the site’s homepage. Users vote (or “recommend”) posts. How prominently a post is displayed on the site depends on how many votes it receives. The design of Medium is clean and sharp, a real pleasure to the eye. Anyone with a Twitter account can log in and start reading and voting, but you’ll need an invite from the folks at Medium to actually write something. It plans to open up the site in the future. Why you should care: Medium was created by Evan Williams and Biz Stone, whom you may recognize as the guys who started Twitter and Blogger. With that kind of track record, you would assume the site will take off. Whisper. This is an iPhone app that promises anonymity. With Whisper, users post secrets, known as whispers, which appear in the form of an online postcard. These posts are anonymous. Other users can then respond with their whispers, send messages, or simply leave a heart on the post. According to Business Insider, more than 1 million people have uploaded roughly 8 million whispers. The app has reportedly sparked controversy, even violence at some high schools in the U.S., but it’s also gone viral across college campuses. Why you should care: Last week, the app received $3 million in funding. It’s also gaining steam among college kids—the ones who will soon be invading your offices. Tech blogs such as TechCrunch are calling it the next big thing. TechCrunch‘s Ryan Lawler said last week, “If you haven’t heard of Whisper yet, get ready to.” Chirpify. This online service founded in 2011 enables users to buy products through social media sites with one click. Here’s how it works: You sign up for Chirpify—which you can do in less than 30 seconds via your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts—sync it with your PayPal account, and start shopping. Adidas, for example, has sold attire on Twitter using Chirpify. In February, Chirpify enabled Facebook users to purchase country singer Tim McGraw’s new album by simply typing “buy” in the Facebook comments section attached to the record. People can also use Chirpify to make purchases on Instagram. Why you should care: More brands will be interested in the ease of selling goods via social media. Plus, Waggener Edstrom gained headlines last year for partnering with Portland, Ore.-based agency tenfour to create Tweet-a-Beer, an app that enables people to buy someone a beer via Twitter. Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo is billed as China’s Twitter—except it has twice the users as Twitter. Brands such as Pizza Hut have embraced the site, as have celebrities, including some Western celebs like Tom Cruise, who has more than 4.2 million followers on Sina Weibo. There’s even a U.S. version of Weibo, though that’s mostly indecipherable (unless you understand Mandarin Chinese). There is at least one service, called Transfluencer, helping American brands post to Weibo. Why you should care: According to Mashable, 22 percent of China’s population of more than 1.3 billion people are signed up for Sina Weibo. According to our calculations that’s … a lot of people. deviantArt. The Internet is obsessed with images, and they help drive viral posts for brands. deviantART, founded in 2000, is the largest social network for artists and art enthusiasts. It has more than 26 million users and gets about 65 million unique page views a month. Brands have dipped their toe into deviantART. In 2011, for instance, Dr Pepper held a crowdsourcing competition among artists to show how they drink Dr Pepper. Recently, the site teamed up with comic book publishers to give amateur illustrators a chance to create stories. Angelo Sotira, the co-founder of deviantART, has said he wants to partner with other brands. Why you should care: Last week, digital marketing firm iAcquire released a study showing that 80 percent of deviantART users are 18 to 29 years old. The report suggested these late teens and 20-somethings are losing interest in Facebook for sites such as deviantART.


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