Twitter is addictive and even your parents are on Facebook, but the social networking world is bigger than just the mainstream sites. Of the thousands of contenders that try to become the next multi-billion dollar web-buster, a select few really offer something interesting or unique. Here are five of the best social networking sites that you’re probably not using yet, but that you should absolutely sign up for.
For those who like to network on the go, foursquare is the hybrid child of a geolocation tool and a social network. The network’s angle is precise: You interact with locations and network with people based on your locations.
This means that foursquare is a network built for mobile devices. You can discover businesses or attractions that are nearby, compete to be the “mayor” of locations you frequent, or even get discounts posted by local companies. While you can adjust the privacy settings to limit your information sharing, the standard “check in” will share your current location with friends. For those active on the network, foursquare can work as an on-the-go, spur-of-the-moment meetup creator.
The idea of Scoop.it is sharing meaningful ideas, which provides a great alternative for those tired of reading a Twitter stream full of updates on what friends are eating for dinner or when they’re at the gym. Scoop.it allows users to quickly create attractive online magazines that organize multiple online resources and thus facilitate an ongoing conversation on a brand or topic.
You can quickly add your own content to magazines you’ve curate, use a browser extension to quickly add items to your existing magazines, and quickly share your content with friends.
If you like Facebook and Twitter, you’re not going to find a whole lot extra on Netlog. There are a few notable differences, however. First, while the site allows you to sign up as long as you’re over 13, the site has been clear that its target audience is college students. Netlog also provides some extra privacy features that prevent information from broadcasting publicly without user permission.
It’s not what Netlog adds that makes it different, however. Rather, Netlog sets itself apart by eliminating one standard component: advertisements.
One great disadvantage of the digital world is that it’s, well, digital. While the social networking tools we’ve created are often perfect for sharing information or funny cat pictures, they are limited in how effectively they help us create real world connections. That’s where Meetup makes a difference.
Meetup helps users find group get-togethers in their area. You can search for groups and meetups based on common interests and location. For those looking for a flesh-and-blood connection, Meetup is well worth checking out.
The idea of a “private social network” may seem counter-intuitive, but Nextdoor has a rationality that makes a lot of sense. Rather than trying to connect you with a global world that you never actually interact with, Nextdoor helps neighborhoods form deeper and more rewarding connections with those living close by.
Nextdoor emphasizes privacy and security. According to the company founders, the site was built to help people retain a sense of a local community.
These five networks are among the most innovative and polished on the market, and each deserves your attention. Do you have a favorite network that isn’t in the mainstream and didn’t make our list? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.