There is a shift taking place in the world of social networks online. While the media hasn’t been around in the mainstream for long online in the form of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, we are seeing a significant change in people’s behaviours around how they use these networks (or stop using them) and their adoption of newer, niche social networks.
Facebook and MySpace allowed people to connect in a public manner online in a way where they could share many types of media with each other – text-based status updates, photos, links, videos and more. These networks serve as an all purpose place to share things which represent who you are or tell your life’s story in a way you want your peers to see you.
As we progress in our use of online social networks a shift is occurring where people are gathering to niche services such as Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, Branch and more which serve one specific need whether it be intelligent discussion or imagery in a social way, allowing people to comment, Like, share, repin and other online social actions around these niche areas of human connection and interest.
I believe more and more of these niche social networks will appear in the next couple of years as people have Facebook for their catch-all needs and the niche social networks all integrate with Facebook. People participate around their specific interests, whether these are photography (Instagram), music (Soundcloud) or something else. While Facebook has allowed us to connect with people we know in the real world in an online space, the return to discussing areas of interest with strangers online just as we used to in forums before the advent of mainstream social media with MySpace and Friendster, and then sharing these social actions on Facebook if the user decides.
People aren’t as scared of speaking with stranger online as they were 10 years ago. It is now the norm and people understand the dangers and risks associated with it. More and more we see real world meetups of these online communities people build in the form of Tweet-ups, Instagram meetups where a group who met online will go on real-world photo tours together. People’s interests are what bring us together as communities offline and online and I believe this behaviour will hold true in the growth of more and more niche social networks in the near future. What do you think?