While some continue to question the motivation behind Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram, the reason is suddenly becoming clearer as consumers increasingly move toward more private, smaller social media networks in an effort to protect their privacy and maintain greater control over their personal information. As a result, the major social networks will need to respond to this trend by allowing consumers to establish tighter networks, while marketers will have to figure out how fewer personal connections will affect a brand’s ability to get “viral” exposure. For a look some of the smaller social networks capturing consumers’ attention today, Businessweek.com compiled the following list of online alternatives.
1. Pinterest – Explosive momentum for this image-focused service rapidly made it the third most popular social media network this year. While other social networks make communication their primary purpose, Pinterest emphasizes personal interests and likeminded sharing.
2. Path – With a limit of 150 friends, this social network appeals to users who want a smaller circle of higher-quality contacts, yet still want the ability to post videos, images, and locations to the major social media networks.
3. Pair – Providing a new spin on instant messaging, this social network offers the smallest social circles by enabling only two users to share their photos and videos while keeping a timeline of their past activity.
4. Instagram – Instagram, just purchased by Facebook for $1 billion, is mainly a photo-broadcasting tool that allows users to make their photos look more polished and stylized. While it may be an open network, its explosive growth demonstrates that its users are more focused on their photos than their friendships.
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5. Springpad – This unique application allows users to take notes on items of interest and save them by mobile or Web. Then, users can share their personal notes with people they trust, in complete privacy.
6. Special Segments of Major Social Media Networks – Realizing that bigger is no longer better, the social media giants have started adapting their sites to meet users’ specific needs. Facebook now has a streamlined format with enhanced privacy features, Twitter allows users to view updates from select lists of people, and Google+ offers a “Circles” feature so users can share different things with certain groups.
Now that social media users are making privacy a priority, marketers will need to come up with strategies for maintaining and increasing consumer communication despite smaller social circles. While some say this was the inevitable backlash against the infiltration of social media, others prefer to see it as the natural evolution of our ever-changing digital age.
At MDG, our 360° marketing approach uses just the right mix of traditional and online media to reach your marketing goals. While some industries may fare better on TV and others online, we strive to create a balanced approach where digital and traditional marketing efforts support each other and your message is tailored to the medium.
Read more at Businessweek.com.