Jan 10, 2013 (04:01 AM EST)
10 Social Networks For Special Interests
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
It could be argued that the most popular social networks are becoming victims of their own success. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have become synonymous with social networking, and they have done so by providing big, broad platforms on which everyone and his or her brother participates. There's a lot of value in such volume, but there is also a lot of virtual noise. For users looking to streamline their social networking experience, vertical or specialized social networks may be the way to go.
Vertical social networks are not new, but we have been seeing more and more pop up. We have also seen increased user interest in vertical social networks, as platforms such as Facebook and Twitter become social jacks of all trades.
Many vertical social networks are industry-based. Doximity and PatientsLikeMe, for example, focus on the healthcare industry. Honest Buildings is designed for the real estate and building trade, while Learnist and the like are geared toward education, and nets such as GovLoop speak to people in the public sector. IdeaPlane is a bit broader in scope -- designed for organizations in highly regulated industries -- but it appeals especially to users and organizations in the finance industry.
IT Central Station is an example of a social network geared toward a specific profession -- IT workers -- and provides a forum for open and focused discussion on the particular issues and challenges that IT professionals face.
There are also social networks geared for particular age groups. Grom Social, for example, is designed for the tween crowd. There are lots of social networks geared toward young people, but Grom Social is unique in that it was designed by a young person (11-year-old "Zach") for young people.
Other specialized social networks play to people's sensitivities. For example, Social Number is one of several "anonymized" social networks. These platforms enable users to collaborate without giving up any of their personal information. Indeed, with Social Number, users are identified by a number instead of a user name.
Finally, there are the really specialized social networks -- the ones that are focused on a particular thing. One recent entrant into this category is Catmoji, a social network designed by cat lovers for cat lovers. No longer do you have to search YouTube for those cute cat videos, or get distracted from other work when friends on Facebook send you the latest cat-based meme. Now users can cut right to the cat chase and get more cat photos and videos than they probably ever imagined exist.
The lesson here is that there is a social network for every taste and demographic these days, and social businesses should take notice of the potential opportunities these very focused audiences provide.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
IT Central Station is a social platform designed for IT professionals, focused on sharing product reviews. Users can post anonymously or under their own names.
Learnist, from test prep company Grockit, has been described as Pinterest for education. Learnist enables users to add Web resources -- such as blogs, feeds, videos and podcasts -- to Learnboards to quickly create lessons and units.
Honest Buildings is a site that connects real estate professionals and building service providers. "Honest Buildings is streamlining the costly and inefficient process building owners and managers have to find service providers for their next project or transaction, and in turn accelerates the adoption of high performance buildings," said one user on the site.
Doximity provides a social network for physicians, who require a secure and HIPAA-compliant platform on which to collaborate and connect. Physicians' identities are verified through a three-step credentialing process; once authorized, they can connect with colleagues and collaborate via secure communications.
GovLoop is a social network platform for government. Its mission, according to the site, is to "connect government to improve government." GovLoop's 50,000-plus members can connect with colleagues and access public-sector-focused blogs, discussion forums, a jobs board and a vendor directory, among other things.
Geared toward organizations in highly regulated industries such as finance, IdeaPlane lets users build profiles, update statuses, find expertise, participate in groups and integrate news feeds -- all in a secure environment. IdeaPlane, which looks and feels much like Facebook, was recently acquired by document collaboration software firm Workshare.
Founded in 2004 by three MIT engineers, PatientsLikeMe is a site on which members can share treatment and symptom information, as well as find -- and participate in groups and discussions with -- people who have similar conditions.
Social Number is one of a growing, well, number of social networking sites designed to let users collaborate anonymously. On Social Number, users are identified by unique handles comprising six to 10 digits. Social Number, which just launched in December, describes itself as a site where people can express themselves freely without having to share personal details.
There are many social networking sites geared for young people. Grom Social is unique in that it was created by a young person -- 11-year-old Zach. On the Grom site, Zach explains that the idea for the network came about after he had set up an account on an adult social networking site. Zach's father found out and made Zach deactivate the account. After finding existing social sites designed for kids too "childish," Zach set out to create his own, and Grom -- which includes a "bad word" filter, among other safety features -- was born.
How many collective hours have you spent watching cat videos shared on Facebook? Now we can get rid of all pretense and just go right to a new social network dedicated to cats, Catmoji. The site is designed as "a place for cat lovers to share and discover cat pictures and videos by expressing themselves through emoji." The site looks a lot like Pinterest, and users can share cat images and stories, as well as create "catvatars" and discover content based on cat emotion (happy, funny, sad and so on).