Tired of Facebook? Here Are 6 Up-and-Coming Alternatives

Opinion: Which of these new social networks will be the next big thing?

The amount of time we spend on social media is increasing. Teens can spend up to nine hours per day on social platforms, and nearly 20 percent of the total time spent online in the U.S. across both desktop and mobile devices is on social platforms.

Social media is shaping every aspect of our lives, and there is a social network for just about everything. While Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook Live have taken the internet by storm over the past year, new social networks continue to emerge and cater to a generation that has already grown tired of these “same old” social networks.

For many people, it’s simply become too difficult to discover content they enjoy in the endless streams and noise on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. As a result, we’re witnessing a significant shift toward social features that allow for a more curated and controlled community.

So which of these new social networks will be the next big thing? Here are six social applications we’re seeing rise up in a big way.

Amino Apps: social network for nerds and niche communities

If you’ve never heard of Amino Apps, it’s probably because the niche social network is built entirely with mobile users from age 16 through 24 in mind.

Amino Apps is a mobile app ecosystem “for nerds” made up of multiple social networks focused on niche topics that range from Pokemon to K-Pop. Users can scroll through the curated posts and chat rooms and view posts from other users they follow.

Since launching its platform—which allows anyone to create an “interest channel,” not just Amino staff—in July 2016, Amino users have created more than 250,000 communities for various topics, leading the company to raise a whopping $19.2 million from Google Ventures, Time Warner Investments and others. Some of the biggest Amino communities have 50,000 to more than 1 million members, including:

  • K-Pop Band, 150,000+ members
  • Veganism, 85,000+
  • LGBT+, 110,000+

And just how much time are Amino users spending in these communities? Amino claims that it’s more than Reddit, Pinterest, Snapchat and even Facebook.

While the young company has yet to solidify monetization plans, it remains one to watch as options could include brand partnerships, advertising or an e-commerce platform.

Raftr: social network for curating and unfolding stories

Raftr is a new social network by former Yahoo executive Sue Decker that puts stories first instead of people. The iOS app and mobile website claim to make it fun and easy for people to follow, discuss and share their interests in categories such as news, entertainment and sports.

Users follow ongoing stories, or “rafts,” and then comment on or discuss those stories with like-minded people. But perhaps what makes Raftr stand out the most is that it’s designed to discourage self-promotional noise and abuse. Accounts are tied to users’ phone numbers, rather than email addresses. And in addition to user-generated content, Raftr also creates new, topic-based content on a weekly basis with its editorial team.

The social network hopes to offer a narrower selection of curated subjects—unlike other sites such as Reddit, which provide endless streams of content on every imaginable topic.

Jerry Yang, founding partner of AME Cloud Ventures and co-founder of Yahoo, said in a release:

Social media connections are important to progressing intellectual debate, but these conversations cannot take place if they are buried by extraneous noise. We believe Raftr is the future of engaging around personally relevant and informative content.

Lego Life: a truly safe social network for kids

Lego Life is an app very similar to Instagram in appearance but designed for children under the age of 13. The goal of Lego Life is to help prepare children for social networking and provide them with a place to share photos and discuss everything Lego.

Social networks can be unsafe places for children, so the company has implemented strict restrictions on the app’s features. For example, usernames are generated from a random combination of three words (ex: DukeCharmingShrimp); commenting is limited to an emoji keyboard instead of text; and all of the emoji comments are moderated to prevent abuse or online bullying. No personal information that could be used to identify or locate the young users of the app can be shared on the social platform. There are also no private chats.

The app features ads for Lego products, and while it may never allow outside advertisers on the platform, the emoji keyboard that allows users to communicate with each other only through emojis and stickers is definitely a feature to watch.

We may start seeing more social platforms implement emoji keyboards not only as a clever way to prevent abuse or bad behavior on a social network, but also to help to connect users worldwide by overcoming language barriers.

Musical.ly: social network for music-lovers

Do-it-yourself music-video app Musical.ly was first introduced in 2014 and it is now home to more than 90 million users who are uploading an average of 12 million new videos daily. The social video sharing app has quickly risen to the top of the app charts and become one of the fastest growing social networks among teens.

On Musical.ly, “musers” can create and upload 15-second videos of themselves lip-syncing or dancing to their favorite songs.

A Warner Music spokesperson told Billboard:

Musical.ly has taken the art of lip syncing, air guitaring and dancing with friends to a new level, making it one of the most compelling apps among young fans.

The company also launched a livestreaming platform, live.ly, where its users and music lovers will be able to broadcast through the app and streams will be viewable on Musical.ly. This immersive social experience could turn the social network into a one-stop platform.

The numbers already suggest that Musical.ly is rivaling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Now big pop stars like Katy Perry are turning to the app to promote their music, bringing it further into the mainstream.

Zenly: the most accurate way to locate your friends

Zenly is out to prove that location sharing isn’t dead among younger users. The app makes it easy to share your location with friends and family with precision. And unlike the many other location sharing apps that exist, Zenly provides a far more advanced technology and many more features that teens can appreciate.

Zenly has attracted more than 2 million users, and it has been gaining popularity in schools. Students are adding dozens of friends per day, checking the app to see what their friends are up to and where the popular hangout spots are. It’s the perfect combination of a locator, social and messaging app.

Privacy concerns with Zenly are addressed with features that allow users to share or hide their location from everyone or just certain friends so users can be as sociable or invisible as they’d like.

Zenly has raised more than $22.5 million from investors like Peter Fenton, a board member of Twitter, but it remains to be seen how the tricked-out social map will maintain its spot on the home screen of so many teens.

Hype: social network that blends multimedia and live video

Days after Twitter announced that it would be shutting down looping video app Vine, Vine’s co-founders stepped in and launched Hype.

Make no mistake: The world of live videostreaming is already crowded enough. But Hype has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it stand out.

To start, users can blend live content with photos or videos from their camera rolls. They can also layer live videos with multimedia such as viewer comments, emojis, animated GIFs, music, text and more. All of these elements can be moved around the screen and added or deleted during live broadcasts.

It may sound overwhelming, but Hype may have found just the right balance between multimedia and live content to make it work for the YouTube generation. Hype is definitely one to watch as the live video arena becomes saturated and users begin seeking a place to share their creations in a more customizable way.

When a new social network breaks out and millions of users pour in, it’s worth exploring its features so that your brand doesn’t get left behind.

Do you think any of these social apps have the potential to be the next Facebook?

Albizu Garcia is co-founder and CEO of Gain, which automates the collaboration process around creative and social content for major agencies and brands. Follow him at @albizu.

Featured image courtesy of MangoStar_Studio/iStock.