The New Social Networks: Which Ones Will Be Useful for PR Pros?

As Instagram continues to lose members, Twitter decides whether to go public, Google+ screams “Notice Me!” and Facebook tries to resist the urge to piss off its members by endlessly tinkering with its formula, media pros wonder whether a new social network will emerge in the coming months and years to become a key communications tool.

HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes recently posted a list of seven up-and-coming networks that might gain influence in 2013, so we thought we’d review it to see whether any of these shiny new toys might prove valuable to PR professionals.

The list:

  • Pheed: It’s like the pay-per-view version of Instagram, and it’s only relevant to (famous) people with pictures/videos that the public won’t mind paying for. The question: can everyday brands figure out how to create streams that will inspire the public to agree to subscription fees? It might work if they’re American Idol–or if they post nude celebrity photos. Otherwise we can’t see it happening.
  • Thumb: An in-a-minute crowdsourcing app that allows users to give your pics/ideas the thumbs up/down treatment and answer crucial questions like “Doesn’t this taco look delicious” or “Should I wear this top with these jeans”? We could see this one being very useful to brands that want to gauge the public’s response to active social media campaigns or ask fans for their impressions of a new products or designs.
  • Medium: An invitation-only network focused on showcasing honest-to-God content, or carefully written editorial pieces rather than the usual mashup of cat photos, celebrity videos and spam. Members must be invited to join, but everyone can read the material posted–meaning this one could potentially work wonders for magazines, literary publishers and other highfalutin brands who want to offer the public a peek at their latest masterpieces.
  • Chirpify: This one is interesting–an online retail app operated entirely through Twitter accounts. Most retailers haven’t quite begun selling on Twitter and Instagram yet, but Chirpify would allow users to purchase items immediately simply by clicking “buy”–no carts, no credit card forms, no “enter your address here”. This might get dangerous.
  • Flayvr: Like a more organized form of Instagram, this app automatically arranges the photos and videos on your camera into folders based on date and location. Anyone tasked with monitoring the visual presence of a fashion or, say, event promotion brand would probably find this app very helpful (as long as your professional pics don’t mix with your personal ones).
  • Chirp: This strange little app shares content via sound–it causes your phone to emit a tone that then immediately broadcasts your content to every other phone within range. We could see Chirp being useful during events. If, for example, you’re promoting a client at a conference or concert, then you could announce a drink deal or new product display and quickly get the attention of everyone else in the room.
  • Conversations: HootSuite’s newest product is like a group version of Facebook chat–multiple users can set up ongoing live discussions instead of sending emails back and forth or signing in to another annoying GoToMeeting event. Holmes says that it could help “marketing teams to coordinate campaigns”, and we think he’s onto something. It could be a good tool for, say, a PR team that needs to discus a client’s newest challenge or review campaign pitches but doesn’t have the advantage of being in the same place at the same time.

What do we think, PR pros: Can you imagine using any of these new tools in campaigns or client relations over the coming year?