Mar 02 Five Upcoming Social Networks To Look Out For In 2021
This article was previously published on Forbes on February 19, 2021
Social media marketers constantly try to balance the proven practices on established social networks with strategic bets on the up and comers. When I started Ignite Social Media in 2007, the battle between MySpace and Facebook still raged and Friendster was hanging on for dear life.
For years, new networks like Plurk, Jaiku, Google Wave and others came and went. Today, things are generally more established, although the rise of TikTok in recent years shows that nothing is set in stone.
TikTok was just released in 2016. It only took four years for it to gain prominence. Few marketers were prepared for its sudden gain in popularity, though. At the beginning of 2019, only 4% of social media marketers in the United States used the platform to reach consumers.
You don’t want to be unprepared for upcoming social media networks that may gain traction in the near future. You never know which ones will thrive. Still, these five upcoming social media networks look like platforms worth watching.
5 Upcoming Social Networks to Watch
People have become increasingly concerned about the security of their mobile devices. Security issues plague some of the most popular social media platforms. Near the end of 2020, a Chinese startup leaked 400 GB of scraped data from Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. The leak affected more than 200 million people.
Signal stands out among upcoming social networks because of its focus on security. The app uses end-to-end encryption, so only the sender and receiver can view messages. Not even Signal can read what users share with each other.
Currently, Signal operates as a messaging service that lets you send photos, videos, voice messages, texts, and other files. Every communication benefits from end-to-end encryption.
The app received a lot of attention at the beginning of 2021 when Elon Musk, who has more than 46 million Twitter followers, posted a two-word tweet: Use Signal.
True to its commitment to privacy and security, Signal has not said how many users it gained after Musk’s tweet. It’s safe to say that it has at least 20 million users, though. That number could grow significantly over the next few months and years.
MeWe was founded in 2012 under the name Sgrouples, but it didn’t launch its platform until 2016. This social media platform has always tried to position itself as the “anti-Facebook” option. Despite that, it has features that function very much like Facebook. It gives members a newsfeed where they can share with their friends. MeWe also lets members send direct messages to each other.
Like Signal, MeWe dedicates itself to privacy and security. Those features made it a popular choice among demonstrators during the 2019 and 2020 protests in Hong Kong. In November 2020, the platform gained about 3 million users, largely due to the protests. At the beginning of 2021, MeWe says it has more than 16 million users.
Many MeWe members like the site because it doesn’t censor what they say. They can post about practically any topic without getting censored by the platform.
Whether MeWe can keep growing remains to be seen. It makes money by offering a premium membership. Still, marketers should track its importance and brainstorm ways they can use the platform to their advantage.
CloutHub launched in 2018 as an alternative to major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. The company says that it offers users a nonbiased platform that will not censor ideas or track user data.
Interestingly, it also positions itself as offering a “healthy user experience” by using advanced technology that keeps conversations positive and productive. Given concerns that social media algorithms intentionally foster division among people, it makes sense that some would want to use CloutHub to express themselves without bickering.
CloutHub doesn’t share much about its membership numbers. Look for statistics to emerge so you can determine whether you want to attempt marketing on upcoming social networks like this one.
As of the beginning of 2021, Clubhouse operates in private beta mode on iOS only. You can only join when invited. It plans to make its new social media platform open to the public soon, though. And an Android version is coming, too.
Clubhouse’s focus is allowing people to drop into live chats, either as participants or as an audience member. Some key points:
- It focuses on live audio instead of text.
- No long-term recordings of audio. Unless needed for an investigation around a Trust and Safety violation, audio is deleted when a room ends.
- Social Media Examiner says that Clubhouse may be “the next major social media platform.”
So far I’m hearing mixed reviews. Some say it’s like early Twitter, where you could get real access to experts. Others imply that it’s the same voices saying the same old things over and over. For marketers, it may be best to just explore until the app opens its membership to the general public.
Parler attracts users with promises that they can post what they want without getting censored. It got a lot of attention when Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms started to block accounts sharing questionable content.
Parler has had difficulties staying online since AWS stopped hosting its platform. Parler has at least a few million users, though, so it will likely find another cloud service soon. As of early February-2021, the network was back up after spending a few months offline, but no one knows the future of this social network.
Marketing on Upcoming Social Networks
Some of the most promising new social networks say that they don’t want advertising, and they refuse to sell user data. That presents a problem for marketers that want to connect with social media users through methods that are common today. But one thing social media marketers know is that tactics continually change with the times.
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