Don’t be a social network like Facebook if you want to thrive
Despite the overarching reach of Facebook and Twitter, people are flocking more and more to niche services. Research by Experian shows that Between July 2011 and July 2012 use of both Instagram and Pinterest shot up worldwide, as well as other more specific social services.
In Australia, for instance, Instragram use rose a massive 362%, and a staggering 17, 319% in North America. Here in the UK the rise was over 2000%. Figures were similar for Pinterest, which saw a 798% usage spike in Australia, and 2373% in Hong Kong, and 1489% in the UK.
James Murray, digital insights manager at Experian says the success of both Instagram and Pinterest is because in part they haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel.
“The reason for their success is that they haven’t tried to be ‘another Facebook’. Instead, they both identified a gap in the market and used the scale of Facebook to reach consumers. Both networks are image based which people love – we all relate better to pictures than just words. For brands that are retailers for example, a site like Pinterest presents a fantastic opportunity to promote products in a compelling and organised way to a wide group of people across the world,” he says.
The idea that they are successful due to, not in spite of, their differences to Facebook is an interesting one. Both Instagram and Pinterest have used the networks people already have in Facebook and Twitter to tell people about their services, instead of trying to put people off using them.
Being like Facebook
Google+ (which is a bit like Facebook) is still finding it hard to gain a lot of traction, even though the numbers show it is doing better. Services not like Facebook are doing really well.
However, the Google+ numbers show there is still hope that they can compete in key markets. In the UK, usage of the network was up 476%, and in Brazil it was up 5750%. This figure is likely to be linked to Google’s decision to close down its previous social service, Orkut, which was very popular in Brazil.
News is good for other sites to. In both Australia and New Zealand, Reddit saw significant increases (177% and 107% respectively,) while Stock Twits usage rose by nearly 1000% in North America. Online gaming platform Steam Community also saw a big rise, of 124% in Singapore.
It seems very likely that more and more niche social networks will grow, as all the data out there increasingly overwhelms us. Murray agrees:
“Over the next 12 months, we expect to see a proliferation of niche social networks. Offering deeper functionality combined with a lower technical barrier to entry will mean new leaders in social media being created in a matter of days versus weeks and months.”
|Country||Social network||Description||Percentage increase of market share of visits to All Sites between July 2011 to July 2012|
|Site where users vote for what is popular or not.||177% increase
|Google+ integrates social services such as Google Profiles, and introduces new services identified as Circles, Hangouts and Sparks.||5750% increase
|Site where users vote for what is popular or not
|Social networking community which allow users to find people with skills from friends, friends of friends, local area, or the community.
StockTwits is an open, community-powered investment idea and information service.
|Community site that assists users in finding games to play, people to play against, and serves as a meeting place for friends and team mates.||124%
|Google+ integrates social services such as Google Profiles, and introduces new services identified as Circles, Hangouts and Sparks.
Network of fan clubs for fans of television, movies, music and more to discuss and share photos, videos, news and opinions with fellow fans.
Further analysis reveals that Facebook is the number one driver of traffic to Instagram in North America, Brazil and Australia where 47%, 44% and 33% of all traffic to it comes directly from Facebook.
Interestingly, in Singapore, 42% of all visits to Instagram.com are from Twitter, followed by 22% from Facebook. And upon leaving the site, social media loving Americans, Brazilians and Hong Kongers are most likely to head back to Facebook (21%, 16% and 8% respectively).
However, Singaporeans will go on to Twitter and Twitpic whereas Britons, Australians and New Zealanders will go in search of something else through Google.
Pinterest has experienced a significant increase in users over the past year, particularly in the US where it is now the fourth biggest social network used by Americans. It still has a way to catch up in the UK where it is the 14th biggest social networking site.
Singaporeans spend on average 23 minutes on Pinterest, Americans 15 minutes per Pinterest session and Brits only nine minutes. Americans and Singaporeans are more likely to visit Pinterest after having been on Facebook compared to Brits who will go to Pinterest direct from Google.
In the UK, just over a quarter (28%) of Pinterest’s visitors are new users whereas in the US it is just 13% on average suggesting that it may be close to peaking in terms of new users.