12 Most Interesting, Original, and Outright Strange Niche Social Networks
One of the biggest trends of the last twelve months or so in social media is the evolution of niche social networks. The recent sale of Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion epitomizes just how popular these niche networks have become, and judging by the volume of them appearing, this trend has safely evolved into a mainstream part of the online world.
While there are the obvious giants in the so called “niche” arena such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, the intention of this blog post is to stick to the smaller, unique networks you may not have heard of yet. With that in mind, here are 12 of the most interesting, original and outright strange niche social networks that I’ve come across in the last few months:
Still in beta mode, but with anyone allowed to request an invite, MeARKET takes the interesting step of combining the stock market with social media. It provides investors with a go-to place to see what their friends are investing in and allows them to drive the discussion of ‘why’. CEO Colton Daines claimed in an interview with TechCrunch that MeARKET taps into the social graph in a very different way than social investing sites like StockTwits and Wikinvest, because it’s not focused on discussions among professional investors and analysts, but is instead about sharing knowledge with your friends.
If you like to play the markets and are interested in where your friends are placing their hard-earned dollars, this is the network for you.
2. Baby Gaga
Baby Gaga is a community where thousands of mothers, mothers to be, and women trying to conceive, are sharing their experiences all in one place. Whether it’s reassurance, answers or friendship, it’s a go-to arena for motherhood.
Less of a traditional “niche” because, let’s face it, we all love food, Foodie is a place where anyone who enjoys their food — from amateur to expert — can come together to talk about one of their favorite past times.
One of my favorite niche networks, and probably the one on this list you have already heard of, Gentlemint is known as the male version of Pinterest. Almost identical to its counterpart, Gentlemint describes itself as “a mint of manly things” and is a platform I would strongly advocate as worth checking out.
Who says social media is just for youngsters? 55-alive is a site where the older generation can get together to find companionship, advice and even romance.
Ravelry is a free community site for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners and dyers. Founded in 2005, it’s one of the earliest niche networks, and currently claims to have around 400,000 members. Ravelry truly defines what niche networking is all about, as the founders claim to have created Ravelry in order to fill a niche they themselves were looking for — “a centralized, easy place to find and share information about patterns, yarn and the like”.
Possibly the most interesting niche network I’ve come across, REMcloud allows you to anonymously share your dreams and discuss them with other users. If you’ve ever woken up after a dream and thought to yourself “what in the heck was that all about?” — this is the place for you to find out.
8. Vampire Freaks
With the homepage call-to-action of “Join the web’s largest community for dark alternative culture”, what you see is pretty much what you get with Vampire Freaks. As of April 2012, the self-professed “freak count” was at over 1.6 million, and with engaged forums and conversational users, it looks like there’s still a lot more to come from these guys.
Respectance takes social networking to a deeper level with the capacity for users to upload tributes and memories to their loved ones that have passed away. By providing a platform and a community for such memorials, Respectance is basically a form of grief counseling. It allows those who are grieving to connect with people who have been through similar situations, ensuring that no one has to go through tragedy alone. A very interesting idea and an impressive use of social media for good.
Dogster claims to be “a fresh way to look at digital media in the pet space” and offers itself as a forum where dog owners can pose questions and seek advice. Not only are there other dog owners there to respond, but also a number of experts who can offer a more professional answer. Next time you’ve got a question about man’s best friend; this is the place to go.
Motorheads listen up; I’ve found your paradise. Motorpia is a huge arena for anything and everything to do with cars, motorbikes, boats and planes. The strength of the motor community offline is clear, and this network simply allows that enthusiasm to move online — making it bigger, better and more interactive.
Saving the best until last? Yep, possibly. UFOSocial epitomizes what’s great about the web — allowing enthusiasts of the most indiscriminate topics to connect and converse about their hobby. Photos, video, groups, discussion boards (and even a gamification strategy to drive advocates) is what makes this website so interesting. Users share their stories and their opinions in the hope to find proof for one of the most highly contested topics around — whether life exists on a different planet.
Whatever your hobbies and wherever your passions lie, there’s sure to be a niche network for you. As the above examples suggest, there is no topic too controversial or unusual for the internet. While social network giants such as Facebook and Twitter will no doubt remain at the pinnacle of the web, niche networks seem to coming to the fore and really making a name for themselves.
What about you? Are there any niche networks that you’re an avid user of?
Featured image courtesy of saravdv via Creative Commons.