Facebook’s rather shaky flotation on the NASDAQ stock market, Pinterest’s amazing rise from the bottom of the pile, Twitter and Instagram’s recent scrap – there’s no doubt about it, 2012 has been a pretty mixed year for our favourite social media sites so it’s no wonder that the Chinese whispers have already begun regarding what the next 12 months will hold for social networking.
Now, there are shed-loads of articles out there that talk about the next big trends in social media (more mobile usage, big data, more social advertising, increased use of visuals and images on brand pages), so I thought I’d go down a slightly different route and have a look at which social networks might enter into the fray in a big way in 2013.
Now, I’m not saying any of these are sure-fire hits, and many of them are new (some of them have been around for a while), but there’s a good chance they might stir things up a bit over the next 12 months or so.
First up, it’s Microsoft’s social media offering; imaginatively named Socl. Powered by Microsoft’s search engine Bing, the network is currently still in its Beta version and has been around since May but was only opened up to anyone with a Facebook or Microsoft account earlier this week.
With a Pinterest-esque design, Socl allows you “to express and share your ideas through rich post collages comprised of images, links, captions and videos.” Quite simply, the network allows users to share their Bing search results with other Socl users.
So will it take off? Hmm… maybe. At the moment, Microsoft have described Socl as a “research project” from their Research FUSE Labs and has said it’s not designed to compete with the established social networks… yet!
Next up it’s MySpace – wait, didn’t that die a few years ago? Well it did but now, thanks to a little help from old ‘trousersnake’ Justin Timberlake, it’s back and ready to take on Facebook all over again, along with Spotify.
Currently still in Beta version, MySpace has been rebuilt from scratch and places a heavy emphasis on visuals and music. Opened up to a few lucky users recently, MySpace has a magazine-style design and lets users navigate through pages horizontally, rather than vertically.
Interestingly, the network seems to borrow elements from a few of its rivals – a 150 character status limit (similar to Twitter), large visuals and graphics (Pinterest) and a friend suggestion service (Facebook).
Designed to connect you to your favourite artists and help you discover new ones, MySpace has been designed to be a hybrid of Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Pandora. Will it work? We’ll have to wait and see!
Created by the masterminds behind Twitter and Blogger, Branch has been designed to be a bit of a cross between Q&A site Quora and Twitter.
So what is it? Well, Branch allows users to sign into Branch using their Twitter accounts and take part in in-depth conversations with their friends or other industry professionals. Users can start a “branch” and then invite other Twitter users to join in the conversation – any Twitter user can then subscribe to the conversation and receive updates, even if they’ve not been invited to participate in that particular branch.
So what’s the inspiration? According to Branch’s product manager Josh Miller; “Branch fills a gap opened by Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Quora to enable high-quality conversations without the noise. It also takes advantage of the desire for more intimate, private conversations of self-selected groups. Branch is trying to find a way to lower the signal-to-noise ratio of babblers to meaningful participants.”
So will it work? Well with high profile backers and a desire to fit into a niche into the market which has remained untapped as of yet, I have a feeling the future might be rosy for Branch.
No, I’m not making this one up. According to various reports, Samsung Electronics are poised to launch a new social network, currently code named “Samsung Facebook”, possibly as early as Q1 2013.
Now at the moment, not that much is known about what the network will be like and what its main features will be; however it’s thought the network will be based on the brand’s consumers’ acceptance of their mobile chat service, Chat On, and Family Story – a networking service which focuses on photo sharing, chatting and schedule reminders which is currently available on some of their smart phones and TVs.
It’s thought Samsung are planning to integrate their network with Amazon’s cloud computing platform so users can access the network at any time on any device. As we don’t know too much about it at the moment, it’s hard to say if this one’s going to be a success but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for over the next couple of months.
One of the most popular sites in China, Sina Weibo is a microblogging site which resembles a hybrid between Twitter and Facebook.
With 368 million registered users, around 100 million messages are posted on Weibo every day which makes it one of the most popular networking sites in the world. Similar to Twitter, Weibo allows users to create 140 character messages, however because a character can represent a word in Mandarin, users can create more detailed messages than they would be able to with a traditional tweet.
Although it’s currently only available in simplified and traditional Chinese characters and has versions catering to users in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Weibo is being developed in English and other languages so watch this space! Alongside its traditional platform, it’s believed a new spin off of Weibo called “Weibo Connections” is being developed which resembles a hybrid of Twitter and LinkedIn. Again, definitely something to keep an eye out for in 2013 and beyond.
So there you go; five new and existing social media platforms to watch out for in 2013. Anything else? Well thanks to a record-breaking year, I’ve got a feeling Tumblr and Pinterest are only going to get bigger in 2013 and – I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I think Facebook has had its day and will continue to lose users over the next 12 months.
Do you agree? Leave your comments below or send us a tweet.