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The other social networks

There is a world beyond Facebook and Twitter. The lesser known but very interesting social networks can help break the monotony

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the most popular social networking platforms, and have the highest user base. According to Statista’s data on the world’s most popular network at the end of November 2015, Facebook has an active user base of 1.5 billion, Instagram (also owned by Facebook) has 400 million users and Twitter 316 million users. A look at the lesser known platforms reveals the likes of Snapchat (200 million) and Tumblr (230 million) are not exactly languishing on the fringes. They are quite close to Twitter and Instagram in terms of user base, even though Facebook leads the way. Probable reasons for these networks not seeing traction in India is that users here are more comfortable using single platforms and perhaps find these to be not so user-friendly. However, these lesser known platforms have their unique selling points.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a unique blogging platform that offers a myriad social networking features for those who log on. In terms of features it is the closest to Facebook. You can chat with your connections, put up posts (called blogs), share posts by others and like posts. Your home page shows all your blogs and it can be viewed by anybody. One doesn’t have to be on Tumblr to see your homepage. The blogs can be photos, text or videos. What makes it more fun is the customisation it allows. You can modify the home page and add new themes. Unlike Facebook, where you have to give your real name, Tumblr has no such reservations. The platform’s unique approach makes it very popular with bloggers looking to catch up with other bloggers. There are some limitations, though—you can’t publish blogs beyond a certain number.

Snapchat

Though regarded as a messenger where photos and videos delete automatically, there is a lot more to Snapchat. It is fast emerging as a platform for digital marketing as it’s quite popular with youngsters. According to a University of Michigan study (published in October 2015) ( read here), when it comes to making people happy, Snapchat is the most popular social network after face-to-face conversation. The study was measuring the relative happiness of individuals after using different social networks. Facebook and instant messenger were the lowest in the list.

Snapchat’s key highlight is the Story mode which allows individuals to broadcast a series of photos and videos with fun filters, text and drawings. A broadcast remains on the platform for 24 hours and can be seen by anyone on Snapchat. It is used by digital brands such as ESPN, Daily Mail, Comedy Central to promote their content. Snapchat claims it gets over 4 billion video views every day. That is quite a number and shows the level of engagement it’s creating within its limited user base.

Reddit

Reddit is a slightly off-beat social networking platform which lays more emphasis on building conversation instead of encouraging random sharing of photos and videos. Though it has 234 million users (as per Statista), many in India haven’t really heard about it. The design is a bit archaic but there is a wide variety of content to read. Reddit has strict guidelines and every post is scrutinised to ensure no one puts up offensive content. The Ask Me Anything (AMA) is another popular feature of Reddit where an eminent personality takes up questions from the Reddit community called Redditors. So far Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Barack Obama have been on it. Reddit has grown into a powerful community, one where people don’t just share thoughts but have raised millions of dollars for aid. It has a unique section called suicide watch where Redditors try to talk people with suicidal thoughts out of it. The bland layout makes it highly confusing while its strict regulations regarding what you can share makes it less appealing to an average Facebook user.

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