Posted on Mar 24, 2015

Social Media Networks You’ve Never Heard About

Everybody has heard of the main social media networks, including those (the non-tech-savvy among us) who think that Google is the internet. Those main networks are primarily Facebook and, for some people, Twitter. Those who are more tech savvy will also know about several other social media networks, whether by reputation or direct experience. These include WhatsApp, Vine, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Snapchat. But there is a whole other level of social media networks that most of us have never heard anything about.

What are these networks and where are they coming from? Essentially there are two main sources. The first is new startups looking for a niche, or trying to do something that the more established platforms do poorly. Some of these are fledgling operations with limited numbers of users, and many will fail. But there are some that will come through to find a place among the other regularly used platforms.

The second source of social media networks that you probably haven’t heard of are those coming out of Asia. These are a different beast as they are often already well established and come with huge user bases. Sometimes it is easy to think that something is small and new if it is not popular in the US. But some Asian-based social media networks are proving that assumption is wrong.

Here are some of the less well-known (in the US) social media platforms that you will probably hear a lot more about in the near future.

  1. WeChat
    WeChat, developed by the Chinese company Tencent, is a text chat app used on mobile devices. It allows users to send text and voice messages. It has 468 million users, more than LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter. The majority of those users are in China, although it is starting to branch out into other countries. For example, BuzzFeed recently announced a partnership with WeChat, which is likely to increase its reach in North America.
  1. KakaoTalk
    KakaoTalk is another major social media network that is largely based in Asia. It has been around since 2010 and now has 140 million users. The really impressive statistic is the market penetration that it has achieved in its biggest market – the highly tech aware South Korean market. Over 70 percent of the population uses a smartphone, and 93 percent of those people use KakaoTalk.
  1. Line
    Line is another social media network that offers popular features – free messaging, chats, stickers etc – and it has its key user base in Asia, although this time the main concentration of users is in Japan. It is the largest social media network in that country, and worldwide has 181 million active users.

    Other major social media networks that have large user bases in Asia include:

    • QQ – 829 million
    • QZone – 629 million
    • Baidu Tieba – 300 million
    • Sina Weibo – 167 million
  1. 8
    8 is the newest social media network on this list, having just been launched this year. But it is here because it is doing something interesting which is getting it noticed. This is around the way that it deals with content and advertising. It carries ads, like other social networks do, but if a user clicks on an ad on a page associated with your profile, you get 80 percent of the revenue. 8 takes the other 20 percent. It hopes this business model will bring the best content creators to its platform, which in turn will increase its user base.
  1. VK (VKontakte)
    Most of the main social networks in the world are centered in North America and Asia, but VK is the exception. It is Russia’s largest social media network with 100 million active users, and is the second most visited site on the internet in Russia.

In terms of user base, Facebook is still the global powerhouse, but in many countries other social networks that are popular in the United States are dwarfed by indigenous offerings. This, plus the innovators coming in to the market, means the landscape is likely to continue changing.

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