6 Niche Social Media Networks Changing the Ways We Connect, Collaborate and Discover New Opportunities
In 2008, there were 100 million users on Facebook. Fast-forward 10 years, and 2.19 billion active users are on the platform. It's safe to say that social media has seen ample growth.
However, such rapid growth comes with its own set of challenges. From fake news to data breaches and an incredibly crowded marketplace, sometimes it feels like these platforms are simply so big that the companies can't even control them. Of course, that doesn't mean they're slowing down any time soon. In fact, their rampant growth is actually helping pave the way for other, more effective digital platforms.
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These niche social media platforms are tailored specifically to certain groups of people or industries, offering a more personalized approach to connecting with others who share common interests and goals, in addition to discovering new opportunities and receiving curated content.
"The key here is finding the right platform that allows the user to cut through the noise to achieve their intended goal," says Anis Bennaceur, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Mixer, a private network for creatives. "No two industries are created alike. Different user needs require different social ecosystems for professionals to connect, engage and collaborate."
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From Mixer to SERMO, a network for doctors, and Spiceworks, for IT professionals -- more and more niche networks are appearing, each with the intention of offering an easier way to connect with the right people and access the right information. To learn more, here are six niche social media networks.
With Mixer, the term "starving artist" might soon be outdated. By providing a private digital network for professionals in art, fashion, entertainment, music and various creative industries, the platform is helping to build a creative middle class by making connections and opportunities more accessible. With a thorough vetting process, a small monthly subscription fee and a digital framework in place that makes it easy for members to personalize their profiles and import work to an online portfolio, the app provides an alternative way for creatives to connect, exhibit their work, post jobs and find new opportunities. "We believe our hyper-focus on the creative industry will drive more meaningful engagements through the Mixer app, making it an intangible part of the creative professional lifestyle," Bennaceur says.
AngelList is a niche network geared towards connecting startups and angel investors. After a person or company applies and is accepted, they can begin "swiping right" or "swiping left" on investors or startups.
However, getting accepted might be easier said than done. With an average 1 to 2 percent acceptance rate of startups, AngelList carefully monitors who is allowed to use its platform. Once accepted, a startup is provided a carefully curated list of recommended investors based on market, stage and location. Companies can also search for investors using filters, funding types, activity and more. Investors are also provided the opportunity to filter through startups.
ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to connect, share research, ask questions and collaborate on projects. It boasts more than 15 million users worldwide.
Like Mixer and AngelList, ResearchGate also has a strict vetting process for applicants, requiring scientists to sign up using their institutional email addresses or undergo an individual process to prove their research activity. In the scientific industry, there's a strong commitment to uncover information and research for the greater good of humanity, which is why ResearchGate's mission is "to connect the world of science and make research open to all." Launched by a group of scientists, the platform not only seeks to help connect scientists from around the world, but provide them an online place to share publications and data, find out who has been citing their work, ask questions, post discussions and find new opportunities.
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is a niche social network aimed at connecting doctors around the globe. With a three-stage application process to verify a person's medical credentials, SERMO offers a safe platform for doctors to connect, discuss important topics, ask questions, learn and crowdsource information. Unlike ResearchGate, SERMO creates an exclusive professional community where doctors can connect and feel comfortable discussing confidential information, and to even do so anonymously if they choose.
, geared towards IT professionals and digital marketers, provides an online space to connect with peers, start conversations, gain access to educational content and take advantage of various planning and management apps. Spiceworks also allows tech companies to join and connect with tech professionals and offer company-backed advice and tips to users. Unlike a number of today's niche social networks, Spiceworks is a public platform, but with its major focus on IT workers and business, there's not much appeal to people outside of the industry.
is a network for aspiring soccer athletes and coaches, aimed at helping players and professionals connect with people and opportunities, with the end goals of jump-starting their own athletic careers or building a team. After a person applies and is accepted, they can upload their sports resume and create a profile. In addition, they can import achievements and personal statistics and times to help them get noticed or recruited. Then, users can connect, send messages, search for opportunities and build teams.