Small Social Networks on the Rise

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that when it comes to social networks, gargantuan Facebook reigns supreme. However, after eight years of unprecedented growth and the accumulation of enough clout to make an indelible imprint in the world for decades to come, the company that next month will go public on Nasdaq is now facing competition from so-called “disruptive technologies.” What are these?

They’re smaller social networks like Instagram, already bought by Facebook, and Path that allow folks online to socialize within a less public network. Although it seems counterintuitive, it’s not. People still like the medium that social networks provide for sharing pictures and life updates but, increasingly, they’re seeking to do it within more confined parameters. Also, they want to do it using their mobile devices.

Because what you want to share with your best friends rarely coincides with what you’d like to share with co-workers, companies are springing up that cater to the desire for more easeful selective sharing. The new social networks, by virtue of their not having reached the scale of Facebook, give users the feeling — perhaps unfounded — of greater privacy, and it’s precisely that which invites more relaxed sharing. Let’s face it, no one really wants to keep meticulous track of who has access to what on their FB profile.

San Jose State Business professor Randall Stross just wrote about the subject for the New York Times, and although he believes that the smaller networks do not pose any real competition to the giants, FB’s $1 billion buyout of Instagram begs to differ. Above, an image of a user’s Path interface.

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