More than 70% of online adults are Facebook users, but the popular social network is facing some slivers of competition as new digital destinations entice users. In 2013 we saw the rise of visual social media, with services such as Instagram and Pinterest reeling in fans with photos-first agendas.
This year there is not just one emerging trend, but instead there are a number, changing the way people connect online—all while slowly eating tiny bits of Facebook's lunch.
When their parents and grandparents—and the dreaded marketers—jump on board of one social media site (like Facebook), teens scurry off to carve out new online territory. Most recently, Snapchat is driving the disappearing social media trend. With more than 360 million photos shared—and deleted within seconds—this company is proving that a younger generation is in fact cozying up to the idea of private moments.
Assuming the company can avoid another security breach, they are poised for continued upward growth in in 2014.
Finally, blogging is beautiful. If you think back to the blogs of yesteryear, while the words often had an impact, where they were housed was nothing to write home about. Cofounder of new blog publishing platform Medium Ev Williams (of Blogger and Twitter fame) explained the difference in an email:
"It is a much lower barrier and commitment than blogging. You publish into a network that is pulsing with other writers and readers. And you create with the cleanest, most streamlined writing interface on the web."
Check out the top 100 stories on Medium to see topics ranging from life hacking to saving local bookstores to CrossFit's dirty little secret. Neatly tucked beside each title is the approximate reading time, a nice addition in a world where sometimes 140 characters seems like too much.
While most social networks, such as Twitter, operate best when you share publicly, there are a growing number of online users flocking to private networks. Lulu, a women-only app (iOS / Android) that makes it easy to rate guys, is soaring in popularity in many corners of the world. Its biggest audience? Brazil. The service has the flavor of Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook predecessor FaceMash, where users could choose the hotter of two female students on-screen.
Lulu however appears to have a higher purpose—mainly to help ladies avoid bad male choices. Log in with your Facebook account and—if you're female—you're all set to start (anonymously) rating guys. These closed networks are bound to make members feel as though they're part of a tighter community, leading to a higher comfort level than what they might experience posting publicly.
Just when you thought social media couldn't get more egotistical, Justin Bieber throws his weight behind "Shots of Me." The iOS app makes it easy to share selfies (just in case you couldn't nail taking a photo of yourself in one of the many popular picture-taking apps online today).
On the positive side, the comments are restricted so there is bound to be less cyber-bullying. This app sits in the same self-centered selfie category as Frontback, a download to see what's in front of you and what's behind you—at the same time (which, interestingly, is actually kind of neat).
Just when you thought the social media world was coming to a catastrophic end, with groups of women humiliating ex-boyfriends and Justin Bieber fans pouting for pictures, the sharing economy comes into its own. Whether you want to borrow a drill from someone on your street using NeighborGoods or you're looking to book an awesome pup sitter on DogVacay, the success of Airbnb over the past few years has helped to drive home this fact: social networks are built for sharing.
If you need stuff, skills, or spaces, there are communities waiting to lend, rent, or give. There's even a new site called Rentything that is trying to help people make people money from the stuff that's collecting dust in their homes on a daily basis.
[Image: Flickr user Guian Bolisay]