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3 Social Network Alternatives to Facebook

It seems like every business or person you know is on Facebook, and this makes checking out other social networking sites impractical.  Wait—there are other social networks? Apparently, there are quite a lot, and I’m not talking about Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, or Google+.   Don’t be so easily put off, as the alternatives may prove more useful than you think. Here are three I find most interesting:

Zurker – The Social Network You Own 

3 Social Network Alternatives to Facebook image Social Network Alternatives

Many people are already wary of social networks that try to mine their data for profit.  To respond to this, Zurker founders threw in a bit of tempting bait for Internet users. All new members don’t just own their own data—they own the network.

The social network operates on the notion that if members own the project, they’ll be willing to contribute ideas and feedback for future developments.   Each new member becomes a future shareholder or co-owner of Zurker, ensuring that priorities at Zurker don’t get skewed by investors that are in it only for the money. To earn equity (called vShares—equivalent to 1/1,000,000th of the Zurker in your territory, e.g. Zurker-US), you simply have to invite new members to the social network or buy vShares for $1.  The more you invite, the more equity you earn, the more Zurker becomes valuable, and the more your stake becomes valuable. Zurker also has a strict policy of one account maximum for each person.

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The new social network is distinguished by a bright green interface and huge white profile space. Features include:

Post an Update – An update can be news from you, an anecdote, a reminder, a call to action, or even a work of fiction—anything your contacts might be interested in.

Entities – Profiles for businesses, organizations, bands, groups, or causes. You can create an unlimited number of entities, which people can subscribe to.

Convos – Private messaging for Zurkers.

Photo – Post photos.

Find – Post links to “finds” on the internet and shows you the “finds” posted by friends. You can also include descriptions for your own finds.

What I like about Zurker is it that looks free and uncluttered. Aside from having a big white space, two buttons—“Connect” and “Subscribe”—are prominently displayed below your name and your profile description.  Clicking on “Streeme” is like clicking on the home page of your Facebook page; however, instead of status updates, you see a page showing “Home” and “Street.”  Clicking on “Home” shows you Zurkers who want to connect with you, notes left for you, and suggested connections, while “Street” shows updates from your accepted connections.  You can filter this by tag.

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Updating is not as fluid as I would like it to be, and I find the site too click-dependent.   To be fair though, the site is still in beta, so I’m sure there are a lot of improvements that still have to be made.

Since its launch last January, Zurker has acquired 172,857 accounts, but not all are active. Personally, I think many people are going to be in it for the vShares at the start. Once inside however, they’ll find a community that’s very easy to connect to.  Don’t be surprised if random people strike up a conversation and ask you to join their networks from the get-go.

So is Zurker going to be the next social phenomenon as its founder Nick Oba says it would be? A Wired article warns us to be “wary” of the newcomer and others have wondered if the social network is a scam. Another Wired article dated more recently interviewed Nick Oba to get his side regarding this accusation. I’m not really interested in vShares, but it would be interesting to see if Zurker is going to be the sensation it thinks it will be or if it’s just the social scam others have said it is.

Yammer – The Social Network for Enterprises

Don’t want your employees to be on Facebook while working?  Put them on Yammer.  Founded in 2008, Yammer works as a private and secure social network for businesses where employees can share files, documents, and pictures.

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With similar features to Twitter and Facebook, Yammer has news feeds, conversation threads, direct messaging, and tagging for replies.  This makes collaboration faster and more convenient than when you use email. Users can also be grouped in the site and can even invite external partners to join their network. Using API integrations, Yammer also lets you view and interact within other business applications like SharePoint and SAP.  Admins also have the power to control, customize, and manage their Yammer network, giving companies more privacy and control.

Just how robust is this business social network?  Inside IPO, citing Forbes, says that the company already has 4 million users, a huge growth from the 1.6 million users it had last year. Before its acquisition by Microsoft last June, Yammer was reported to be gearing up for an IPO, joining cloud services like RingCentral and Atlassian in the IPO rumor mill.  The company also seems to be thriving thanks to its freemium model; Inside IPO reports that sales have tripled from 2010 to 2011.

If you want to know more about using Yammer for business, I suggest joining the YamJam ’12, a conference for Yammer customers, partners, and thought leaders.

Nextdoor – Your Neighborhood is Your Network

Nextdoor is the virtual response to the criticism that the Internet has created superficial and impersonal relationships.  In the hope that subscribers would “build stronger and safer neighborhoods around the world,” Nextdoor connects users with people within their locality. The private social network requires members to sign up using their home address, so that they can be placed in a home neighborhood.  All updates, connections, and messages you see will then come from users in your area.

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This of course raises suspicion from prospective users who don’t want to give out their addresses online. To ensure that you’re going to connect with a secure and trusted network, the site requires you to verify your address by mailing you a postcard that contains a code you’d have to enter online.  Alternatively, you can verify via credit card, which will cost you $0.01. Some addresses can also verify via phone. To protect your privacy, Nextdoor swears that it never shares your personal data with advertisers. Also, only you and your neighbors will actually be able to see what’s shared in updates.

Subscribers will find Nextdoor useful for:

-          getting to know actual neighbors

-          asking for recommendations on home repairs

-          looking for a lost pet

-          publicizing neighborhood events

-          finding a home for old furniture

-          warning neighbors of break-ins, etc.

In a recent article, USA today reports that Nextdoor has amassed 3,710 neighborhoods in 48 states since it launched last October, and is doubling in size every two months. Women also comprise over 60 percent of the membership. What I like about Nextdoor is that its specific objective and uses make online sharing very authentic.  If you want to be more neighborly online, considering moving to Nextdoor.

Do you use any of these social networks?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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  1. BraWilly says:

    Interesting article, Iliana. I would urge 3rd party developers to consider the alternatives you pointed out as well, hoping that these social networks’ API rules are favorable. We know that social netizens choose networks also based on what they can do when there, and 3rd party apps play a big part in this regard. See the article I wrote, relating to growing strain between main social networks and 2rd party developers: http://enitiate.me/2012/07/21/the-3-main-social-networks-are-putting-software-developers-out-of-business/

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