10 Offbeat Social Networks
Facebook is so passé. Not only is everyone and their grandma on it and Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat, but you constantly have to check and recheck your privacy settings. It's good to know the social networking world is made up of more than just these internet giants. A wild assortment of options awaits, each with its own philosophy, features, gimmicks and target audience. Check out 10 off-beat social networks catering to everyone from bibliophiles to music lovers to artists.
Ello launched in March 2014, but then exploded in popularity later in the year after a chunk of Facebook users jumped ship following the enforcement of a "real name policy." So what's made Ello so popular? Well, Ello's vision of social networking is that of an ad-free experience where users are not the product to be processed with big data tools and sold to corporations, but rather where they can shape their online identity however they wish, sharing as much or as little as they want under any username. Ello has since done a bit of an ecommerce pivot, highlighting creators, artists, and their items for sale, with an iPhone app that is part social network, part online marketplace.
SoundCloud (Android, iOS)
SoundCloud (Android, iOS) styles itself as the world's "leading social sound platform." An online community of musicians, composers, bands, singers and music enthusiasts, SoundCloud allows users to upload and share their musical creations. You can also include feedback in unique, 'timed comments' at particular moments of a work's timeline. SoundCloud's discovery features allow users to follow trending music, follow other musicians and audio creators, and share your favorite tunes with friends and colleagues.
GoodReads (Android, iOS)
GoodReads is a social network geared toward bookworms. Bibliophiles connect here to review, rant or rave about books from every genre of fiction and non-fiction. In addition to being a vibrant discussion hub for bestsellers, classic works and everything else in between, GoodReads also includes a book discovery feature that allows readers to discover works that might appeal to them based on their own ratings, reviews and favorite books. Android and iOS apps take the GoodReads experience mobile for searching, rating and reviewing books. You can also post status updates and page progress, check out your friends' own progress and more.
While many social networks connect users from around the world, Nextdoor (Android, iOS) takes a more parochial approach. Designed as a community-building tool, Nextdoor is about creating a localized social network hub for neighbors to network and post about happenings, events, and issues that matter to their neighborhood. Use it to organize a neighborhood watch, send out invites for your next backyard barbecue, ask around for recommendations on a good babysitter, look for help in finding a lost pet and more.
Delicious (Android, iOS)
Delicious is a social bookmarking service that allows users to bookmark favorite articles, photos, videos, tweets, websites and other online content, and then share them with other Delicious users, effectively adding a social dimension to your cloud bookmarking. The Delicious mobile apps (Android, iOS) allow you to edit and tag content, as well as explore your friends' own links.
Founded in August 2000, DeviantArt is a social network where amateur and professional artists and art enthusiasts can upload and share their creations, comment on each others' works and network with like-minded art lovers. DeviantArt's community is a lively and creative space, with its members uploading hundreds of thousands of paintings, photographs, films and other artistic creations daily. You'll find lively discussion, commentary and communities here. Art styles and quality of work run the full gamut, from anime-inspired creations to surreal paintings and photo-manipulations by dabblers and professionals alike.
Did you just have a totally weird dream that you wanted to share? Check out REMcloud, a social network for dreamers that allows its users to share their dreams and nightmares online. In addition to sharing their dreams, users can browse through the dreams of others, search for dream keywords and connect with other users with similar dream experiences.
Path (Android, iOS)
Rather than casting your social net as wide as it can go, Path (Android, iOS) focuses on building strong, close relationships, limiting users to only 150 maximum contacts. The theory is that by limiting your contact pool, you'll choose your closest, most important relationships, allowing you to be more honest and open about your social network sharing. In a great many other respects, Path still does all the things that your standard online social network does, providing users with instant messaging, status postings, check-ins, stickers and media sharing.
DragonFruit (Android, iOS) is a dating social network aimed at the geeky set that helps break the ice by making sure you're matched with somebody who has similar interests as you. Users set up a profile (complete with your own origin story) and fill out a geek index of your hobbies and fandoms, whether it's a TV show, video game, author or comic book. DragonFruit then tries its best to match you with somebody who's got similar geekdoms, allowing you and your match to easily start a conversation and see if things click. The mobile app just launched this April, and while it still feels a bit rough around the edges, it's an interesting concept.
Take traditional pen and paper role-playing games and give them a dash of the modern social network, and you get Obsidian Portal. A combination of tabletop RPG toolkit and social network, Obsidian Portal allows players and game masters to create online repositories of games and campaigns, complete with adventure logs, character pages, maps, images and more. Users can share and discuss each others' campaigns and game sessions, get in touch with nearby gamers and discover local games looking for more players. Obsidian Portal also features a premium tier that provides numerous scheduling, logging and game management features for game masters.