Beyond Pinterest and Instagram – Ten Visual Social Networks That Should Be On Your Radar

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I’ve written a lot recently about the growth of the visual web – how the big social media success stories of 2011/2012 were visual, and how imagery is becoming more important online.

I summarised the trend in a webinar presentationI did for EyeFor Travel (link here)

However, though Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram have grabbed the headlines, which ones should you look out for next?   I’ve listed the ten I’ve had some exposure to over the past six months, as part of my job at Rabbit.

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Sure, not all of them will be a success.  Some will be though, and they are worth keeping on your radar.

1 – Jux

Less than a year old, Jux was called “the most beautiful blog platform yet” by The Next Web at launch and I agree.

Think of it as an even more visual and better looking alternative to Tumblr, with a lot of the same functionality (repost articles, follow other users).

Jux has quickly become a Rabbit favourite, with some of us (for instance having recently created personal sites.

Jux boss Ted Metcalfe is adding features all the time to improve the functionality, so this is definitely one to start to get to grips with and thinking about what you can use it for.   Like Tumblr, the process of signing up and posting takes minutes.

2 – Tadaa

I wrote about Tadaa the other month, it’s one of a series of photo-sharing mobile networks that could on the surface of it be considered Instagram competitors.

However founder Niko Schoppmeier’s aim isn’t to compete with Instagram on numbers, which he can never win.  Instead, it is to create a network for mobile photographers who really take pride in the quality of their content – think Vimeo vs YouTube.

Tadaa recently went through an upgrade adding more filters and features.  I think its a better ‘product’ than Instagram with better features and filters.

What it’s lacking at the moment is basic community features such as the ability to group images by hash-tag and the ability to call out someone publicly through @.   The fact that Instagram lifted both of these conventions from Twitter proved to be crucial to its success.

However, unlike Instagram you can post an image and ask other users to post images in reply – most challenges and contests on Tadaa are run like this.   Also, both from personal experience and from what Tadaa told me – the network is ‘busy.’  It isn’t a ghost town, but has a core of committed users who come back day after day.

3 – EyeEm

Like Tadaa, EyeEm is a German-based company.  While Tadaa is iOS only, and Instagram is iOS / Android, EyeEm is a good option for Windows Phone users.

Its a service I very much like and have started using personally. I also think its got a lot going for it, with attractive product features.  For example, it gives you the option of filling out your caption and location for you, which is a nice touch if you are stuck with what to add.

The interface looks good, you can call out other users through the @, and though there are no hash-tags as yet, you can instead create albums around any location or activity.   Once you’ve done this, any other user can add photos to that album.

EyeEm seems to be taking a similar approach to Tadaa in differentiating itself in being a higher end network for mobile photo enthusiasts.

Having said that, Britain’s Race for Life charity recently chose EyeEm in preference to Instagram for its high profile event.

4 – 500px

If Tadaa wants to be the high end Instagram, Toronto-based start-up 500px wants to be the high-end Flickr.   The Sydney Morning Herald describes it as being “home to some of the most amazing photos in the World”

Like Flickr, free membership will get you a certain amount of functionality (10 uploads a week), while paid for accounts start at $19.95.

Recently 500px acquired another Canadian company Algo Anywhere, with the aim of integrating its recommendation system into the site.   The fact that 500px was able to shell out $2 million on this implies a certain level of deep pockets.

5 – Cowbird

Cowbird is in theory invitation only.   It is not a photo or video sharing service, instead it is a story-telling site with added multi-media.   Or rather, as Cowbird puts it, it is designed to become a “public library for human experiences.”

Cowbird doesn’t actually allow video as founder Jonathan Harris says a video is a story in its own right.  It does encourage photos and sound.

6 – Storywheel

Like Cowbird, Storywheel is all about (as the name says) the story.   Anyone actually old enough to remember pre-PC age picture slide-shows will immediately get the concept.

Storywheel is the creation of Soundcloud, the growing social network that aims to become the YouTube of audio.   You upload a series of Instagram photos together, and then turn them into a narrated slide-show.

7 – Picle

Picle is another app that meshes audio and images.   Record ten seconds worth of sound on top of your pictures

Picle was the idea of London digital agency Made by Many, which launched the app at SXSW.   A month in, and it had netted 50,000 downloads.

8 – Socialcam and viddy

Along with Viddy, Socialcam has been described as the Instagram of mobile video.   Instead of taking a photo with your phone, you record a short video and then as with Instagram you enhance it via a series of filters.

There are question marks over whether Socialcam has 40 or 80 million monthly users, given accusations of gaming the Facebook app charts.

However, even the lower figure is impressive and the service has generated a lot of noise in the US in particular.   Brands have also started signing up, for example the Washington Post is using it for its Olympics coverage

Rather than automatically funneling everything over to YouTube, Socialcam could be a good alternative or supplement to any video based campaign.

Viddy is Socialcam’s main competitor and differs in that it is iOS only, and also restricts your videos to 15 seconds.  For that reason its been compared to Twitter as well as Instagram and a lot of people (myself included) prefer it to the larger socialam.

Viddy has a fair share of celebrity users including Justin Bieber and Britney Spears

9 – Cinemagram

Recently at Le Web, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said that while he saw problems with mobile video (mainly to do with speed), he did see potential in Cinemagram.

Cinemagram allows you to create animated photos, or cinemagraphs – the Cinemagram blog gives examples, with many users having turned these animated gifs into an art form.

10 – Snapguide

I think of Snapguide as the online version of picture recipe cards.   Except its about far more than food covering DIY, technology, photography automotive and beauty to name a few.

Basically you create a how to guide, through images.   Typical examples include how to clean silver jewellery using toothpaste, how to make a bracelet out of a baseball, and how to make authentic Mexican salsa.

Having recently raised $5 million, Snapguide integrates with Pinterest, and the potential-in for brands to create profiles and their own how to guides seems obvious.

Those ten are by no means a definitive list.   For example, in photo-sharing networks you also have and Streamzoo.   In animated photos you also have Gifture.   In mobile video you have Burst and Klip – and so on.   

But these ten are ones that caught my eye and are good representatives of the different genres of social networks that are on the rise and that you should be aware of – story telling apps, mobile photography and mobile video. 

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