In 2015, active Internet users worldwide totaled 3.2 billion, which is nearly half the population of the world. Of these, over 2 billion are active social media users. The last 12 months alone has seen the number of social media users increase by 176 million people.
Though the majority of social media activity happens on massive networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there are a number of quirky, innovative social media services that have carved out a niche market for themselves.
Our list of five social media site that you have never heard of before
Date Founded: 1999
Founder: Jet Berelson
What it is: Social media for the gothic community
Members of the gothic community have sometimes been looked on with apprehension and confusion. Being different can sometimes be lonely for them, which is what makes VampireFreaks so unique, as it bringing together goths from all over the world.
The site started out as a couple of forums dedicated to goth-industrial music. Over the years, the website expanded to include interviews, events news, and an online store. Today, the community boasts over 2 million profiles. Members can browse band profiles, classifieds, participate in chatrooms, rate pictures, buy music and merchandise, and much more.
Membership is free, but there is a premium option which allows users to send mass messages, upload bigger pictures, see more of who viewed you, and even help moderate the website. The service has received praise for helping to unify a unique subculture and become the top gothic-industrial website in the world.
Date Founded: May 2008
Founders: Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti
What it is: Social network for language learning
Learning a new language is never an easy feat, especially if you live in an area with few or no native speakers of the language you are learning. To address this need for a community of like-minded learners and language speakers, busuu was founded.
busuu is the world’s largest social network for language learning. Users can select one or more of 12 language offerings and work through the self-paced units. Its language lessons offers vocabulary, dialogue, and writing practice, as well as opportunities to speak with a native speakers via chat-window or video calls. Throughout the learning process, users act as both student and tutor, correcting one another’s work.
Users can create a profile for free on busuu, but there is also a premium membership that allows people to access exclusive lessons, such as grammar. Today, the network boasts over 50 million users globally, and the audio-visual language courses is now offered in mobile and tablet devices.
Date Founded: December 2006
Founders: Michael Sanchez and Andrew Shue
What it is: Social network for mothers and mothers-to-be
CaféMom is a women-only community where moms come together to get advice and support on topics like pregnancy, health, fashion, food, entertainment, and more.
Though it originally began as a place that provided parenting information in the form of blogs and articles, the site soon grew into a connected community that addressed the need for mothers to share and talk with other women. CaféMom now has a number of sister sites through which moms and moms-to-be can also join groups, chat with other moms, participate in forums, and earn credits based on their contributions.
Within a year of its launch, CaféMom became the most trafficked website for women on the internet and today reaches 25 million monthly visitors with its unique combination of content and community.
Date Founded: 2002
Founders: Jérome Touze, Peter Ward, and Mike Lines
What it is: World’s largest social travel network
WAYN is a social media site for travellers and adventurers. The company describes itself as a ‘destination and activity discovery engine,’ but that’s just the home page. Underneath the travel and hotel deals is a massive network of likeminded people helping each other make the most of our incredible world.
WAYN works like a typical social network platform. A person creates a profile where they can post pictures, add friends, document their latest travelling, and post tips and questions. The site includes maps where users can mark past trips and forums in which to share stories and ask for advice.
Over the past decade, WAYN has grown more than 444%. While the site itself is free, you can join their exclusive VIP club. These memberships start from 1 week for $4.99, 3 months for $9.99 a month, and the best value at 6 months for $7.49 a month.
Date Founded: February 2003
Founders: Derek Liu, Long Vo, and Josh Gainsbrugh
What it is: Social network for anime fans
The past two decades have seen anime (Japanese animation) grow in popularity. This niche Comic Con and fantasy convention is loaded with Japanese influence. As it’s influence infiltrated into the lives of American youth, out of it emerged Gaia Online.
The website was originally a list of useful links for anime fans, but it soon transitioned into a small but fast growing community. Gaia Online provides an environment for anime lovers to connect with each other through games, activities, events, discussion forums, and more. Joining the network is free, but there is a marketplace ecosystem within the site, where users can buy and sell with Gaia Gold or Gaia Cash that they can purchase with real money.
Today, Gaia Online has more than 300,000 users who log in to the site every day who spend an average of 2 hours on the site. The popularity of the service has earned the site two awards, the 2007 Webware 100 award, and the 2010 Mashable Best User Experience Award.