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5 Social Media Sites You Aren't Using
Future Alternatives to Online Networking Norms

Facebook and Twitter have dominated the social media stratosphere, but with the future upon us, and constant changes in social trends, the online population is always on the hunt for a new form of social interaction. Here are 5 sites that you may not know about, and that you should consider if you are feeling you need a change from the “same old-same old" in the social networking world.

1. Medium

Created by the co-founder of Twitter, this site is an invite-only social media platform that allows only exclusive users to share more intuitive and original ideas. All Medium accounts seem to have some sort of link to professional publication, whether it be news, journalism, or research. In that regard, not everyone is eligible to post, weeding out the arbitrary and annoying content that appears on other sites. Unlike Twitter or Facebook status updates, Medium links its “updates” to 500-1000 word articles written by the user. Only the best and brightest seem to be able to post on Medium, and it is worth creating a Twitter account in hopes of being considered as a contributor. Given that it is a more specialized and aesthetically pleasing extension of Twitter, Medium holds promise as the new and coveted form of social communication for the future.

2. Bebo

Bebo was first launched in 2005 and is now closed for creative renovation until further notice. When relaunched, it may offer a form of competition for the socially dominant Facebook. Michael Birch bought Bebo for $1 million from AOL (who originally paid $850 million for it), and now he is seeking to renew the site’s design and capabilities. Right now, there is doubt in whether or not Birch can make the site a popular asset to the social media empire, but his current plan involves making it a mobile-only app so it competes less with Facebook. Birch also feels that people will be attracted to Bebo because it allows a “more direct, personalized form of online communication.” Some differences from Facebook: Bebo provides a “white board” that allows you and your friends to create communal drawings; also, when you reply to others’ status updates you can personalize your response with a tag, like “OMG,” “I’m sorry,” “cool,” “funny,” to add a more customized mood to your replies. Bebo also offers a variety of user-created “skins” for your profile without the risk of viruses. Though similar to Facebook, Bebo is an alternative worth considering.                   

3. Light an iCandle

This site allows you to create an online memorial for lost loved ones. You can post their pictures and stories for others to see and remember. Other users can light “iCandles” in memory of the deceased and tag their photos with them. The site’s founders say that by creating the memorial, you are creating your loved one a “digital afterlife” that allows Internet users to form a community of remembrance. Users can post messages to the deceased, as well as share videos and pictures. Although it seems a little morbid, many people already do this with the deceased Facebook page. Light an iCandle allows loved ones to be remembered in a less socialized, classier, and more innovative way.

4. Storylane

Though it closed back in 2011, Storylane is a social network that was recently bought by Facebook in March of 2013, and it seems to present a different means of creative social communication. The site is interesting in that users would have the ability and share their true life stories, and they are asked personally by Storylane creators to contribute based on their personal blogs. Facebook says, “The team from Storylane will be an incredible addition to Facebook. Their previous work showcasing real identity through sincere and meaningful content will make them a perfect fit at Facebook." Storylane seeks to share more evocative and intuitive expression through documented true life experiences, making it a more personalized form of social communication.

5. Ask.fm

This site allows users to ask other users anonymous questions about anything on their minds. Some questions are harmless and humorous, while others are more aggressive and offensive.  Users asking questions can choose to identify themselves, but most don’t. This site is used more by teens and may be just another outlet for more “cyberbullying” issues, but its anonymous element makes it an interesting opportunity for young people to share their ideas and questions with one another without the risk of identification. What would make this social media platform more interesting and increase popularity would be the involvement of celebrities (think of what you'd ask them if you didn't have to be identified) and possibly a little more regulation when it comes to the nature of the questions asked (a moderator of sorts?). There isn't a lot to this site, but it could easily be evolved into something better.

-Monica Lloyd