Jul 6, 2023
Marketers know that the realm of social media moves fast. There are algorithms to track, new features to understand, and countless trends to tap into, especially the rise of AI tools for social media.
The popularity of social media platforms can fluctuate over time due to various factors, including changing user preferences and the emergence of new ones. We just need to look at the decline in popularity and users of Clubhouse and BeReal to see how quickly things can change in the social media realm.
In this blog, we’re going to look at ten ‘alternative’ social media apps you should consider as part of your strategy. These apps fall into five categories:
“The social networking market is projected to reach 5.4 billion people by 2025 and worth $183 billion by 2027 ” Statista
TikTok creators have developed another app, Lemon 8, that’s making waves. A combination of Instagram and Pinterest (a board-style format), Lemon 8 is built for content creation with an emphasis on photos over videos.
The app is one of the most downloaded lifestyle apps in Apple's App Store and has over 5 million downloads in the Google Play store.
The content on Lemon8 is split into seven tabs that show recommended and suggested posts:
What’s different about Lemon8 is that there are a lot of influencer ads and product recommendations and it’s hard to tell what’s sponsored content). There’s also a lot of writing as captions can include instructions or even recipes.
Marketing opportunities - Lemon8 is currently ad-free but due to its popularity, it could offer ads in the future. At the moment brands can use it to work with creators to feature their products.
Locket is a simple photo app created by Matt Moss as a personal side project for his girlfriend. It became so popular amongst friends and family, that Moss decided to launch it on the Apple Store.
The function of the app is simple - it allows users to view live pictures from family and friends from an iPhone’s home screen. Users can invite and add contacts and then add the app’s widget to a phone. The app will show the photos of contacts as they add images during the day.
Users can also upload photos to a ‘locket; which is then automatically shared and refreshed with the locket on the screens of family and friends.
The app rose to the top of the App Store charts after launching on New Year’s Day in 2022 and has been downloaded 20 million times. Since its launch, Locket has seen over 1 billion photos shared according to TechCrunch.
Marketing opportunities - There is currently no focus on Locket generating revenue but Moss believes there’s potential to develop features inside the app as users share more photos over time.
Founded by Twitter’s co-founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey, BlueSky is a decentralized social app with a Twitter-like user interface. It offers algorithmic choice, a federated design and community moderation. This means that the user is in control of what content they see and it’s easy to choose between servers.
The app functions much like Twitter, where you can click a plus button to create a post of 256 characters, which can also include photos. Posts can be replied to, retweeted, liked and also reported, shared to other apps, or copied as text.
At the moment, there is a waiting list to join the beta of the app and it’s invite-only. However, getting a BlueSky invite is something that’s absolutely hot. The app has been described as Twitter without the crap!
At the moment it only has 50,000 users so it’s small, but one to watch.
Marketing opportunities - As it is an invite-only app, there are no marketing opportunities to date.
Despite being around since 2016, the platform saw a surge in sign-ups when Twitter was taken over by billionaire Elon Musk.
Like Bluesky, it’s a decentralized social network made up of independent servers organized around specific themes, topics, or interests. You can do a lot of the same things on Mastodon that you can on Twitter such as contribute to conversations, create posts and post images.
The key difference is you can choose to join a server to host your account as it’s made up of many.
Marketing opportunities - The developers of Mastodon have stated that there will be no ads so it’s doubtful sponsored content or paid media will be allowed. However, it could be used for market research, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and user-generated content. Focus on privacy
True is billed as the social networking app that will ‘protect your privacy.’ Its messages are encrypted so it allows people to connect with only who they want and set up private threads.
While there are also public threads, the attraction of the app is its private threads. These can be between just two people or hundreds, but the thread creator can only invite people one at a time (so no mass uploading). No private thread can be found through an online search or by other app users.
There are reportedly more than 10,000 users on the app and it received a $15 million injection of funding in 2023 from Microsoft veteran, Paul Maritz.
Marketing opportunities - True has promised users no tracking or no ads. However, Inc.com reported that the app’s Founder, Bret Cox says that while private threads will never support ads, there are ads in public threads based on the areas of interest indicated by a user. Cox has seen creators and bloggers using public threads to advertise their courses, and he hopes this can drive revenue for True in the future.
Meta has launched an app to rival Twitter and go up against Elon Musk called 'Threads'. Fresh to the market in July 2023, Threads is expected to have a similar feel to Twitter but is branded as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app”, with screenshots suggesting users will be able to use their existing Instagram login details for sign-up.
Meta's Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox says: “We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run, that they believe that they can trust and rely upon for distribution." Cox says the company's goal for the app is “safety, ease of use, reliability” and making sure that creators have a “stable place to build and grow their audiences.”
It's already causing a buzz but will not be available in the EU for the foreseeable future due to stricter privacy regulations.
Marketing opportunities - No details have been released about the marketing opportunities, but seeing as the app is owned by Meta and linked to Instagram, ad features could be available in the near future.
Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging app that works across several platforms. It’s gaining popularity as it offers end-to-end encryption in chats and video phone calls. It also has a ‘Secret Chat’ message feature, support group chats, and self-destructing messages.
It was founded in 2013 by Nikolai and Pavel Durov who also created the Russian social media platform VK. The intention was to be a rival to WhatsApp and its selling point is the security and level of privacy it provides to users.
Telegram has 500 million monthly active users with 430 million downloads in 2021 and 153 million in the first half of 2022.
The advantages of the app are that you can use it even if you have forgotten the other person’s phone number. You can also store your chat or user history on the cloud which is not offered by other messaging apps at the moment. These elements are helpful for community building.
Marketing opportunities - Telegram Ads allow businesses to use sponsored messages on Telegram Channels with 1000+ subscribers to promote their products or services to users. Telegram Ads contain only a few components, including an ad title, ad message, and an ad URL that is linked to the business's Telegram Channel or bot, but no external links are allowed.
Discord is a voice, video, and text chat app that's used to talk and hang out with communities and friends.
The app uses servers that are private, invite-only spaces for groups of friends and communities to spend time together. There are also larger, more open communities, centered around specific topics such as popular games like Minecraft and Fortnite, which is no doubt where it earned its nickname of “Slack for gamers”. It can also be integrated with other popular platforms like Zapier, YouTube and Twitch.
Launched in 2015 by Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy, the aim of the app is “give people the power to create space to find belonging in their lives and build genuine relationships with friends and communities close to home or around the world.”
According to the founder, the app has 150 million monthly active users and 4 billion server conversation minutes daily.
Marketing opportunities - Discord allows marketers to promote their wares in communities. The key is to create a Discord server community based on a topic that aligns with or is associated with your brand. These spaces come with their own user roles, avatars, and access to video and voice chat. Visuals are important so make sure you use stickers, GIFs and images. There’s also a Partner Program you can take advantage of and you can use live events.
Patreon is a membership platform that allows creators to run a subscription service for their content. So, instead of setting up their own website and payment platform, creators can launch a personal Patreon page.
Paying subscribers on the app are called patrons and each patron pays a fee for exclusive content from creators - they have now rolled out video creation. Patreon reports having 8 million monthly active patrons, 250,000 creators and $3.5 billion paid out to creators.
Marketing opportunities - Patreon is built for creators to make money, not necessarily brands. However, brands are partnering with Patreon creators through influencer marketing to launch a campaign that includes that creator’s Patreon audience (e.g. exclusive discounts or product sneak peeks.
Polywork is a professional network where users can create a free personal webpage, share updates and news, and send collaboration requests. As an app, it is looking to operate in the same space as LinkedIn.
On the website, the app describes its modus operandi as ‘your place to discover opportunities to collaborate with other professionals. Partner on side projects, speak on podcasts, beta test new apps & more. You’ll never be bored again.’
In 2022, Polywork raised $28 million in Series B funding co-led by former GitHub CEO, Nat Friedman and Caffeinated Capital. Other investors include Instacart, Stripe, Lyft and Clubhouse.
“If LinkedIn is a network for full-time opportunities, we’re sort of the network for collaboration opportunities,” said Peter Johnston, Polywork’s CEO and Founder.
Marketing opportunities - The social network has no revenue plans but instead is focused on growth and product. Monetizing the platform may include customization of user templates or advanced search similar to LinkedIn Premium.
So there you have it, 9 great social apps that you may not have come across or used as part of your social media activities.
Before you start using a new platform, make sure to review your social media strategy. This will help you decide whether a social app aligns with your audiences and objectives.
Remember, it's always best to test a social media platform personally before launching a brand presence.
With so many eyes on social networks, it’s a great place to attract, engage and influence customers. Updates and hone your social media skills with DMI’s certified Social Media Marketing course by learning the fundamentals and diving into social commerce, social strategy, social customer service, and much more.