Fact: Most millennial’s are on at least one social network.

Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, many people in this day in age are users of social networking sites, such as the ones listed above.  However, many young individuals have the false perception that they can only be connected to the most popular sites, like Facebook and Twitter.  In other words, people are only part of these sites for their popularity and not for their content.

Yet, as the world-wide web expands, the concept of social networking is changing.  Instead of a few large social networking sites controlling the social network scene, many ingenious companies are now creating social networks that interest their users on a personal level.   Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where a user might not be able to connect specifically with other users, these smaller networks create a sense of community for users who share similar interests, opinions, and hobbies. “On the big social sites, a person’s network is often so big that there’s no real sense of community. Chances are, in real life you consider yourself a member of many different communities within society: An animal lover, a UX designer, and a parent, for instance. Your online life should mirror your real life, which is not to say that everything must be kept separate, but you should feel connected to the people you’re surrounded by.”  That being said, these smaller networks are essentially advocating niche networks.

For instance:

“Are you an ornithologist? Connect with your friends (feathered and otherwise) at Birdpost .

A craft beer lover? Look for tastings and suggestions at Pintley.

A running/biking fanatic? Sign up for Strava.

An ambitious designer? Share your work on Dribble.

“Niche social networks, are built for specific, narrowed-down purposes allow for focus, community, and meaning to be restored to the online world.” Essentially, nice networks create a stronger sense of community and allow for individuals to communicate with others all over the world at unique level.  It is comforting to know that you are not alone and that there are other people in the world who feel, act, and think the way you do.

So I challenge my generation to break from the bandwagon of popular social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.  Expand your social networking bubble and find other networks that relate to you personally.  You might be surprised what you find.  There are so many networking sites available that target a large variety of individuals.  It is easy to find a community where you feel welcomed.  And who knows, maybe you might find your new best friend on one of these smaller sites.  Sure, they may not have billions of users like Facebook…but hey, there is something to be said to know who you are friends with on a social networking site and actually communicate with them on a regular day.  Suddenly there is less focus on how many friends or followers you have, but more of a focus on who these friends and followers are. Put yourself out there and find your niche network!