Track Social's Social Media Zone is a portal for assessing the activity of all Social Media Brands on the major platforms - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
We looked at the leaders in Audience Growth Rate in order to predict what might be the next big thing in Social. Some of the growth leaders you've probably heard about in the news, others maybe not.
Social growth measures how many new connections a brand is making across the already well-established social media platforms.
In other words, how well are these new social utilities leveraging their visibility on more established social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in order to spread their name, generate buzz and sign-up new members?
Track Social's Social Media Zone shows the Social Brand Map, which plots how social media sites are performing on, well, social media. The color of the balls represents how quickly it is growing - with red and orange indicating hot and fast growth. This means the hottest social sites are establishing new connections with online users faster than the rest of the pack. Only 5 social media sites out of our list of 147 can claim rights to a sizzling hot ball - here's the top 5 in social growth rate:
1. Instagram: Humans. Love. Photos.
We love taking them. Looking at them. Sharing them. And of course, digitally tweaking them so we appear to be much better photographers than we actually are.
At least that was the great insight of Instagram founders who are now a cool billion dollars richer thanks to Facebook's recent acquisition of the uber-popular photo sharing app now downloaded by over 50 million mobile users.
So now that Instagram has officially joined with the Zuckerburg and company, how is it using Facebook to engage with fans and recruit new users?
Instagram posts on Facebook are mainly re-posts from its official Instagram blog, which offers creative thematic challenges for the community, inviting users to submit their instagram-ed photos related to specific themes.
One regular challenge, the Weekend Hashtag Project, recently invited submissions for vacant places and empty chairs. These posts highlight the usefulness and uniqueness of Instagram's app - no wonder Instagram is on track to hitting 100 million users.
On Twitter, Instagram has managed to rack up over 3 million followers. This is largely due to Instagram's auto-follow policy. If you use Twitter to distribute an Instagram photo, you're essentially agreeing to "follow" Instagram. And while that might make it easier to get people signed up, keeping that audience requires facilitating engagement through fun, regular challenges the Weekend Hashtag Project.
Instagram owes a lot to Twitter for popularizing both the format and language of a "sharing community": "Feeds" and "Followers" are common to both and this overlap helps account for the large number of users who routinely use Twitter to distribute the photos they take with Instagram - a partnership we expect will continue to grow - unless Facebook decides otherwise.
[And just for good measure, the immanently shareable Pets of Instagram.]
2. MyYearbook: Engineering Serendipity
A recent marketing piece from one of MyYearbook's co-founders helps define this new kind of social network as an alternative to traditional online dating sites. What makes them stand out from all the other dating sites? MyYearbook stands behind the idea that people prefer to start out as friends before jumping into a romantic relationship. According to the company, MyYearbook has signed up over 33 million members since 2005 - meaning over 33 million people are also on board with this idea.
The rise of social networks and the ubiquity of mobile devices have given way to a new crop of mobile social networks - the Meeting Networks - which threatens to eat the dating industry's $4 billion lunch by making them a subset of a larger "meet new people" space.
Notice whose lunch they are not out to eat: Facebook's. In fact, MyYearbook offers a "one click" registration if you sign in through your Facebook account, a clear indication they're staking out a different kind of social media territory.
Call them Meeting Networks, call them Social Discovery Sites, MyYearbook attempts to connect people through playing online games, sharing videos, and giving virtual gifts (via an online currency called "Lunch Money" - we're not making that up). It's a space intended to facilitate new connections that might ultimately lead, according to satisfied customer "Mike, 33" to finding your "soulmate." Mazel tov, Mike.
3. Pinterest: Come ye pinners.
Our number 3 seemed to have blown up overnight, so it's no surprise that their significant audience growth has also given them office growth.
Technically, Pinterest is not just a photo-sharing site. It invites users (called pinners) to create boards where they can "pin" anything of interest they find on the web. If you've been living in a dark hole or haven't noticed yet, there has been a storm of "Pin It" share button that has hit so many sites - making it easy for internet browsers to quickly pin away.
Pinners compile collections on an infinite number of topics: wedding planning, say, or recipes. Or physics. It's an organizer's dream. If your users are mining the internet for cool stuff, some of those "pins" might just stir some buzz. A Dirty Dancing Page, for example, received over 13,000 LIKES on Facebook. As we stated earlier with Instgram, humans love photos.
4. Bebo: Didn't AOL pay $850 million for this?
Sure did. After buying Bebo for $850 million in 2008, AOL unloaded the networking site in 2010 for $10 million. Bebo may have originally been conceived as an alterative and rival to Facbook but those ambitions (delusions?) seem to have been left behind. These days, Bebo is trying to occupy the same space as MyYearbook - with a dedicated dating site attached and you guessed it - its own gaming outlet. It looks like users are looking for a space where they can combine the perks of both Facebook and MyYearbook - which steers them toward our number 4 - Bebo.
5. Scoop.it: Make your own magazine
Scoop.it is an online content curation platform allowing users to create their own blog-like spaces that allows you to pull content from all over the web and re-publish it into attractive templates. Effectively, you become the editor of your own online magazine. It's part of the mash-up movement the web has sparked, repurposing, remixing and re- contextualizing content into something new.
Scoop.it is promising because of the nature of their service. Just like Pinterest, Scoop.it offers users an easy way to collect and curate the things they discover online. Spotlighting some user-generated gems might be a great way to attract Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers, as well as showcasing the value of the app itself.
Rounding out our top 10 social media sites and apps with the highest growth rates are:
10. Hacker News
Follow the stats, trends, news and updates for the entire Social Media universe at Track Social's Social Media Zone. What shows up on today's Leaderboard, might just be tomorrow's most ubiquitous platform.
**This article was based on the Leaderboard as of Monday, May 7, 2012. Actual Leaderboard changes on an ongoing basis.