Though Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook has hit an astonishing one billion members, other social sites are slowly but surely making their mark. Here’s a quick check-list.

Take a quick look around at your friends, and you’re sure to see at least half of your them snapping away to upload photos on Facebook or messaging and updating status from their phones. It’s clear that this social networking site has had a huge impact on our lives. It’s revolutionised our trips, our parties, friend groups and much more.

Though Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook has hit an astonishing one billion members, other social sites are slowly but surely making their mark. Each one serves slightly different purposes, creating a niche in the market for themselves, and it seems like the masses love it. Take a look at some of these sites making their way up the ladder rather fast.

The contenders

Who are the major players in this market, besides Facebook?

Tumblr: This unique website allows users to create mixed-media blogs, posting anything from text and quotes to pictures and videos. Users are allowed to make their blogs private or share them with the public. Users can also follow other blogs to see what their friends (or just other people around the world) are up to. Today, its popularity seems to stem from the fact that it basically lets a user ‘download’ their thoughts in multiple forms, through an easy-to-use ‘dashboard’ platform.

Pinterest: Though barely two years old, this website has captured the interest of many, especially among younger audiences. The site allows users to ‘pin’ photos that they like, spanning many categories: arts and crafts, clothing, food, movies … you name it! Users can also look through other ‘pinboards’ for inspiration, and can ‘like’ or ‘re-pin’ images. While the site is not widely used in India, its influence is slowly spreading, as many brands shift their focus to advertising on Pinterest.

Instagram: Turn to your best friends and ask them if they’ve heard of Instagram. You can bet that they have. Instagram is everyone’s new favourite photo-sharing site and application. From snapping pictures with your family and friends and editing them with cool effects to taking professional photographs for public viewing, Instagram serves many purposes. Though it might get a little annoying at times to have your “photographer” friend snap pictures of you on his/her camera phone and load them on Instagram, everyone can appreciate the unique social opportunities that this site provides.

Twitter: A little over six years old, Twitter has become popular (and sometimes infamous!) among celebrities, news icons and musicians. For those of you who are a little behind times, Twitter allows users to send little messages called ‘tweets’ of 140 characters or less to those who are ‘following’ their feed. It also allows users to ‘re-tweet’ a post that they liked. A friend of mine was recently overjoyed when her favourite actor ‘re-tweeted’ her post about his new movie. It is just another way in which the media and the public are becoming closer, thanks to this digital age.

The others: There are many other social sites slowly gaining attention from users. Meet up shows people the ‘happenings’ around town, according to their interests and preferences. LinkedIn serves more as a professional area to find people for jobs and let employers know that you’re looking. Flickr is popular with those interested in photography and allows users to browse through millions of beautiful images shot globally. The list goes on. But these sites are yet to gain much ground in India, especially in Chennai.

The failures

Sites like Orkut, Google + and Hi5 have been on the social networking scene as well. But they haven’t lasted all too long — or at least, they don’t seem to be as popular with this generation’s digital users. Why? As a grade X student, Shriya K. put it, “Everyone’s already on Facebook. Making the switch seems way too hard, since everything you need and everyone you interact with has already gathered on one website.” Others agree. Facebook has ensured such a large following for itself that getting everyone to switch to other platforms is quite difficult. This is definitely a reason for the ‘Google +’ fail, as people have now termed it. Further, each site has a different feature to offer, and all these are constantly being added and re-invented by the Facebook team. Even though the other social platforms might be more attractive or more user-friendly, people want to stick to what they know best.

I use Instagram to upload my photos and edit them at the same time so I can share my photos with friends. Let alone sharing it with friends, it’s sharing your artwork with the world. I’d say around 300 of my friends are out there. It’s something that’s picked up in trend and a lot of people are getting hooked on to it, because it can be used easily with many devices. What I like best is the fact that you can edit your photos on Instagram, including adding blur etc., and also the option, which lets you to share the picture on Facebook and places outside Instagram. - Yadhushan Mahendran

I started using Tumblr for a college project, but then it was so great that I continued. At least 20 or 30 people that I know in real life are on there, and are active, so I’d definitely say that it’s a popular site. What I love about it is that it’s a community for people to create, to talk about, and to share things that they are passionate about – and that original work gets credited to a much larger extent than on other sites, in my opinion! - Chaitra Subramaniam

I’ve been on Google + for almost a year now. I find it to be much better than Facebook, actually. Though more people are now switching to Google + in my friends’ circle, I find that the same number of close friends who were on Facebook are on Google + as well. I feel that Google + hasn’t been as successful as Facebook because of the misconceptions surrounding Google’s ability to create an amazing social site, after their failure with Orkut. However, I genuinely believe that Google+ is superior to Facebook for virtual social interactions, in many ways. - Srishti Haldipur


Coming soon: Free Wi-Fi for Facebook users November 5, 2012