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Top 20 New Social Media Networks for 2022

by Josh Howarth
May 16, 2022

In modern society, it’s virtually impossible that someone hasn’t heard of social networking giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

What you may not have heard about, however, are the dozens of new social networks geared towards serving niche markets.

From pregnant mothers to African American professionals and more, here are twenty of the hottest social networks for 2022.

1. Locket

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5-Year Search Growth: 600%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, CA

Users: 2M+

Summary: As networks like Facebook and Instagram have proven, we love seeing photos of friends and family. And with the Locket app, users can stream photos from their loved ones right on their smartphone’s home screen.

Similar to a digital picture frame, Locket rotates a continually updated feed of pictures from close friends. And when they say “close,” they mean it: Locket limits each user to exchanging pics with just five loved ones.

2. Sunroom

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5-Year Search Growth: 1033%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: 2020

Location: Los Angeles, US

Users: Unknown

Summary: Over the past few years, adult-leaning content-sharing apps have gained enormous momentum. Many of these platforms, however, are run by men and have come under scrutiny for everything from body-shaming to pornography-related merchant account violations.

Sunroom, however, is owned and operated by women who share an aggressively body-positive, sex-worker friendly company culture (as is outlined in their Manifesto). More importantly, they’re aiming to steal market share from billion-dollar producing competitor OnlyFans.

3. Supernova

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5-Year Search Growth: 123%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: Oct 7, 2012

Location: London, UK

Users: Unknown

Summary: Over the last decade, both social entrepreneurship and environmentally conscious entrepreneurship have emerged as highly popular trends. At the same time, millennials are utilizing social media and crowd-funding sites to support causes they believe in ways unseen in prior generations.

To take advantage of these trends, Supernova positions itself as the social network that gives back. In particular, they claim to share 60% of all ad revenue with charities of the users’ choosing. In March of 2022, for example, they funneled their income toward Ukraine.

4. PearPop

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5-Year Search Growth: 7700%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: 2020

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Users: 10K+

Summary: Over the past few years, influencer marketing has emerged as a new and highly powerful form of paid promotion. From bootstrapped startups to Fortune 500 brands, the list of companies relying on “influencers” to promote their products and services is nearly endless. Especially as it relates to Instagram and YouTube.

With that said, the Instagram Direct Messenger platform is primitive at best while YouTube has no messaging feature whatsoever. PearPop, however, was created to solve this problem. Branded as the “Creator Collaboration” app, PearPop exists for the sole purpose of helping businesses connect with creators who are eager to monetize their following. And with over $16M in funding raised over multiple rounds, they seem to be doing something right.

5. Yubo

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5-Year Search Growth: 1200%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: Oct 2015

Location: Paris, France

Users: 50M

Summary: While Instagram Stories made short form videos popular, one could argue TikTok took the live video to the stratosphere. Since then, a variety of social networks have attempted to jump on the live video train with mixed results. Yubo, however, seems to have found its niche.

In what is essentially a hybrid between Omegle, dating apps, and Facetime, Yubo bunches users based on their interests and then allows them to engage in “social, live video chats.” Unlike TikTok, however, Yubo doesn’t offer a scrolling-based timeline. Instead, users connect with strangers with the implicit goal of allowing them to share their “real selves” in a safe space.

6. Twitter Spaces

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5-Year Search Growth: 1050%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: March 21, 2006

Location: San Francisco, US

Users: 397M

Summary: While Twitter itself has been around for over a decade, Twitter Spaces has invigorated what many saw as a stagnating platform. After seeing the success of ClubHouse in 2020, Twitter stole a page from Facebook’s playbook and copied the essence of the ClubHouse app right into their existing app.

Since then, the live audio streaming platform has become a hit amongst influencers from a variety of backgrounds. In fact, Twitter has stated they expect to add 315M users by 2023 thanks to their Spaces feature.

7. Tagged

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5-Year Search Growth: 170%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2004

Location: San Francisco, CA

Users: 300M+

Summary: As anyone in the industry knows, the dating-app market is ferociously competitive. While first-to-market movers like Tinder have managed to pass the test of time, the app store is littered with hundreds of failed dating apps.

With that said, African American focused Tagged seems to have caught on (for the time being at least). Branded as the place where “you can be yourself” because “you’re already lit fam,” Tagged combines the swiping feature seen on many dating apps with the ability to initiate live video calls with matches.

On the one hand, the site claims to have 300M+ users. On the other, iTunes App Store reviews reveal many of those accounts may be fake.

8. HalloApp

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5-Year Search Growth: 6500%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: 2017

Location: Palo Alto, CA

Users: Unknown

Summary: While most social networks are designed to grow one’s network as large as possible (thanks to the Network Effect), HalloApp takes social networking in the opposite direction.

Built by two previous WhatsApp employees, HalloApp is the social network for people you actually have a real relationship with. While they don’t necessarily limit users to X number of contacts, this isn’t the app for people looking to build a following.

Instead, HalloApp is focused on privacy and eliminating the behind-the-scenes data mining that’s landed industry behemoth Facebook in hot water. In fact, aside from connecting you with the people already in your phone’s Contact List, HalloApp gathers no personal information on its users whatsoever.

9. BAND

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5-Year Search Growth: 73%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: 2013

Location: Palo Alto, CA

Users: 300K+

Summary: Despite their popularity in general, most social networks - and messaging apps in particular - are poor tools for effectively communicating with groups. Important messages get pushed down, event invites can be hard to find, etc.

With BAND, however, the user interface and user experience have been built for this specific purpose. Designed to help teams and team leaders communicate more easily, BAND labels itself as a tool for simplifying and streamlining group communication. And with 10-15 million visitors per month (per SimilarWeb), and just six employees (per LinkedIn), one would assume BAND’s operating margins are quite high.

10. eToro

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5-Year Search Growth: 136%

Search Growth Status: Peaked

Year Founded: 2007

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Users: 20M+

Summary: Despite the industry’s recent downturn, the number of people participating in crypto has grown substantially over the past few years (it's estimated that 23% of Americans own crypto). From Twitter threads to Reddit forums, investors have proven more than willing to network, discuss, and opine on all things crypto.

In what is essentially a social network bolted onto a trading platform, eToro has taken the solitary activity of trading and turned it into a social one. In addition to allowing investors to “follow” traders - and the content and trading tips they release - traders can also allow users to quite literally copy their trading strategies. An industry first, one could argue this feature is a large part of what’s made eToro so successful.

11. Quest

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5-Year Search Growth: 391%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2005

Location: Bangalore, India

Users: Unknown

Summary: Since the 2020 pandemic, employers have found it increasingly difficult to find employees with the skillsets they require to operate in the modern economy. At the same time, baby boomers and members of Gen Z feel the skills they’ve developed over their lifetime are becoming increasingly irrelevant in today’s job market. Enter Quest App.

Founded by Quest Alliance, a youth empowerment-focused non-profit, Quest App is a digital learning platform that aims to provide users with “employability skills” for the 21st century. More importantly, they provide support from a large community of learners and trainers. With 11.5 million job openings in the US alone - a record high - it's easy to see how both employers and prospective employees could benefit from the Quest App.

12. Peanut

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5-Year Search Growth: 44%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2016

Location: London, UK

Users: 2.5M+

Summary: One of the largest problems with today’s social networking sites is the difficulty involved in establishing real, genuine connections with strangers. From professional networking sites to dating apps, many of today’s networks seem to facilitate short-term, superficial interactions at the expense of creating real, long-term relationships.

Peanut, however, aims to solve this. With a focus on a woman’s stage of life (fertility, pregnancy, motherhood and menopause), Peanut aims to connect women who can provide real, legitimate support to one another. In particular, they emphasize “care, empathy, and collectivism” as their core values. And with $11M raised over four rounds since 2017, Peanut seems to be doing something right.

13. Valence

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5-Year Search Growth: 262%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2019

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Users: Unknown

Summary: As companies like LinkedIn and even Twitter have proven, there’s a massive demand for social networking sites focused on career / professional networking. At the same time, dating apps like BlackPeopleMeet and BLK have shown there’s an equally large demand for race-specific platforms.

Combining these two concepts, Valence offers an African-American focused professional networking site. Similar to LinkedIn, the platform claims to offer networking opportunities, a job board, recruiting and more. Further, many high-profile companies, including Amazon, PayPal and Reddit use Valence for hiring.

14. Elpha

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5-Year Search Growth: 50%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: Jan 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

Users: 75,000+

Summary: From books to business gurus, products and services focused exclusively on women have proven to be highly successful. And similar to what we saw with Peanut - the women’s support app - the same principle applies to social media.

Continuing the trend of taking already successful networks and focusing them down on a sub-niche, Elpha can be thought of like LinkedIn for women (including and with a heavy emphasis on serving trans-women and non-binary people who identify as women). And that niche focus seems to be paying off – SimilarWeb shows Elpha’s website traffic continues to hover near record highs.

15. TikTok

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5-Year Search Growth: 9700%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2003

Location: Beijing, China

Users: 1.1B+

Summary: While TikTok is by no means “new” in 2022, its explosive growth over the last two years has made it one of the top four largest social media companies on the planet. In fact, according to Cloudflare, TikTok was the most popular website in 2021 (outpacing both Google and Facebook).

Considering TikTok was virtually unheard of prior to 2020, both its growth and continued dominance are particularly impressive. Unlike Instagram, which allows for sharing of both photos and long-form videos, TikTok limits its feed to live, short-form video clips (many of which involve music and/or dancing).

16. NextDoor

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5-Year Search Growth: 15%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: Oct 2011

Location: San Francisco, CA

Users: 3.4M

Summary: As many baby boomers know, there’s a certain nostalgia surrounding American neighborhoods from the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, many look back on the era as a time when people were more intimate and friendly with their neighbors.

Fast forward to today and most people don’t even know the names of the families living two doors down. To address this, and in a return to that nostalgia, NextDoor is a hyperlocal social networking app designed to connect people with their immediate neighbors. From borrowing tools to organizing potlucks, NextDoor aims to enable local community members to build stronger bonds with one another.

17. Caffeine

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5-Year Search Growth: 54%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: April 1, 2016

Location: California, US

Users: Unknown

Summary: As multiple companies on this list have proven, taking a proven social networking concept - and cloning it to focus on a sub-niche of the industry - is a proven strategy. And what better network to clone than TikTok - the live video giant that’s risen from relative obscurity to getting more downloads than Instagram in just two years.

Meet Caffeine. Copying TikTok’s emphasis on live video, Caffeine has taken aim at the urban African American crowd. With content that includes rap battles, street dancing, standup comedy and more, Caffeine promotes itself through partnerships with high-profile, African American influencers and celebrities. A tactic that gained them almost half a million website visitors in March of 2022.

18. ClassMates

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5-Year Search Growth: 0%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: 1995

Location: Seattle, WA

Users: 70M+

Summary: Depending on your age, you may or may not recall the fact that Facebook.com was first released to college students in the early 2000s. Because of this, one of the primary uses of the platform was for college students to connect with their previous high school classmates. A phenomenon that led many early users to treat Facebook as both a continually updated yearbook and a resource for organizing high school reunions.

Over time, however, Facebook opened its doors to the public and evolved into much, much more than just a site for connecting with classmates. Ironically, ClassMates.com - which existed years before Facebook launched - has achieved great success fulfilling that exact purpose. In fact, SimilarWeb shows ClassMates is one of the top 350 websites in the US, continually attracting 22+ million visitors per month.

19. WattPad

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5-Year Search Growth: 42%

Search Growth Status: Regular

Year Founded: Nov 7, 2006

Location: Toronto, Canada

Users: 90M+

Summary: As many forums have proven over the years, both writers and readers love to congregate around - and share their opinions about - stories. From industry heavyweights like GoodReads to erotica forums, story lovers are both highly active and voracious in their appetite for new material.

To tap into that demand, social network WattPad brands itself as the place “Where stories live.” Unlike Reddit or most storytelling forums, however, WattPad’s social network aspect makes it dramatically easier for writers to build a loyal tribe of fans (without having to market themselves). Further, they offer a host of writing tools and resources, including the possibility of getting their work published in book format or converted into a TV series or movie.

20. Crunchyroll

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5-Year Search Growth: 233%

Search Growth Status: Exploding

Year Founded: 2008

Location: San Francisco, CA

Users: 120M

Summary: While people who aren’t fans might not know it, anime is one of the largest entertainment sub-niches on the planet. In 2020, it was estimated to be worth $22.6B. To put that in perspective, the worldwide movie industry was worth $41B in 2019.

With so much money sloshing around - and so many fans - it should come as no surprise a host of blogs, forums, etc. have popped up around the anime industry. To tap into that demand, Crunchyroll offers live streaming, blog updates, and social networking (reminiscent of YouTube’s comment section) all in one. And with 120 million users, they seem to be doing something right.

Conclusion

With some of the largest companies on the planet operating in space, the social network industry is ferociously competitive.

Despite this, startups across the globe are finding ways to steal market share by serving niche markets and meeting unmet needs. A trend we expect to continue into 2023 and beyond.