13 New Social Tools for Your Web Design Business

Is bigger always better?

Nearly every web designer knows about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. And it’s not a bad idea to have a presence on those sites.
woman in office pointing at plasma panel with social media

When it comes to social networks, the newest players are smaller and more exclusive. Some are invitation only. Others are niched–available only to members of a specified group. Most of them are mobile-friendly. They may even leverage other social media platforms.

Today’s new social media sites may become the giants of tomorrow. Witness the rise of Pinterest. For that reason alone, it’s worth checking these new tools out. But I think that you’ll agree with me that your web design business will benefit right now from the use of some of these tools.

13 New Social Tools

Here are some new social tools that web designers and others may be interested in (in alphabetical order):

    1. BeFunky. This Instagram competitor is both social media and a software app. The easy-to-use tool lets you modify your photos using wide variety of built-in filters and overlays. When you’ve got your photos just the way you want them, use the tool to share them on Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Twitter. There’s also a BeFunky gallery where you can display your best images. A basic account, that limits your resolution, is free. Paid premium accounts are also available.
    2. Bloomfire. This community-based tool is all about sharing information. It uses a collaborative approach to gather relevant and accurate information to the needs of businesses. It’s also not free, although they offer a free trial. Technically, the company refers to their product as a knowledgebase, not as social media site. It also integrates with many established social networking sites. This type of paid sharing site may well be the future of online social communities.
    3. Branch. The purpose of Branch is to foster high quality conversations. As opposed to the typical status updates found on most social media sites, I suppose. The platform makes use of other social media tools, most notably Twitter. To participate in a conversation on Branch, you have to be invited. However, anyone can see a Branch conversation. A Branch conversation can be embedded into a post, such as this one found on a post at FastCompany.
    4. Flipboard. Did you ever wish there was a magazine designed just for you. This mobile-friendly app lets you aggregate your online favorites from your social networks in a simple, yet compelling magazine format. It’s a great new twist on social bookmarking. Designed for a mobile environment, your Flipboard will run on your iPhone or iPad. However, Flipboard recently announced that magazines created through Flipboard can be seen through most web browsers.


    1. Ghost. Ghost is an open source blogging platform that launched in 2013. The concept is to make blogging and journalism easier and more accessible. It’s mobile-friendly. It’s free, and it’s designed to compete directly with WordPress. Before you ask yourself whether we really need another blogging platform, consider that all current platforms started somewhere. And Ghost has some pretty big names behind it. If you currently design themes, you’ll want to keep an eye on this.
    2. Inbound.org. This site is niched. The niche is content on inbound marketing related topics such as SEO, content marketing, and social media. You can see a graphic illustrating the Inbound.org topics here. It was created by one of the founders of SEOmoz and one of the founders of Hubspot. It works in conjunction with Twitter, and in fact, you’ll use your Twitter account to create an account and sign in.
    3. Medium. Medium is a new collaborative writing platform founded by some of the same folks who originally created Twitter. It’s also a very elite platform, with in-house editors. Like many of the new social media networks, Medium falls into a gray area. Users and others wonder, is this an online publication or social media? Of course, we shouldn’t expect new social sites to fit into the old mode. Take a look at Medium if you’re looking for a different way to present your ideas.
    4. Nextdoor. What if there were a social media network for your neighborhood? Well, now there is. This network is limited to those who live in your neighborhood. Personally, I love the idea of empowering neighborhoods, which this social network has the potential to do. Getting to know your closest neighbors is also not a bad idea from a business perspective.

Social network, media and marketing

  1. Pheed. This free mobile social microblogging platform was launched in 2012. It allows users to share a wide variety of information including images, videos, texts, audio, and more. In fact, it can aggregate all your social media in one location. You can also purchase content through Pheed. Proponents of Pheed tend to like either the slick and easy-to-use interface or the ability to promote and sell content. It also has the reputation of being popular with teens.
  2. Sgrouples. Sgrouples has two main strengths: its ability to create groups and its strong commitment to privacy. In fact, their commitment to privacy is a big part of their online brand. They even feature a Privacy Bill of Rights on their site. You can use the platform’s group feature to connect with clients, colleagues, or prospects as well as friends and family. The tool includes personal cloud storage for each user as well as the ability to aggregate content from other social sites.
  3. SlideShare. Having been founded in 2006, SlideShare’s not exactly new. But most people still don’t realize its social media applications. Designed to create presentations, those presentations are increasingly being embedded in blogs and making their way onto other social media platforms. Maybe that’s because SlideShare partners with most social media platforms. The user base for this tool is large, with over 51 million viewers a month. It’s also being used by everyone from the White House to NASA.
  4. Thumb. Did you ever need to know what others thought of a piece of artwork, music, or even clothing? If so, the mobile social site Thumb was designed for you. The goal of Thumb is to allow people to ask questions and get quick answers. When you log in you are immediately given the opportunity to ask for an opinion or give an opinion in various categories. Art, Design & Photography is a category. You can also participate by voting (thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral).
  5. Vine. This new mobile social tool from the owners of Twitter allows you to create and share short videos. So far, video length is limited to under seven seconds. Once a video is created, it can be shared. Finished videos can be posted on Vine, Twitter, or Facebook. This social tool was recently updated. The good news is that Vine is still free.

Your Turn

Did I miss any of the newest social media networks or tools? Have you used any of these new social sites?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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