Although Facebook, Twitter and YouTube play a big part in daily life, students have found other sites to meet their Internet needs.
Through word of mouth and chance finds, the lesser-known sites are often catered to a certain demographic and give users a sense of satisfaction for finding them.
“I hate popular websites,” said Samantha Green, a freshman general education major from Salt Lake City. “Popular websites have really annoying advertisements that pop up in random places.”
The amount of advertisements on a website is generally a major turnoff to patrons, said Jon Maxfield, a CIT instructor at Dixie State University. If users have a site they know of that will provide the same service as a popular website, but with fewer advertisements, most people will switch to the lesser-known web page.
Mark Miller, a sophomore art major from Las Vegas, is an aspiring photographer. Pheed.com allows him to sell his photos on the Internet rather than broadcast them for free, as he used to do on Facebook or Twitter.
“I’ve got my Facebook and Twitter connected to my Pheed account,” Miller said. “I’ve actually gotten a couple of local buyers and that’s led me to gigs.”
Other sites that are up and coming are Thumb, which utilizes personal crowd sourcing, and Medium, which is an invitation-only social media website. CNN produced a top seven list of social media websites to watch for this year, which can be found at: money.cnn.com/gallery/magazines/fortune/2013/01/10/2013-social-networks.fortune/4.html
In this day and age, new social media websites are cropping up every couple of months. So, what makes these websites popular?
“I like being one step ahead of everyone else,” said Jacob Hansen, a freshman communication major from Taylorsville. “I remember when MySpace was the huge thing—as soon as Facebook came along, I had an account before my friends. I hate being left behind and have to keep up with the newest networking advances.”
Maxfield said this type of behavior isn’t uncommon.
“People generally have to be ahead of everyone else,” Maxfield said. “When one thing advances, people will want to be a part of it, despite lack of popularity.”
Facebook and MySpace were essentially the same thing in the beginning—both were social media websites that allowed a user to connect with other people, Maxfield said. Facebook was more user-friendly and was geared toward a specific audience. The need for that audience (college students) to connect on a personal level without the interruption of other users not in their age group was great enough that, when Facebook came out, they switched over from MySpace.
“To make your website popular, you need to target one audience and focus on them,” Maxfield said.
Many developers have caught on to the idea of targeting one specific audience. Lady Gaga fans can log on to littlemonsters.com, while amateur photographers can get the Flayvr app. The trick to finding those more obscure websites (whether they are the next big thing or something more user-oriented) is knowing where to search.
Google is most everyone’s first choice when it comes to searching for something on the Internet. More often than not, you can find what you’re looking for within the first few links. Maxfield suggests if you want to find lesser-known websites, try clicking on links further down the search page.
Another good idea for finding obscure websites is to ask someone. Whether you ask people on the Internet or a friend, someone somewhere knows of a website that will meet your needs, even if it’s not the most popular.