Private social networks are a small but growing trend in 2014, and they’re poised to change business presence on social media by making it much more challenging to reach and influence users. The EXTEND GROUP is actively monitoring the growth of these new networks for business insights and can offer help you to modify your social media strategy for smaller channels like these.

Why private social networks?

Much like early internet forums, private social networks offer users a tighter knit community than they are apt to find on large-scale public forums like Twitter. They stand in sharp contrast to the most popular social channels of today, which are quite public even at the expense of discomfort. Facebook has fallen under criticism for making user privacy both very fluid and very difficult to control. Many social users, particularly teens, want a private place where they can connect. With Mom and Grandma both on Facebook — and Facebook privacy settings tricky at best — the channel loses appeal. Enter a private social network where users control the people with whom they interact and the sense of trust and openness returns.

Private networks making a splash in 2014

By nature, private social networks are more niche than the major players like Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. They include:

Lulu – This app allows ladies to rate men anonymously. Because you sign in with your Facebook account, you’re gender-checked before gaining entry. Guys can download Lulu too and put themselves on it to be rates by women or get real-girl advice on dating questions. The app has an age restriction (17+) and is free to download and use.
Notabli – A very different service, Notabli bills itself a sort of private family network. A set of parents can create a Notabli account, then upload photos, videos, drawing and text messages from (or about) their children. All data on Notabli is kept private unless shared explicitly with another user. By sharing account information, parents can create a highly customized social channel all their own.
Couple – A social network just for lovebirds, Couple surpassed the 1 million user mark in 2013. The app lets each half of a create shared to-do lists, send private texts, “thumbkiss” by touching their thumbs to the screen and perform other simple actions.
Path – Path operates somewhat like Facebook in its early years: Highly customizable privacy settings and a small user base. Path limits a user to 150 friends to create a circle of trust among known peers.