By: Heather Kuta

When we think of social networks the go-to for many is Facebook, and for good reason. It connects people, places, brands, and information all over the world, in an instant. But, let’s not forget the new, up-and-coming social networks that are at our fingertips to test out. Below is a round up of some of our favorite social networks to leverage this year.

Online Community-Driven Social Network
AnyBeat – AnyBeat is a new social networking site that allows users to be as public, or private, and as close to their physical being or expressive self as they’d like. By allowing users to choose what name, photo, and facts they share, who can view various photos and posts, and overall allowing as little or as much information to be shared, users can be who they want. The space is about socializing with the community, making new friends, and sharing content with others within respectful boundaries. Posts from AnyBeat can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Tumblr, if one is so inclined.  AnyBeat pays high respect to privacy, and thus allows users to make their information and conversations as private as they choose. It also does not allow logins to be used with other sites.

Professional Social Network
BranchOut – Similar to LinkedIn with is target users, BranchOut is primarily useful for connecting users to jobs, recruiters, companies, and other professionals within their current field of work or interest. However, BranchOut takes it one step further offering recruiting and sales tools to users to leverage within the network as well. The benefit of becoming a member of BranchOut is that you’re able to access years of data through the Facebook platform (which BranchOut runs on) and connect people through Facebook profiles, which for many individuals is their top social network profile. Hopefully you know someone that is part of the network already, as BranchOut is another invite-only site.

Social News Network
XYDO – XYDO , a new Social News Network, has made a fairly large splash due to its functionality: the site works like current social news networks (Digg, Hacker News, etc.) but is curated to your preferences through prioritization of content via its’ web platform.  For users not wanting to visit the site directly to get news – do not fret. A tailored email containing 10 to 12 top articles of interest based on a few metrics –  your social interactions, networks, online activity, as well as rated content via a massive online curation team – is conveniently delivered right to your inbox. News without researching for hours? Yes please!

Virtual Pinboard Network
Pinterest – Pinterest dubs itself a “virtual pinboard”, aka it is a way to catalog, organize, and share all of the things that strike a user’s fancy on the internet. Be it on blogs, retail sites or other social networks, users are able to create collections of various things they have “pinned” for ease of browsing and bookmarking all in one go. Other users can just as easily follow, browse, and re-pin other users “pins” to make them their own – no friend request necessary. Pinterest is another social site that integrates with Facebook, allowing users to create a separate login, or to use their Facebook login. Overall, if you are more partial to images rather than words, Pinterest is definitely for you.

Social Photography Network
Instagram – Instagram is a mobile app that allows users to take quick, fun, viral pictures with specialty filters through their mobile device and share them via another social network. The appeal is users can share instances of their lives with one another quickly, and simply, with a creative spin on the photos due to the filter. Simple, usable, good.

Mobile Social Network
Quora – Quora is a collection of questions and answers that are formed, answered, and circulated by the network of users that are members of the community. Quora’s goal is to be the go-to site for all things related to the question at hand, almost as if it were a weeded-out version of an Internet search on the subject, with friends, acquaintances, and family recommendations being taken into consideration (don’t forget, those responses are rated for quality by the community of course!). Quora can be seen as the new way of leveraging the Internet and being able to search topics and questions, rather than spend hours looking for one legitimate source that responds to their question.

Creative Publishing Network
Cargo – Cargo allows members to build and maintain continually changing personal websites that leverage creativity and online works shared by its members. Cargo allows users to build and display their website in various ways Members can follow one another and comment on other’s work, as well as build relationships and their own profile overall within the community. The goal, of Cargo is connecting creative individuals and providing them a platform to share, collaborate, and further push the creative culture of the site as a whole. To maintain its ability to gain, keep, and push top talent, Cargo is accessed by invite only.