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.