Considering the topic, maybe you think I’m going to talk about the Big “F”. Or maybe the Big “G”. Or even the growing “Y”. Well, I will mention these social media networks, but we’ll be focussing on the disruptive rise of the challengers to Facebook, Google+ and Youtube. The minnows, so to speak. But maybe not minnows for very long !

Facebook now has over 1 billion users, and are starting to roll out their own Search Engine. Google have their own Search Engine, and as we know have decided to create their own social network, in various forms culminating in their Google Plus offering. Google Plus claims to have around 400 million global users, making up around 25% of global internet users. But this pales compared to 50% of global internet users using Facebook monthly.

While Youtube ranks 3rd and Twitter ranks 4th in terms of Social Platform Active Usage,  GlobalWebIndex warns that Twitter happens to be the fastest growing network of them all in comparative terms.

And while these 4 super social media networks are all steadily growing, so are the up-and-comers.

LinkedIn, which professes to cater for the professional market, and corporate networking, has now hit over 200 million users from over 200 countries. It is registering over 170k new users every day. What makes Linkedin a veritable contender here is that it has a much more rounded revenue model, including advertising, recruitment tools,  as well as from premium subscription services. Its stock has risen and beaten street expectations every quarter since it went public in May 2011. Belonging to LinkedIn is super useful, not only if you are a professional or marketing your own business, but even if you are looking for a job. There’s almost no reason NOT to belong to LinkedIn.

So now we come to some esoteric sounding social media networks.

It would not be surprising that many internet users may not be using Pinterest and Tumblr, let alone know what they are. Yet they are both rapidly growing their user base.  According to GWI, in the last half of 2012, the number of active Pinterest users grew by approximately 17%, while those of Tumblr grew by approximately 8%. In February 2013, comScore claims Pinterest had just under 50 million users. comScore also reports that 2012 as a whole saw Tumblr, with ‘just’ 30 million visitors, ranked second after Facebook in terms of share of time spent on social networking sites.

As growth statistics for Pinterest and Tumblr suggest, imagery is an important and compelling reason for sharing and caring. Pinterest utilises a pinboard-type framework where users can pin and share pictures and video, while Tumblr users can also post and share multimedia content in a blog format.

With the ever growing popularity of smartphones, it is no surprise that mobile apps are being  created specifically for the mobilised social networker. Instagram, sporting over 100 million users as of January 2013, allows users to take or upload pictures, apply filters and then syndicate their creations to other social media networks.

A natural extension to images is video, hence the birth of Vine, a mobile app which caters for very short video clips which can also be distributed to a variety of other social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. While it is a free app, growth is limited as it is only available to iOS ( Apple ) users.

Not content having different apps for images and video ?

Well, Pheed may the answer to your problems. Launched in the last quarter of 2012, Pheed rapidly became the #1 ranked App in the Apple Top Charts social category. Yes, even higher than Facebook and Twitter. It provides a unified platform to cater for sharing all your digital content in the form of subscription channels. While courting a wide demographic, the teen market is said to be driving its growth. Forbes and Inc have described Pheed as the new Twitter. It has a word limit of 420, compared to 140 of Twitter, plus you can actually copyright and monetise your Pheeds.

And you can probably add the following social media networks to the “watch this space in 2013 ” list including ; Thumb, Orkut , Ning, Flayvr ( and I have to at least mention Stumbleupon ).

It is easy to see that the ingenuity of developers and internet users alike are spawning new and innovative products at a rapid pace. As a double whammy, the growth of mobile is ensuring the explosive growth of those social media networks that offer any type of stickiness.

Which social media networks will survive and flourish ? I can’t wait to find out !