10 places to network online that aren’t owned by Facebook

I scoured the web, so you don’t have to…

theinspirationspace.co alternative social media for small business

Inspired by Basecamp’s recent announcement that they are now 100% ‘Facebook Free,’ I’m on a mission to follow suit and have The Inspiration Space off all Facebook-owned channels by the end of the year. From the long list of data breaches to lying about the true reach of video, Facebook actually makes me feel a little bit icky 😒.


Where do I even start?

Now, I’m totally aware that this little mission of mine could all go down in flames. Like the time I tried to go Vegan only to cave and eat a Five Guys burger after 3 short weeks 🤷🏾‍♀️. In fact, it’s a damn sight easier to give up animal-based products than it is to stop using Facebook-owned social media channels when you’re bootstrapping a start-up or running a small business.

However, putting my personal opinion of Facebook’s ethical values aside, it’s actually starting to make business sense to explore alternative channels and communities. For instance, Pinterest drives a higher number of conversions than Instagram and the constantly changing algorithms and limited organic reach is resulting in more and more people logging off Facebook, Instagram and Messenger completely.

As I’m only just starting on this journey, the first thing to do is find alternative places to network, raise your profile or simply hangout online.

Twitter

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I have developed a serious soft spot for Twitter as of late. Arguably one of the most fun and easy to use social network of all, it’s a great place to chat in real-time with journalists, influencers and other businesses.

The limited character length means you keep your messaging short, informative and snappy. It’s worth hanging out on there for the  #journorequest hashtag alone. You can pitch your business to local, national and even international media - I answered a request and ended up in Forbes last year!

According a report by Twitter and Research Now, 93% of people who follow small- and medium-sized business on Twitter plan to purchase from the SMEs they follow. Just let that sink in. Are you on Twitter? Come and say ‘Hello!’ to me here 👋🏾.



Dribbble

Dribbble is a community of designers sharing screenshots of their work, process, and projects. A place where creatives from a variety of specialisms connect, collaborate and offer constructive feedback on work in progress, if you’re a photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, web developer or anything in the visual arts, Dribble is a cool-ass place to raise awareness of your work and be inspired by your peers.

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Perfect if you feel disconnected from the ‘buzz’ and lucrative commercial opportunities that you can access via London’s creative scene, stay up to date with what’s trendy, find out what’s overused or set your account status to “Hire Me” if you are actively looking for home-based freelance projects.


The free account comes with a lot of restrictions - namely you can’t make your work public until you’ve received an invitation from another community member. For $5 a month you can choose to go pro, which gives you full access plus the option to pitch for high profile work.



The Inspiration Space

New for 2019, The Inspiration Space has a private online community of its own that lives in Slack. A place where members of The Inspiration Space can ask for help, participate in virtual brainstorms and direct message other members, this new online hub helps combat the feelings of loneliness that often go alongside working for yourself.

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Build meaningful relationships away from the noise (and algorithms) of Facebook and Instagram, participate in live Q & A’s with specialist experts to help you level up your skills, share your news or events and gain access to exclusive job opportunities (I frequently receive internal and external requests for supplier recommendations and I post them in the Slack group first 😉).


Included in the annual membership to The Inspiration Space, we’re bridging our exceptional opportunities to connect with likeminded people offline with an online hub for virtual collaboration, skill swapping and accelerated learning.


Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a private social network specifically designed to connect you to your neighbours. You can see what’s on locally or add your events, share information about your business, do market research (the poll function is a great way to find out what people in your ‘hood are interested in), directly reply to requests for help and generally feel more aware of what’s going on in your community.

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Like a local Facebook group but without all the bitching and moaning, Nextdoor is ideal for anyone who wants to promote their services or raise their profile more locally.


Houzz

Houzz is a website and online community for architecture, interior design and decorating enthusiasts. A bit like ‘Not on the High Street’ meets Reddit, Houzz connects businesses in the home improvement space with local homeowners who are serious about hiring the right home professionals for their projects.

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According to the website, 74% of users plan to build, renovate or redecorate in the next two years, which means having a presence on the platform could be a great tool for lead generation.

Whatsmore, Houzz’s integrated shopping experience enables customers to buy your products straight from the site or in the app and you can recommend yourself for relevant projects!


Pinterest

If your business relates to homewares, gifts, interiors, baking or anything wedding-related and you’re not actively using Pinterest, you could be missing some MASSIVE new business opportunities.

Pinterest drives 3.8x more sales than any other social media platform. According to the site, 90% of weekly active pinners (of which there are millions) say Pinterest helps them decide what to purchase and 70% use it to find new products. While 71% of users on other social media platforms say they try new things that they find online, a whopping 98% of pinners do such a thing.

Small businesses with products can increase the rate of conversion by using the ‘Shop the Look’ feature, which allows you to manually tag items in your pin and drive users back to your website where they can browse your entire offering.  


The Dots

Founded by Pip Jamieson in 2014, The Dots is all about; connecting, supporting and championing the people, teams and companies that make ideas happen. Anyone can create a free profile to post their work (as projects) and credit other users that they may have worked with.

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If you’re a creative professional or multi-hyphenated entrepreneur, The Dots is like a cool LinkedIn alternative, with over 10,000 companies and brands like Nike, BBC and and Burberry use the platform to find in-house talent, collaborators and freelancers.

Diversity is at the core of The Dots’ values and culture - the site boasts a user base that is 62%  female, 34% BAME and 16% LGBT (it's also inclusive of neurodiversity and socioeconomic diversity).


ReverbNation


This one is for the musicians among us 👩‍🎤. Launched in 2006, ReverbNation has helped millions of musicians launch and grow their careers. You can promote your music on the world's most popular music sites and keep your fans engaged with simple email and social messaging. The digital distribution feature allows fans to stream and download your music from their favorite sites and apps. The good news? Artists keep 100% of their royalties and rights.

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Designed to make it easier for musicians to both amplify and monetise, Reverbnation members can access exclusive opportunities to place their music in movies and TV commercials, perform at well known festivals or get their tunes in front of influential A & R’s.

 

Meetup

Owned by co-working megabrand, WeWork, Meetup is the largest network of local communities that meet offline about their shared interests and passions. From book clubs to craft brewery crawls to coding workshops, Meetup helps people to connect IRL.

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You can create your own group (a Facebook-free way to build a community), host your own Meetups or attend any number of workshops, courses or networking events.


Mighty Networks


In the mood for being uber disruptive? Then why not join Mighty Networks and create your very own closed social media-based community?

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Founded in 2011 by Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, Gina Bianchini, Mighty Networks has been developed specifically for creators, niche entrepreneurs, and businesses who want to bring content, online classes, community and subscriptions together under one virtual roof.

I’ve played with the platform and Mighty Networks truly gives you everything you need to grow your niche brand or business in 2019.

For an affordable monthly fee of $12/month, your network will be available to your members via the web or an app. With features including custom domain names, Zoom integration, online courses and direct messaging, you can create a superior experience to a Facebook group, much to the delight of your community of fans.  

We’re on the hunt for even more suggestions so if there’s a platform you love that we haven’t listed here, do comment below! 👩🏽‍💻