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A recent survey conducted by STRATA asked 80 of its agency clients, “Which Social Media are you most likely to use in your clients’ campaigns?” Over 80% noted Facebook as their prime network, with YouTube and Twitter rounding out the top three. A survey by StrongMail reports that brand respondents plan on increasing their 2013 investment in the usual social suspects: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, while MarketingProfs reports that 51.8% plan to boost spending on social media across the board. While there’s little reason to ignore the reigning kings of the social media sphere, early adoption of smaller, niche networks can pay dividends. Here are three social networks to watch in 2013:

Social Networks1. Quora

Quora allows its community of users to post questions and answers on a variety of clearly organized topics. Users can collaborate and suggest edits to questions and answers, creating a cascading pseudo-wiki.

While Quora is not necessarily a sexy network, it is a growing one. According to KISSmetrics, Quora grew an estimated 37,000% between January 2010 and January 2011. In May of 2012, the network secured $50 million in funding.

With growth and expansion comes a greater pool of content that marketers can leverage. While a marketer or brand could make a name for themselves by contributing to the community, a greater opportunity may exist in data mining the network.

For example, a business could research what questions are being asked about topics in their industry and use those pain-points as a basis for their content marketing strategy. If you’re ever short on topics to blog about, simply browse Quora in the category or categories you operate in.

2. Inbound.org

While the brainchild of SEOMoz CEO Rand Fishkin and HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a social network, it is however a vibrant community of the who’s who in the internet marketing world.

Users on Inbound.org can submit articles on a variety of topics – SEO, Social, Mobile, Video, etc. – and members of the community can upvote and comment on submissions. The homepage becomes a Reddit-style leaderboard of the most popular articles. Additional game elements allow users to gain Karma points and track their submissions and upvotes.

Though it’s frowned upon to submit your own articles (or those of your clients), it can be a strong source of referral traffic. Furthermore, you can bet that the most up-to-date information on all aspects of internet marketing is being shared here. Savvy marketers should check the site daily to keep abreast of the industry.

For more information on the future plans for Inbound.org, check out: http://portal.sliderocket.com/CROLD/The-Future-of-Inbound-org

3. Myspace

Yes, Myspace. Before you totally discount the newly refreshed (again) network that everyone loves to hate, spend some time with its new interface and features. Even The Verge admits that Myspace now “…has some nice features that work pretty well.”

Unfortunately, the site is in a closed beta, which means new users must request an invite or get one from a friend. With an invitation, you can login via Facebook for a quick profile build.

True to its roots, Myspace represents an opportunity for musicians and recording artists – no doubt an influence of new co-owner Justin Timberlake. The Independent offers tepid support of its new features for music discovery and media curation on personal profiles.

Despite any stigma it currently carries, Myspace’s new ownership and direction makes it worth keeping an eye on.

What social networks will you be focusing on in 2013? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

For more information about how to use social media in your marketing efforts, download our Increasing Conversions with Social Media guide.

 

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