Experian, the global information services company has released a study that shows that social networks other than Facebook and Twitter are seeing a healthy boost to their global market share.

It’s probably not so surprising that the report shows Instagram and Pinterest as global leaders among the niche networks.

The study looked at the growth of Pinterest and Instagram between July 2011 and July 2012 in terms of their share. Instagram, the mobile photo app acquired by Facebook for a cool billion, saw 362% growth in Australia, 132% in Hong Kong, 843% in New Zealand, 17,319% in North America, 8121% in Singapore and 2028% in the UK.

As we have reported in the past, Instagram has certainly grown up with the addition of its corporate-focused blog and the fact that 40% if Interbrand companies which includes many blue chip firms are using Instagram for promotion and sharing.

For comparison, Pinterest saw 798% growth in Australia, 2373% in Hong Kong, 643% in New Zealand, 5124% in North America, 623% in Singapore and 1489% in the UK. It might not be a weighty competitor in contrast with Facebook and Twitter but it certainly shows a willing audience prepared to pin and share the things that appeal to them and this may well include brands and consumer content.

Alternative appeal

This rate of growth for these two sites in particular has resulted in them featuring in the top twenty social media networks used in Singapore, the UK and North America. Other networks such as Reddit in Australia, FanPop in the UK and Stock Twits in the US have also seen significant gains.

James Murray, Digital Insights Manager, Experian feels that it is the alternative nature of these networks that is bringing their success, “The growth of both Instagram and Pinterest over the past year has been phenomenal.  The reason for their success is that they haven’t tried to be ‘another Facebook’.  Instead, they both identified a gap in the market and used the scale of Facebook to reach consumers.”

The good news is that Murray also feels that more alternatives to the large and ubiquitous networks will arise and that niche offerings will become more popular, “Over the next 12 months, we expect to see a proliferation of niche social networks.  Offering deeper functionality combined with a lower technical barrier to entry will mean new leaders in social media being created in a matter of days versus weeks and months.”

So what about niche networks other than Instagram and Pinterest. Well, here’s a taste of some of the results for other online places and their success in different geographical locations.

Google Plus appears to be big in Brazil with a 5750% increase, Reddit is big down under with Australia seeing 177% increase and New Zealand 107%. Singapore appears to love Steam, the network that supports gamers saw a 124% increase.

Businesses are naturally cottoning on to social networks as a place to increase brand awareness and interact with customers. It is more likely that investing in a presence will mean an initial place on Facebook or Twitter. But looking through the results of the Experian study, it’s possible that a balanced albeit fragmented approach to finding an online following.

Image Credit: Shards of Blue