New social media platforms: what’s the next big thing?


Katherine Middleton, Opinion Editor

Recently, it seems that there is a new social media app sensation every time you turn around.  Twitter led the pack in 2006, and every year since there has been a new app consumers just can’t get enough of.

Instagram has been getting all of the attention for the past few years, but there are new apps that are trying to take it’s place. This year, apps like Ello, Yik Yak and Timehop have made it even harder for us to put our phones down.

The hype around Ello began in early October. The app boasts an ad-free platform that is similar to Facebook socially, but is closer to Twitter visually, although it offers features that neither of them have. Through Ello, you can organize the people on your feed into two lists, friends and “noise,” but no one in either group will ever know what group you’ve put them into.

Like the early days of Facebook, Ello is invite-only, but you can apply for an invite on their website if you don’t have any friends already signed up. Unlike Facebook, Ello doesn’t sell your information to third parties. The basic version of Ello is free, but if you want to use extra features and make your user experience unique it will cost an extra dollar or two.

Yik Yak has become popular in the last few months, allowing users to post to the site anonymously without having to create an account. Users can see “yaks” from people nearby, and since it’s anonymous, posts that include names, locations, or anything too specific are deleted due to the nature of the app. Yik Yak relies on your geographic location to operate, and only yaks posted within one and a half miles are visible. In order to combat bullying, Yik Yak is not accessible in areas with high schools or middle schools.  This restriction makes it almost entirely exclusive to college campuses and adults.  Users can “peek” into other locations, such as popular events or other college campuses, but can’t reply to any post that isn’t within their range.

Once a yak is posted, anyone who sees it has the ability to vote up if they like it or down if they don’t, and anything with more than five down votes gets deleted.  Based on a history of votes and replies, users are given “yakarma,” a number that tells you where you stand in the community.

Timehop puts a nostalgic spin on social media apps. It allows users to see what they’ve posted that same day a year or more ago on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and the camera roll on your phone.  The old posts appear in a stream within the app with the ability to share the old posts on your current social media sites. A Facebook account is required to use the app, so if you don’t have one you’d have to make one in order to use it. In addition, the app is only available on iPhone or Android devices.

However, the app isn’t entirely mobile. For users that want to look back on old tweets, downloading your archive from Twitter’s website is required. From there, users follow a series of instructions that will then allow them to view and share their old tweets within the app.

As 2015 approaches, we have many new things to look forward to, especially in the world of social media.  But for now, explore these apps and stay glued to your phone as you wait for the next big thing.