Let’s face it, there are probably too many social networking sites for us to handle on a daily basis. There’s Facebook and Twitter, the two reigning social networks and Google trying to be in their league with Goggle+. Then there are other big networks such as Pinterest, which supposedly is worth 7.7 billion and could arguably be the next one to be bought out by a bigger company just like how Instagram was bought by Facebook last week. But there are literally thousands of many other smaller social networks that most of us have not even heard of. So many that any new player in the game who wish to stand out now must try to be a niche network. One such new player is Familyleaf, a new social network that focuses on families.
Familyleaf is founded by 19 year olds Wesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta. They were able to get funding and guidance from Y Combinator, a center for startup funding at Mountain View, CA. The key aspect of Familyleaf is that it is for you and your relations so you can have better privacy between you and your family members without your coworkers or friends nosing around. Familyleaf is one of many small by design social networking sites, such as Path, available only on smart phones, has a maximum of 150 friends and Pair, which like Path is for smart phones only, is as small as a social network can be: just one other person. As for Familyleaf, one of the key reasons it was created was to purposely limit who you can invite, your family. “I don’t want to have to filter myself for two completely different audiences,” Ajay Mehta says. Zhao adds, “It’s no more feasible than thinking that you could use Facebook for both friends and work. It’s as if there would be no need for LinkedIn.” Mehta and Zhao has a point. Facebook can be a bit complicated for some, including me, to navigate all the settings to make sure what I post can only be seen by some and not by all. But with Familyleaf all that complexity is taken out when it comes to your family.
As you can see from the photo above, FamilyLeaf allows status updates, contact information, and photos to be shared with the rest of your family. Though you can do all this through the site’s homepage, you can also update the page by sending to an email address where Familyleaf links it up automatically based on the email. Photos can be uploaded from other social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Picasa, or from a user’s hard drive. A gatekeeper keeps control of the family on the site even though users can be allowed in multiple families too. For example, you may have families in the United States, Asia and Europe and you can belong to any one of those families. Familyleaf is already international friendly. Besides English, they have versions in Chinese, Hindi, Greek, Russian, French, Spanish and Italian
This is not the first time a family-only social networking site exists, but Familyleaf’s simple and easy-to-use approach can make it worthwhile for those who just want to keep in touch with their family. As I mentioned earlier, most of the big social networking sites don’t have specificity in mind. Goggle+ is on the right track with their circles system which is more interest based than Facebook. But those two social networks have just too much in similarity and that is why Google+ despite its huge number of registered users is still very much an inactive site. Though Familyleaf probably will never be as big as Facebook, they definitely can corner the social network market for families in the coming months and years as more people are aware of it and see the need for a network that actually works for the family.
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