The Next Social Networks

Gentlement is like Pinterest for dudes

The rage in social networks right now is Pinterest, partly because it’s probably the first social network that has a much higher adoption rate by females than males, and partly because it’s an interesting concept: somewhere between visual social bookmarking and scrapbooking. What also might not be immediately obvious is that it’s just “easier” to interact there. In that way, Pinterest has something in common with Instagram, which is community around photos.

What I’m interested in, though, is Gentlemint, which I keep calling “Pinterest for dudes.” (Again, because Pinterest has a very high level of female users, the content that flows by my screen there, most often, is female-focused.) I’m not at all interested in the technology. Frankly, Pinterest works much better. I’m not interested in the longevity. Pinterest has millions and millions of users. Gentlemint is still cozy. Here’s why I think it’s interesting: because it’s very targeted content curation where the network effect isn’t the goal.

The Next Social Networks

Who cares that Facebook has 850 million users? Investors might care. Advertisers might care. But do you, really and honestly, want to sift through 850 million people? Of course not. Seth Godin said Small is the New Big eons ago. He said Tribes was the way to be. Are you feeling it yet? You will.

Pinterest points to something interesting: absolutely bite-sized curation is a trend to consider. Gentlemint points to the next trend: targeted use of curation technology to build interesting content in a group setting is hot.

Squint just a little. What if you set up a “Pinterest for Guitarists?” Not, “Hey, you can use Pinterest and build guitar boards,” but “Here’s a very targeted site of like-minded people all sharing interesting stuff.

Now, blur your eyes a little. See how it’s much more interesting to build an environment where people with similar passions can curate and share together? Look at Gentlemint again, and realize that this is kind of like Esquire magazine without the meaty articles. By the way, you could just as easily have the articles. It just requires people to write them and tack them to ‘Mint.

Growing a Channel Might Be a Team Sport

In the work I do for Human Business Works, advising mid- to larger-sized companies on customer acquisition strategies around the digital channel, I’m most certainly going to look at niche-curation content platforms as a powerful way to encourage a meaningful interaction with prospects and buyers. If I were working for Hendricks Gin right now, I’d help them build an even narrower-band Gentlemint. And in cases where I want the broader band, I’d work on showing how to integrate marketing into these curation channels in a non-jerky way.

There’s a lot to consider in this trend. Right now, you might just see yourself or your significant other pinning the heck out of recipes and great vacation destinations. Tomorrow, you’ll see a lot of permutations on the mix of tight niche curation plays.

What would you design, if you were building your own “Pinterest for _____?” Who would you target? What would that “magazine” look like? And who would be the likely sponsors of such a play? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Joe Edwards

    Theses *new* networks are just the old niche forums which we find everywhere with a different or more functionality, even Ning was set up for niche.

    • Daniel Decker

      Great point Joe. I think you’re right on. The *new* just takes advantage of a much simpler interface, better leverages technology and refines what was into what is.

    • Chris Brogan

      You’re not wrong. Just prettier. Easier to use. Ning was hard to use (for the “common” person). Pushing a PIN into a board is pretty low-barrier-to-entry.

  • Daniel Decker

    I honestly thought the exact same thing. My wife is all over Pinterest and, like most of her lady friends, I think she is borderline addicted. I have to admit though, I find it neat as well when she shows me cool stuff that she knows I like (not scarves made out of socks or anything but funny quotes or cool small office  setups or innovative uses of ___). The niche ideas and networks that spring up out of things like Pinterest are abundant. The thing is, some of the niche offshots might not make headlines (because the millions of users thing is what makes headlines) but if someone does their niche right, they can curate a great community (and maybe even make some cash). Sadly too many people chase the headlines instead of realizing the power of simply a solid tribe (even if it’s smaller but more targeted).

    • Chris Brogan

      I think there’s such a chance for some interesting niche stuff, not specifically with headlines, but with little pockets of value. It’s like when I complain about Groupon. 

  • Pedro

    Since the topic is social networks, why don’t you use Facebook comments? Any specific reason?

    • Chris Brogan

      Because I loathe FB. 

  • Craig Jarrow

    Chris… my initial reaction was, “Do we really need ANOTHER social network?”

    FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more….

    But, what I really think is happening is the growth of more and more “niche networks.” 

    Social networks don’t have to be Facebook-sized. Instead, they can be small an nimble, catering to their specific fans. 

    You can even create your own. (Love my Path app which only shares with my family.)

    The new social network will be small. :)

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree with the sentiment and seriously hope thats what happens — I just personally hate monopolies :-) — however until such time as we have good interoperability between social networks (not something that the big players will necessarily want) it will always be hard to move to other networks leaving your core base of friends behind.

      And none of us want to have to mess with multiple, disparate, non-integrated,… social networks :(

    • Chris Brogan

      I think so, Craig. I feel it. : ) 

  • Marius Etc

    Another thing that should be taken into account is the addition level of the social network, take Facebook for example, that’s not really the kind of place you would just go check your notifications, and inbox and close, no fb is so good at catching your attention in numerous ways and get you hooked up for hours. A new social network should be thought from the perspective of saving the users time.

    • Chris Brogan

      I believe that FB _used to_ catch us up for hours. I think that’s not going to be true soon. 

  • DianeCorriette

    I have always preferred niche. Looking forward to see what this new trend of curation does.  Being an introvert some days I really wish the online world will sit still just for a little bit :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Can’t wait to see what comes of it. 

      Speaking of Introverts, check out @lisapetrelli ‘s book on it. GREAT stuff. : ) 

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t this sort of what Ning was able to facilitate?  Creating a targeted community for a specific audience?

    • Chris Brogan

      Technically, yes. But it was still too many features. Contrast Ning with Pinterest. Utterly the opposite. 

    • Iam

      My thought exactly. The difference between Ning and Pinterest/Gentlemint is that crowd sourcing around a piece of content, Ning creates a community around a subjects/interests.

      Personally, I think we’re running out of things to do when we begin reinventing social networks. Ning can accomplish what both Pinterest and Gentlemint does if you’re a part of an engaged community.

      And the same thing with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

      I don’t want to discount the value that either new social network offers. All I’m saying is before we go off joining another social network, only to connect with the same people we’re connected to now, let’s examine if we’re maximizing the use available where we are now and get more from the kind of engagement we may seek around a piece of content or subject.

  • Danielmcvicar

    Hi Chris
    Your article took me back to latenitemash and our idea to put together a creative community.


    • Chris Brogan

      Wow! I remember! How are you? It’s been far too long. We should connect. Hell, you should shoot some video with me. : ) 

  • Michael Coppens

    It was our misuse of Facebook that ultimately created the environment for other networks like Pinterest and Instagram to emerge. I agree with small being the new normal, but there is nothing to suggest an individual’s Facebook network be large.

    In any social network, your personal network will always lack a full utilization of the larger network. I feel like Facebook only cares that we share information, but does not care how many people we share with. Ultimately, their platform would benefit from small friends lists as it would deliver more relevant ads and connections.

    • Chris Brogan

      Agreed, Michael. And yet, as a marketer, numbers are what matters. Numbers that yield the right connections, obviously, but it starts with numbers. 

      At least that’s how it’s always worked. 

  • Jeff Harbert

    One thing I’ve noticed over the last couple of years among creative types like indie musicians and artists is that they love promoting other people’s work and will often collaborate with each other. Choosing who to promote and who to collaborate with is itself a form of curation. I could see a social media site aimed at independent creatives being very helpful. The narrower the niche, the deeper the opportunity, right?

    • Chris Brogan

      True that. And think about the mindset: like-minded people will gladly share things they find with their little tribe. Beer lovers have Untappd. Same thing. 

    • Sboni

       There’s a network doing something a bit like this called RootMusic..

  • Anonymous


    What I believe we need more than anything at this juncture are open standards that support social network interoperability. This is the only way that we will see mass movement of people between disparate social networks. The problem right now is that if all your friends are on Facebook you are kinda tied to it, which is of course what Facebook wants.


    • Chris Brogan

      Why do we want mass movement? Curious to what that means for you. 

      • Anonymous

        For me it just means free movement of people between social networks, but with enough mass so that it shakes things up in a meaningful way.

        At the moment I feel we have a limited set of social silos — you’re a Facebook-er or a Google+-er — whereas I really like the model you have proposed whereby there are many small and maybe specialist networks out there.I like choice which is the reason I am an Android User so that I can easily swap between different vendor phones at will. I would love the same situation with social networks, and technically there is no reason why we can’t.But … I do need interoperability so that I can talk to my friends on other social networks and vice-versa.Choice is good … hand-cuffs are bad :-)

  • Claudene

    I believe it’s all you say about community and niche, and more. I think a huge part of the ‘more’ will be retailers trying to harness it and take massive advantage of peer-to-peer influence – because peers are such a strong, trusted source of purchase (and other) recommendations.  Will someone eventually layer a multi-level marketing (MLM) or ‘hostess parties’ option onto Pinterest (ex. Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Taste of Home, the lingerie and jewelry ones, Amway, Avon, etc.)? Or, will they come up with a completely new incentive or money-making model for the ambitious users, as a way to *pay* them for their peer influence? Or will they just harvest marketing data with no incentives or compensation to the actual consumers and influencers?

    I’ve always been a magazine clipper and collected the clips in folders, notebooks, and also mounted them on foam core boards. Over the years I’ve often thought about how retailers and marketers would (or at least ‘should’) want to get their hands and eyes on my clips, to know exactly what I respond to and ultimately discuss with my circles and spend my money on.   Pinterest seems to be their dream come true:  it’s essentially the digital form of magazine clips and boards, with one huge advantage — they can watch behind the one-way mirror as we all share our clips with the rest of the world — the cream of the cream of focus groups, it would seem.  I wonder how much the owners of Pinterest and Gentlemint are going to charge retailers to observe us en masse through that mirror…or, are retailers the actual minds and money behind Pinterest and Gentlemint from the get-go?

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  • LynetteRadio

    This all amuses me. Months back when Pinterest first ‘opened’ not many people were interested, and looked down their noses at it. Why? Not because it was visual but because it was perceived as a scrapbook / dream board site for women. Now that those naysayers are eating crow because if used ‘correctly’, Pinterest can be either the #1 or #1 traffic referrer, often times beating out Facebook (where they had grown complacent and lazy).

    So, rather than just ride the Pinterest wave, we need a ‘man’ version of it now?! I call bullshit. Did we need a male version of any other niche network? It it so wrong that (female) users saw an amazing – and oh… BUSINESS – use for something and wound up dominating the platform? 

    Now everyone is writing how *awesome* it is. Why is it cool now? Because online marketers realized it is a traffic generator? It worked perfectly fine before, for those people that recognized its value early on. Who’s fault is it that they were mostly women? The fault is with people that take a superficial glance from the outside and see pins of scrapbook rooms and makeup tips. It any of these people had true cred as online marketing professionals, they would have seen right past the staged Home and Gardens photos and went right to the click stats.
    I get that there are plenty of me-too startups after a sleeper success, Groupon proved that. My issue is that EVERY SINGLE TIME Pinterest is talked about it is labeled a women’s “thing”. The platform isn’t for everyone, and doesn’t work for every type of content or business. It has nothing to do with the fact the majority of users are women or the content is pretty.

    This isn’t a gender thing, so we need to all stop looking at it as such. The copy-cats are sadly opportunistic. The platform is VISUAL vs TEXTUAL. So sorry if it is just a format that women have historically been a bit better at using for communication.

    This isn’t a dig at Chris. It is a result of all of the anti-backlashing that has been going on with Pinterest. First it sucked (why – because it was for ‘girls’). Next everyone is Pinterest’s BFF and pinning stock photos to try to lure traffic to their content. Let’s cal a spade a spade, if you blew off Pinterest before, don’t turn around and act like you discovered its usefulness. The web remembers all, and we can see posts from the fall when you bashed the platform ;)

    • Rick Clark

      Reminded, once again, why I find the single life to be so delightful.

    • Chris Brogan

      I think it’s awesome because it’s simpler to do than blogging. 

    • Andrew Border

      I like pinterest. I will never admit it to any of my friends. But I think its great for organizing my interests (home improvement, off the grid living, stuff like that…). Its easier than having a ton of bookmarked websites that you forget about.

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  • Ernest Barbaric

    Fantastic post Chris! It’s interesting how saturated the market is becoming with new and competing social media channels. It reminiscent of the dot com boom of the early 2000′s. 

    The rate of rapid acceleration to viability (millions of users) has picked up tremendously in the last few years, as it has since the advent of radio, posing another question: Are we willing to keep trying new things at this rate? Or will we (perhaps generationally) stick with the few that we know?

    Great post! I really look forward to hearing you speak to it in May!


    - Ernest.

    • Chris Brogan

      Agreed. I think it’s going to be an interesting world. 

  • Emily Newton

    What a great post! For me, the most interesting tie-in in your article is the mention of Seth Godin and the tribe, as his emphasis for quite a while has been on penetrating the right audience:  the fanatics; the consumers working in front of the trend, passionately following of a product or a brand, always the first in on a new launch and the first to offer feedback and generate excitement across the rest of the community of enthusiasts.  Niche networks lend themselves to that sort of targeted delivery.

    • Chris Brogan

      Quite true, Emily. Find the people who matter. : ) 

  • The Nerdy Nurse

    Pinterest certainly is girly. 

    Perhaps that is why it just isn’t striking my fancy. I’m more dudely than most dudes even. Perhaps gentelmint will be better suited for my visual social networking needs

  • David Kowarsky

    Creation > Curation. Even if they’re not social networks in the web 2.0 sense of the word, highly engaged communities based on/that communicate through message boards/forums clustered around content sites predate and will outlast these “niche social networking sites.” (I’m thinking things like Something Awful’s Forum Goons, IMDB Forum types.)

    Long term, Pinterest is a feature, not a site. In a year it’ll have been bought out by google and be “CirclePins.” Small may become the new big in usage but big business will catch up and make it easier for people to use the big services in the small ways. 

    • Chris Brogan

      Interesting. I can buy that. 

      • David Kowarsky

        Thanks for the reply. And thank you as always for the food for thought. Sorry I didn’t frame my comment with that, rereading myself now I realize that being terse made me sound like a jerk, which was not my intent. 

  • MichelleMacPhearson

    Two points:

    1. Branching off into niche Pinterest clones will not be a sustainable business model. We saw this when many businesses/marketers tried to create niche-centered Digg clones. The idea looks good on paper, but the reality is that all of us are a mix of interests (niches).

    Most people – average internet users – don’t want to have to participate on separate sites for each of their interests. They want it all in one place – that’s what makes Facebook special. It’s the ONE social network the average person can turn to and find their friends. Pinterest, if they play their cards right, could be the one social sharing / idea generation site people go to.

    It’s not hard to find what you’re looking for, male of female, by using the search function. Ask my husband – he posts manly things *and* adorable puppies. :-)

    The idea of a “Pinterest for Lesbians” and “Pinterest for Gardeners” and “Pinterest for Schoolteachers” will FAIL.

    2. If you (erroneously) think there isn’t a lot of content on Pinterest for men, wouldn’t is be an EXCEPTIONAL opportunity for a smart men’s brand to be the creator of that content?! It’s a no-brainer.

    • Chris Brogan

      If you replace “pinterest” for “magazine” above, do they fail? Nope. Plenty of successful ones. 

      • MichelleMacPhearson

        I’m still talking about Pinterest and Pinterest clones tho, not magazines! :-)

        The “take a hot social site, clone it and niche it” model didn’t work for niche MySpace clones, it didn’t work for niche Digg clones, it didn’t work for niche Twitter clones and it won’t work for niche Pinterest clones.

        While there’s always an outlier, or someone with big enough pockets to make it happen even there’s no ROI (maybe your Hendricks Gin will take the bait), it’s bad advice to recommend to small business owners, DIY marketers, bloggers, etc. that they consider a “niche Pinterest” type of site in their marketplace.

        They should focus on going where the crowd already is and taking this opportunity to create great content for that hungry crowd. They could be on Pinterest right now creating – not just curating – content for the audience that’s already there, driving traffic to their sites via their participation, increasing brand engagement and loyalty.

        • Chris Brogan

          It didn’t work because they said, “Give me a volume/mass model and try to make it work for a lesser volume/mass model.” What I’m recommending is, “take tools that are in one instance being used for volume/mass and use them differently to build a community/eyeballs model.” Mags are just pockets of passionate buyers. 

  • Mary Ulrich

    So maybe there is hope for those of us with small niches?

    • Chris Brogan

      No question. : ) 

      • Damien

        Glad someone like you Chris finally covers the niche curation. I Totally agree with you guys, this is why we built Shareist, to allow people to create niche curated sites they can monetize. Niche-focused FTW!

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  • Ryan Hanley


    I took on Pinterest as part of my Social Tools because of it’s visual nature.

    What I like about is the ability to create repositories of information visually.  

    So I created the Content Creation Curation – a visual representation of the week that was in Social Media.  Each week I Pin articles together on a Board that I feel have a lot of value.  Then people can come and check out the Board and have one place to get a broad idea of what is happening Online and what many thought-leaders are delivering to their readers.

    I’m not going to post the link because I don’t want to be Spammy but if you want to check it out my user name is RyanHanley.

    I like to go back and review articles I’ve read but didn’t have time to digest and I think the visual nature of Pinterest gives the project a unique feel.  It’s obviously a free thing for people that I do and I don’t ask for anything… 

    Just trying to add value where I can.


    Ryan H.

  • C.C. Chapman

    I get what you are saying and DO believe that niche networks are a very powerful thing, but I’ve got to laugh at you jumping on to Gentlemint because the content you are seeing on Pinterest isn’t right for you. Don’t forget that YOU control what you see and follow there. 

    Think I know what to write about now :)

    • Drew Hawkins

      Totally agree with you there. 

  • Mike Hirst

    Which is worse: One social network with 850 million users, or 850 million social networks with 1 user? (over-dramatization, but the point remains, and the question, I think, is valid)

  • Elizabeth Hanes

    I’ve been on Pinterest for awhile but have almost nothing pinned because most of the stuff I like on the web isn’t photo/video-oriented. I do think the conceptualization of Pinterest as “scrapbooking” is pretty accurate, and I don’t do scrapbooking at all.

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  • Vincent Polisi


  • Mark John Hiemstra

    From what I’ve seen thus far, Gentlemint is Pinterest for marketers. It’s like the first 50 pages of a GQ magazine. It gets skipped.

  • Todd Eddy

    I’m usually pretty “IN” to social networks and only heard of pinterest a couple weeks ago.  Still waiting for the invite but my impression of pinterest is it’s a tumblr with groups.  Where tumblr just has a stream of content pinterest can group content.  Not sure if I’ll even do anything with it but can’t wait for invite.  Also just signed up for gentlemint too :)

    First thing I thought with the talk of niche social networks is that this has been going on for years on message boards.  You can find a forum for just about any topic your interested in and most have a pretty tight community.  This goes all the way back to before the internet and BBSes.

    • Dain Binder

      Todd email me at and I will invite you to Pinterest.

      • Todd Eddy

         Thanks for the offer but just so happens (or maybe because?) I got an invite around lunch.

  • Peter

    http://www.bizzidate the new generation of sharing Platform. You can share all contents (friends, events, videos, photos, music).
    Just in one place Bizzidate dot com

  • 40deuce

    I totally get what you’re saying about going the niche route here, Chris, but I still just don’t get these board things. I’ve tried to get into Pinterest and am just bored every time I look at it and can’t think of a reason to pin anything myself. Someone then suggested to me that I try this Gentlemint as well, but after three minutes on the site I couldn’t be there any more.
    I’m a big believer in content curation and how people who use it properly can see great benefits from it. I also understand how targeting niche audiences can really help as well because you know that you’re interacting with a community that is really focused on the things you are and you want them to be. But for the life of me, I can’t get my head around Pinterest and pinning things. I don’t see a point to it, why people want to do it, or why people have become so obsessed with it recently.

    Maybe it’s just me though.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

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  • Tara Swiger

    Ravelry has long been the Pinterest for knitters + crocheters (before Pinterest existed!). You don’t only “pin” projects you want to make, and highlight your favorite version of that sweater, you also “pin” your projects, your version of that sweater. 
    (It’s not *mine*, I’m just a fan!)

    I wonder how those of us in a non-visual space can create a space for our people to share their “pins” (the articles they’re reading, the tips they want to try)? Twitter is like this…but it’s not as easy to see what you want to see (the “boards” you want to follow). 

  • John @ MarriedWithDebt

    I would do Pinterest for Pets. A social network where your animals can interact with each other, and meet new animals. I would sell USB attachments that allow them to draw and create by moving a ball or wheel. 

    It will make $1billion. Chris, I will allow you to be my partner.

  • Matt Tanguay

    Hey Chris,
    I just heard of PInterest before I read this. I’m going to check it out, as well as Gentlemint. Thanks for the heads up!Matt

  • Silly Mummy

    Wow… I had never heard of Gentlemint. Gotta check it out. Thanks!

  • Silly Mummy

    Wow… I had never heard of Gentlemint. Gotta check it out. Thanks!

  • Paul M. Watson

    I think you’ve re-waffled group collaboration software without the enterprise bit. We never solved that problem so we tried to solve the 850 million people problem and that’s still not solved but we’re a bit bored of it so back to the 8 people problem and round we go. G+ calls it Circles and the interest-graph. You can easily make a guitar circle and curate to death with the like minded. But you can’t opt into a circle, you can’t continuously-share circles. But those aren’t the real problems anyway. 

    “Niche” social networks only ever dropped off the frontpages of echo-chamber Valley blogs. The way Pinterest blind-sided so many Valley heads demonstrates this (and I openly admit to being late to Pinterest too because of our echochamber. I’m berating myself as much as I’m berating this waffly post.)
    Ennui. Seriously.

  • Anonymous

    Pinterest is quickly becoming a great space for marketers no doubt about that.  

    However, I do not think it is because of the mostly female demographic which is also true of Facebook which has an almost 60% female user base but instead because visual images are and always have been a good way to sell products.

  • Social Media Dude

    Pintrest and Gentlemint seem to be interesting developments

  • Beth Gasser

    The appeal of Pinterest to me is its simplicity. The simple to install and use toolbar with one click just keeps it so simple. I think the old adage to keep things simple really applies here. While there are some social sites I find really useful, I am not as inclined to use some as frequently as Pinterest because of this one factor. Is there an android app yet? Last time I checked I couldn’t find one, and to be honest, my “play” time is on my tablet when I’m most likely to Pin things.

  • Ashley

    Goes to show that there’s room for tons of growth in social media. It can be mind-boggling!

  • Ann Davlin

    I’ve heard about Pinterest. I’ve even opened this site to look at it myself. Now I can say that it’s really good for women! it’s a real godsend!

  • Chris Brogan

    Haven’t yet, but looking forward to checking it out. 

  • Chris Brogan

    It’s not that you CAN’T do it with Pinterest. It’s a question of what people see when they show up at Pinterest. If I didn’t know about your “board of man,” which I did not, what I’ll see are a bunch of hairstyles and men’s washboard abs. 

    • Drew Hawkins

      I’m sure people had similar “it’s not for me’” opinions on their first impressions with Twitter and Google+ back in the day too. 

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  • Māris Antons

    This also explains why Facebook is working so hard to put some life in friend lists, why google circles is something new and other things happening in bigger social networks. People are moving more and more away from social graph towards interest graph. It helps us to be more efficient and to keep tabs on things going on in the world we are most interested in. 
    It’s better to have a few like-minded people than thousand complete strangers with no common interests.

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  • Judy Caroll

    No question about Pinterest being one of the next big stars in social networking.  It’s one of the fast growing sites today and with astounding amount of users, especially women.  I think one thing that makes it very appealing is how it promotes positivity.  You are being surrounded with beautiful things, positive messages and motivational messages all the time.    Thanks for the knowledge Chris.