Facebook has been the top of the heap in social media for quite some time, but there are now rumblings of change. Many consumers on Facebook have become disillusioned with the company and how it has handled operations, so there is room for a shakeup in the pecking order. Twitter is usually seen as the number two social media contender, but with the recent antagonization against developers using Twitter’s API and hiding the names of apps members use to tweet, it too has been attracting some raised eyebrows from professionals in the industry. So, what are the up and comers for social media? Here’s a look at four of the social networks that could dethrone Facebook and how your business can approach them.

1. Pinterest

While it isn’t exactly a new kid on the block, Pinterest is still a strong competitor and rival to Facebook in the social media field. Just as Facebook used to place more emphasis on maintaining a profile of favorite quotes, music, and movies, Pinterest is focused on curating. That approach has proven very popular as an alternative to Facebook. That interest in curation and collection means lots of opportunities for businesses to present their products and their brand to possible customers. It’s a place where members look for things they want to buy, so it makes sense that companies can do well on Pinterest. We’ve discussed several companies here on Sprout Insights that have successful Pinterest strategies. The common threads amongst them are knowing both your brand’s audience and the network’s audience, maintaining regular activity on the network, and focusing on presenting a lifestyle rather than a product.

2. Google+

While there have been some stumbles in the progress of Google+ to gain traction in the social media industry, the platform does have many features to assist businesses that Facebook does not offer. The big change is that Google+ Local recently incorporated Zagat into the feature. There are pros and cons for businesses as a result of that integration, so make sure that your company is being properly represented there. It gives your company a place to see customer reviews as well as post status updates that can be shared across the network. Since Google+ has Circles, where members can group their friends and share updates privately, information shared across this network is less likely to be timely news items. Instead, people seem more likely to be engaging in private discussions or participating in Hangouts. You’ll want to tailor the type of statuses or links that you share accordingly to spark debate and conversation. Think quality over quantity.

3. Path

This network was founded on the idea of giving members a small and exclusive place to chronicle their stories. Members of Path can only connect with 150 other people on the platform, which is available as a free app for the iPhone or for Android smartphones. It’s beautifully designed and has attracted a strong but small following. Right now, it seems unlikely that any members of Path will be interested in adding a brand as one of their limited connections on the network. However, the new company will surely be looking to work some sort of business angle into the experience in order to make money, either with advertising or allowing business accounts to interact with the other members. You’ll probably want to keep an eye on Path for how it grows. The company may look to strike a different, more user-friendly attitude than Facebook when it is ready to monetize its activities.

4. Nextdoor

Another newcomer in the social media world is Nextdoor. This is designed to be a private, hyperlocal network that allows neighbors to connect. The company is working to foster a better sense of community both online and in person. It requires address verification so that you can be placed in the network for the correct neighborhood. You also need to sign in with your real name. Like Path, the network seems unlikely to allow businesses to become members since the focus is so squarely on personal interactions. There is a space on Nextdoor for neighbors to share recommendations about favorite local businesses, but it doesn’t look like the companies are able to participate in those conversations. However, the company does have options for advertising. Although Nextdoor is adamant in its privacy policy about not sharing member information with third-party advertisers, the platform could be a great marketing choice, especially for small, independent businesses. Which social media network do you think will be the next Facebook? Let us know in the comments! [Image credits: Julien Haler, Hakan Dahlstrom]