Social Media Wars: Attack of the Clones

By Liam Foy

Social Media Wars: Attack of the Clones

Pinterest is now the big cool toy that everybody wants to use but how far are other websites willing to go to be like Pinterest? There are several copycats, the biggest being Pinspire, but others are jumping on the social cataloguing bandwagon. A brief list of some of these copycats (and their statements) are below:

Stylepin “Pinterest for style.”

Gentlemint – “Gentlemint is a mint of manly things.”

Thinng – “Create lists, add the Thinngs you love and post directly to Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter instantly.”

GetBega – “Remember everything you love.”

We’ve decide to focus on Pinspire as there is very little difference between itself and Pinterest. This obviously isn’t the first time a website has had a copycat and once again it comes from those clever Samwer brothers. The name may sound familiar to you and it should, they have been developing copycats of popular sites and selling them off since 1999, when they sold Alando to eBay for $50 million. More recently, they started and sold GroupOn clone CityDeal to GroupOn and Zynga clone Plinga to Zynga.

One of the keys to the success of Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based incubator the brothers founded, has been identifying websites that have taken off in the U.S. but don’t yet have strong global followings. The brothers launched the clone as a beta in November, and if history is an indicator, will hold it just long enough to develop a loyal, overseas following. Already valued at more than $200 million, Pinterest remains in invite only mode, which is one of the ways Pinspire is trying to one-up its look-alike competition.

Pinterest and Pinspire Comparison

More Clones

Founded by the guy who created Twitpic, Heello doesn’t just look like Twitter. It works exactly the same, just renaming tweets as pings, retweets as echoes and followers as listeners.

Yammer is a networking tool for business. Rather than re-invent the wheel on group communication, Yammer chose to emulate Facebook‘s user interface and functionality. And when we say emulate we mean blatant copying.

Final Thought

The hardest thing to do is to come up with that unique/original idea that people haven’t tried before. So why should companies be happy about other people just coming along a ripping off their whole idea and just rebranding it?

Once you start looking, it’s not hard to find rip-offs. At best, they can be seen as homages but at worst, the are just stealing ideas. Still, there’s a difference between borrowing some core design ideas and wholesale imitating. In social media, where the essential premise of connecting and sharing with your friends provides a basic architecture, perhaps the line between the two is blurrier than in other fields. After all wasn’t Facebook called a MySpace clone?

What are your thoughts on these clone sites?

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This post was written by Liam Foy

As Head of Client Services, Liam ensures that all of his clients’ strategies are on track, delivering ROI and coming up with new ideas to drive them forward. Beer makes him tick, reading, learning and drinking it.