A vast and growing group of creatives and influencers rely almost exclusively on social media to connect with their audience and, in many cases, monetize their work. They may differ from traditional business owners selling products and services via a website. Still, nonetheless, to digital service providers, they are potential customers in need of a domain name. They use social media to create and share content, build communities, and make a name for themselves in their industries. Whether their goal is to make money or simply to connect, these social media users represent an untapped opportunity. 

According to research by the team at Kepios, 62.3% of the global population uses social media—that’s 5.04 billion people. Today, social media isn’t just growing in popularity—its landscape is also becoming more decentralized. Historically, social media has been dominated by a handful of large platforms. These platforms operate as “walled gardens,” in which the platform provider has total control. This means that any community an individual builds is platform-specific; their handle and followers do not transfer over to other sites. 

These “walled” communities pose several potential problems for social media users. First, they have no control over the platforms they post on. A platform can change its policies, adjust algorithms, or shut down accounts anytime, and the user has very little recourse. The second problem is that shifting trends and decentralized audiences can make it difficult for users, creators, and businesses to connect with followers. 

As social media users reckon with platform changes that threaten the communities they’ve created, they are looking for new ways to build connections online. Some are testing new types of social networks, while others are finding new ways to organize their content. Both trends present new opportunities for domain resellers and digital presence providers.

Open-source social 

One response to the instability of social platforms is a rise in decentralized social networks, such as Mastodon and Bluesky. These platforms are hosted on independent servers and aim to put control back in the hands of the user. Unlike legacy, walled-garden platforms, these decentralized networks rely heavily on domain names as the new “handles.” Users register a domain name and use it to either set up a server—in Mastodon’s case—or to function as their “handle”—as it’s done at Bluesky. In essence, the domain name becomes their calling card online.  

Since they own the domain name associated with their social media presence, users of these decentralized platforms have greater control over how they show up online. They can customize their domain name to align with their use case and personal brand across platforms. For example, OpenSRS’s parent company, Tucows Inc., has its own Mastodon server at tucows.social. 

A more centralized solution

Another response to platform instability is for users to take control of their content by publishing it on their site. The idea is not new, as David Pierce explained for The Verge. The concept is summarized in the acronym POSSE, Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere. In short, a user controls all their content by publishing it on their platform. They can promote or share it through any channel, but they have one central repository (a website) operated without third-party interference. 

The centralized platform solution doesn’t have to be complex. The entire idea is to keep it simple. This works well for social users who want to avoid needing a fully built website and for content creators, businesses, and brands that want a simple way to centralize their social presence. They can promote all their content on a single .social domain by leveraging a simple web builder or link aggregator tool. 

This also enables greater brand consistency, which is especially critical for creators and businesses that use social media to build a following, garner partnerships, and increase their earning potential. Not only can their content be consolidated in one central hub, but they have more control over how it’s branded. When users can customize on both sides of “the dot,” they are more likely to find a “handle” that fits their name, brand, and use case. And it helps to choose a top-level domain that is naturally aligned with this use case, such as .social.

Unlocking a new customer base for domains 

Users are moving to new solutions in response to increasing instability across legacy social media platforms. Mastodon has shown immense growth—with the number of registered users increasing by more than 300% between November 2022 and March 2023. As of October 2023, it had 1.8M monthly active users. Regardless of which decentralized solution they pursue, many people are choosing to purchase a .social domain. The volume of .social registrations has increased a staggering 214% year-over-year (data through September 2023, as reported by Identity Digital). And with countless social media users currently relying on social platforms to share their content with the world–—many of whom have never purchased a domain before—this is a huge untapped customer base for service providers. 

By offering .social domains, you can create the first touch point with new customers who may require additional services now or in the future. Alongside their domain, they may need a website-builder subscription. Or, your service could become their POSSE solution. They can register their domain, publish from your platform, and utilize any available tools to help “syndicate everywhere.”

Still waiting to offer .social domains? Add them to your TLD lineup today. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

This post was written by Identify Digital, the registry behind the .social TLD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of OpenSRS or Tucows Domains.