Niche Social Networks Rise as Alternatives to Mainstream Platforms
Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.
All sessions from #SMWONE, our four-week virtual conference program, are now available on-demand.
In today’s highly digital world, consumers are craving interconnectivity with their communities more than ever. Through social media, users connect with others having similar interests, hobbies, and tastes. Niche social networking sites are continuing to bloom even as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter hold considerable market share; from examples like VampireFreaks an alternative “goth” social media website, to Ravelry, a social networking site for knitting enthusiasts, the world of niche social media is huge – and getting bigger.
Niche businesses are investing in social media because they experience benefits such as:
- Qualified leads. Rather than marketing to a broad audience via traditional social media, niche social sites attract users that are already interested in a specific industry or business. There’s also less competition on niche sites, as users aren’t bombarded with as many advertisements as they would have been on Facebook.
- Increased engagement. Since users are inherently interested in niche social sites, they’re more likely to participate in forums and interact with strangers on the web. Enhanced interaction is paramount to establishing a meaningful brand-to-consumer relationship.
- Greater marketing ROI. More qualified leads and higher engagement means businesses that invest in niche social marketing will experience greater marketing ROI. Focused content means less truly is more, as relevant content is consistently displayed to members of the site.
When creating a niche social platform, businesses shouldn’t aim to become the “next Facebook.” Instead, their ultimate goal should be to unite people who are interested in their services and industry, which consequently leads to increased sales.
Not to say that niche social media sites are right for every business, but it’s certainly a viable option for niche businesses trying to experience the greatest marketing ROI possible. Starting a new social networking space for your business takes time and effort, but it can pay dividends for years to come, especially as these figures continue to grow:
• 42 percent of online adults have accounts on multiple social platforms. An estimated 73 percent have at least one account.
• 28 percent of smartphone owners use social media on a daily basis. Approximately 40 percent of cell phone owners have a social media app on their phone.
• 56 percent of online adults report participating in forums and creating content of some kind.
Investing in launching a niche social networking space for your business or community is no small task, but if the addressable audience is large and passionate enough about a certain niche, it could also be an incredible opportunity. Embarking on this project would require numerous considerations, including first and foremost, a multifaceted web host that could manage traffic growth, as well as these key elements:
- Scalability. The goal of a social networking site is to grow and attract users in your niche. Your social site should not be the same size in a year – it should be bigger. Thus, be sure to partner with a web host provider that offers scalable services to accompany your forecasted growth. Can you easily switch between shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting? How much power do you want and need over your hosting? By considering these questions, you’ll be certain to select the right partner for your needs.
- Security. Users must create accounts to become members of social networking sites, so it’s critical to invest in a web host provider that offers the utmost security. Social users often utilize the same email address and passwords across their accounts, so a compromise in one area will cause frustration elsewhere. Plus, digital security shows your clients you truly care about their privacy and well being.
- Customer service. Running a social site is a complex task, so you’ll want to talk with your web host provider should any issues arise. Partner with a company that is quick to answer your questions through various methods of communication.
As the world’s online presence grows, we may soon see more businesses setting up ecosystems for their communities to meet, and ultimately convert those connections into sales, as opposed to relying primarily on cutting through the noise on mainstream platforms. Certainly, the NY-based Meetup.org has already done a great job of curating those interactions offline, with over 315,000 meetups happening in 196 countries each month, so why not connect those communities deeper online?
To learn more about niche social platforms, check out this report from Hotwire and 33Digital: The Rise of Social Niche Networks.
Write for Us
Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.