By definition, a niche is a smaller specialized subset of a larger set. People who do nude yoga would be a niche community compared to those who do any type of yoga. There are plenty of niche social networks that target a select segment of the general population. Every marketing person knows that being to target a more specific audience for your products that matches your desired user is essential. In social media, using niche social networks is one way to do that.
Anyone on the Internet knows there are plenty of dog and cat lovers posting to Facebook, Instagram etc. But those owners may also use Dogster , a social network for the dog lover and Catster for the kitty crowd.
Why should we as social media designers know about these niche networks? Because you or your clients definitely fit into some niches. Certainly, a pet store should be active in niche pet networks. This can be a place to share your expertise and drive readers to your own site.
I use Goodreads which is a well established site that connects readers. It’s a great place to have a profile if you’re a bookstore, author or publisher.
Dribbble is one of many niche sites for designers.
Interested in knitting and crocheting? Ravelry and other online network for knitters and crocheters would also be a good place for fashion designers who work within these mediums.
Letterboxd is for the film buff and people have film diaries and share lists and connect with other movie lovers.
Restaurants, bars and clubs all have niche networks, such as Fubar which has over 9 million registered members. That seems like a big niche. Fubar claims it is the world’s largest online bar – an odd concept in itself.
The DIY audience is so big that it has many niches. Curbly is a broader DIY social network, and Instructables is a place to share what you make, whether that’s music, games, robots, woodworking or whatever.
The point is that whatever your particular interest or business focuses on, there are viable smaller networks than Facebook or Facebook groups to connect with people. You should broaden your own business “keywords” too. You’re promoting a neighborhood restaurant? Sure, you should check out Yelp and any area networks, but you could also consider posting some of your favorite dishes to a place like All Recipes. That is a very large recipe sharing network that DIY chefs will use, but is also a place for foodies. More than half of the people watching cooking shows will never cook the recipes. But they will look for those dishes the next time they are dining out.
Niche social networks make their money the same way the big networks do – advertising. But what they can offer is a very defined audience, rather than an ad broadcast to an audience containing many people who are not interested. yes, Google, Facebook and all the others do work on better understanding users’ tastes, but a niche network already knows its audience. A network such as Black Planet has music, jobs, forums, chat, photos, dating personals and groups all targeted to the specific interests of the Black community. If that is part of your demographic reach for your business or a particular campaign, that’s a good place to use.