Facebook? Check. Twitter? Check. Now what? Niche social networks.

Social media is becoming a bigger and bigger part of a lot of company’s marketing strategy – and rightly so. Done right, it can reap huge rewards. There are still too many setting up a Facebook Page and a Twitter account and then just sitting there…but this isn’t another one of my rants about that.

A lot of companies, many with the help of online and social media marketing agencies like Fluid Creativity, are enjoying increased brand awareness and loyalty, as well as improvements in conversion, whether to sale or enquiry.

The majority though, are still focused on Facebook and Twitter – it is where the majority of their customers are, after all – but these networks are so popular that it’s often difficult to be heard.

So where else in the social media world can a company position itself to better effect? Niche social networks, that’s where. Until recently, Pinterest could have been considered one of those, but its increasing popularity and the fact that it was immediately targeted by spammers means it is now just as difficult to get your message across, especially if you’re an ecommerce company.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Google+, but you should also be looking for social networks that focus solely on your niche and are therefore populated only by your target market.

With that in mind, here’s five niche social networks you could consider.

Polyvore

Polyvore

Polyvore is aimed primarily at female shoppers and is an ideal social option for companies selling fashion online. It works by allowing members to ‘pin’ products to their profile and then create collages of their favourites which are shared with the community (and Facebook and Twitter if you so choose).

The driving force is the creativity – there are some stunning themed collages on Polyvore and for all you know, your products are already showing up there. Each image within a collage is linked back to the original site (so it’s good for SEO too) and each has title text that contains price and URL.

If you’re a fashion ecommerce business, you can create your own profile on Polyvore, pin all your own products to your profile and then begin creating amazing collages around certain themes. It’s important on Polyvore to produce truly outstanding collages as the community will essentially ‘vote up’ the best via Likes and comments.

So you’ve got your brand out there, your products are appearing, you’re creating some low to medium value backlinks and you’re engaging with your target audience. The best bit? When another member of the Polyvore community is creating their own collage and they need, say, a pair of shoes in red, they can search for it on the site and drop them in…and if you’ve been doing this right, it could well be YOUR shoes that they use.

The viral potential of Polyvore is high but, as with any network, you have to engage. Get out there and like others’ collages and sets, comment on them, target those based in your country specifically and GET INVOLVED!

Dogster / Catster

Dogster

Sell pet food, pet toys, pet treats or anything pet related? Then you will want to have a look at Dogster and Catster. These are essentially social networks for pet owners, but it’s the pet that gets the profile, not the owner.

Where the potential lies for companies such as yours is in the Groups and Forums. Although this is a heavily US-centric couple of networks, there are UK-based people on there. Which means you can connect directly with pet owners by involving yourself in the online community.

Don’t just go trying to flog your stuff to them, really get involved and show an interest in the pets – if you show you care, people will begin to care about you (and your products). If, as the owner of the business, you have a pet of your own, get them on there and get involved that way. If not, borrow one (or, rather cynically, invent one!).

It’s a mad world when pets get their own social networks, but hey, an opportunity is an opportunity!

Untappd

Untappd

Connected in anyway with the brewing industry (or drinking industry!)? Then you’ll want to take a look at Untappd, an iOs / Android / mobile web app and community that connects fans of beer with one another.

It’s a bit like Foursquare in that users check into whatever venue they’re at (pub, bar, night club, festival) and inform their friends what they’re drinking, who brewed it and even share pics.

Now imagine you’re a microbrewer – you’ve got yourself a profile on Untappd, you’ve made some basic connections (friends) and you’re now wondering what to do. Well, why not check in at your brewery, tag one of your range, add a pic and watch as people like it, follow you and want to know more. They’ll start seeking your beers out, you can tell them where to find it in comments and by checking in at those venues with a pic and a beer tagged.

Comment on check ins and beers, get involved with the community and you’re on your way to making the most out of a very niche social network.

This is all small beer (pardon the pun) compared to Facebook and Twitter, perhaps, but at least you KNOW you’re addressing your target audience – and your target audience alone – directly. That can only be a good thing.

Instagram

Instagram

Ok, everyone knows about Instagram (you do, right?) but very few companies are using it to their advantage. Instagram (for those of you don’t know) is a mobile app for posting photos and provides various filters to make those photos more interesting.

It’s niche because of that fact and while it doesn’t necessarily target a specific audience there are natural communities springing up that a company can tap into, usually around a specific hash tag, much like Twitter.

The power of an image is incredible and every company has something they can photograph. If you sell products, there’s your subject, if you provide a service then photos of things relating to that service will be what you’re after.

Choose the right hash tag and you’ll be putting your product or service right in front if your target audience. So, for example, let’s say you’re a sign writer. You can photograph some of your work, apply a nice filter, upload it to Instagram with hash tags like #design and #calligraphy and users tracking those tags will see your work – and hopefully, like it and comment on it, which will show up for their friends and connections on the service. Voilá, you’re connecting with your target audience. Follow those and other related tags yourself and comment on and like some pics, get involved in the discussions and you’re taking it a step further.

So there you have it – five niche social networks that, while not connecting you with 1 billion active users like you could on Facebook, will connect you directly with your target audience, AKA potential customers.

And the theme running through each of them – GET INVOLVED. Only then will you reap the huge rewards.

The point is, no matter what business you’re in, you should be able to find a related niche social network you can tap into that will provide a much higher conversion rate than the likes of Facebook and Twitter. So go look!

fluidcreativity
  • Written by on 8th October 2012 at 12:23
  • “Fluid Creativity is an award-winning, multi-service digital agency based in Manchester.”
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