Is Niche Social Networking the next big thing?

“What is the next big thing?”

Chaaya3July14

When it comes to social media, the frequency at which this question is being asked is astonishingly high. Attribute it to technology, which had made it possible to churn out new concepts as easily as they are debunked, or consumer trends, which are far more volatile than they have ever been in the last century, the fact remains – the social media landscape is changing and evolving right before our eyes.

The Migrating Online Population
There has been a lot of debate about prominent social networking websites losing ground. In fact a study by Princeton predicts that Facebook may lose 80% of its core users between 2015-17. Facebook countered this study with it’s own research. And of course with Facebook taking over upcoming networks like Instagram and connecting with its existing network would mean a rerouting of audiences back to itself. But this brings to light an important trend – people are moving. An innumerable number of social networks have come up in the past year, most of who have championed a particular niche to be their USP.

There has been a lot of debate about prominent social networking websites losing ground. In fact a study by Princeton predicts that Facebook may lose 80% of its core users between 2015-17. Facebook countered this study with it’s own research. And of course with Facebook taking over upcoming networks like Instagram and connecting with its existing network would mean a rerouting of audiences back to itself. But this brings to light an important trend – people are moving. An innumerable number of social networks have come up in the past year, most of who have championed a particular niche to be their USP.

Niche: A better business model?
The rise of ‘niche social networks’ has been an interesting one and there has evidently been an imminent need for them by the looks of it. For one, it helps audiences break away from the clutter of information on general social networking sites which is often a mix of personal information sharing, work related information, articles and cat videos. Niche sites work great for people with particular interests, and let’s not forget the first ‘big social network’ MySpace capitalized on the niche of music too. For entrepreneurs who are interested in entering the social network business, competing with existing giants in the field almost impossible. So it makes sense for them to discover a section of the internet population that has a specific interest and cater to it. Lastly, niche social networks are the greatest boon for advertisers in digital media. A narrowcast approach helps them directly reach their audience, on a platform that is completely dedicated for it.

Marketers will also need to understand and acknowledge that in a medium that is inherently fragmented, reaching your target consumer in the right environment can often be a challenge. Targeting this audience via niche social networks will soon become the order of the day. Given that targeted community networks operate on low volume and high value, such networks are sure to command a premium for reaching to the exclusive audience communities they are building.

Some interesting niche social networks
Contrary to popular belief, there is an abundance of niche social networks out there.

Here are some of the ones that sparked our interest

Archh
Archh is a social network that caters to the global community of professional architects, interior designers and allied professionals. Basically, think LinkedIn for applied design. Members can exhibit their work, share stories, seek out potential clients, post job openings and stay in touch with news from the industry on the website blog.

Catster
Catster is a network for cat lovers and owner. People can adopt cats, get information on pet care, behavioral training and even create profiles for your pets. It also has a counter part called dogster for dog lovers

Sophia
Sophia is a website that helps connect students to renowned teachers from around the world. It has a number of free tools and services for teachers in particular.

The Car Community
Car community is a social network and forum for car enthusiasts. People can showcase their cars or modification projects with details about it.

Global Dance Network
Global Dance Network as the name suggests is focused on dance. Members have their own ‘dance wall’, profile and digital dance resume. Members can also read up on useful dance related articles on the site.

With increasing clutter in main stream networking, it is time to look at these emerging channels to build relation with your core customer groups.