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.

What Skills To Look Out For In Your Social Media Agency

Vaishali Bhardwaj, BC Web Wise

Vaishali Bhardwaj

Making the decision to hire an outside agency to work on building your brand on social media is an important move. Social media is such an important part of your brand that you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not go the whole length to decide on your social media partner agency. Many of the larger agencies offer social media as an upsell, rather than a core competency. You want to understand if it is a key offering, or a footnote to tack on additional revenue. Check out the below points below before you decide on your agency:

Its About Passion Backed By Knowledge

Seek out agencies that are glued to every changing moment in the field and devoted to their clients. The agency must be buzzing with employees who are passionate not just about social media, but also the larger online context it sits within. They should be keen on discovering new ways of connecting with the online audience on the different social media platforms.

Always On – 24×7

For all we know, social media is the fastest evolving medium of advertising. Look out for an agency which is dedicated enough to handle any scenario from positive developments like promotional videos going viral to negative consequences in crisis situations. There is no greater peace of mind for a brand manager than to be able to employ an agency to which they can just pick up the phone in a time of need and know that the matter will be swiftly dealt with, no matter the time of day.

Social media is about making connections and building relationships

At the core of social media is not about selling things. Sure, that can be a result; but only if you value and master the art of building relationships. Look for an agency which is focused on connecting to customers online and in ways that bring them closer and make them brand champions. A good social media agency understands the importance of building relationships with fans and followers and that it is not just about making posts.

Social media has a gestation period

Yes, it does. Look for a social media agency that doesn’t over-promise. Social media traction takes time. There is no quick fix. Always seek an agency that believes in building genuine connections and doesn’t use short cuts to get there. The truth is, if an agency tells you they can get you thousands of organic fans/followers in a short amount of time, you might want to end the conversation right there.

Social media isn’t one size fits all

You just can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach for social media strategy. If an agency comes into an initial meeting with a plan all laid out for you, they don’t know what they are doing. A good agency will ask questions about the company, customers and social resources in addition to what goals and social success the brand is looking out to achieve. If your potential agency isn’t asking questions like these, they can’t possibly create a strong social media strategy for you.

Overall, making the decision to hire an outside agency to handle a social media campaign can be a lengthy process. Ideally, the relationship should be beneficial in the long run, which means it may help to keep the elements outlined above in consideration.

How Facebook’s Close Friends Feature Can Affect Your Brand’s Wall Posts

Close Friends Feature on Facebook

Close Friends On Facebook

 

Have you stumbled across the Close Friends feature on Facebook? It appears as an alert as you log in to your Facebook profiles. A very welcome feature indeed considering large networks of friends one gathers over time. With friends of friends, work acquaintances, random people, far off relations, absolutely unknown people and all of their status updates filling up your wall, Facebook as a true friends’ network was not serving at its optimal best. A chance to see only posts from significant few who matter the most is a welcome change.

Jump to Close Friends on Facebook

Jump to Close Friends on Facebook

So here’s what the Close Friends Feature does. It suggests and allows you to star the select few friends whose updates you want to know about the most. What’s even better, these friends will not know you tagged them, so this is a little secret between you and Facebook’s backend program.

Close Friends Suggestions

Close Friends Suggestions

You can change and alter this list whenever you want. Everytime you open the Facebook page you can select the Close Friends option and see only news feeds from them.  Essentially Facebook has taken its `lists’ feature and taken it a step further making it simple and quick for users to follow who they want to the most and minimizing the clutter.

What does this mean to posts made on Brand Pages ? Currently the wall posts made by brands on their brand pages go into the news feeds of the fans that have `Liked’ them just as the status updates of those in the friends networks of their fans appear. Once the Facebook user opts for the Close Friends option however, they will see only the posts made by these close friends! In other words the status updates or wall posts made by brands are likely to never get seen at all by Facebook members because they can only select `Friends’ or `People’ and not pages or groups that they follow!

So time for Facebook to introduce a ‘Pages I Follow’ listing, that will enable users to also track the brand posts they would like to see. This will not only be user friendly, but will really help to give better visibility of brand posts to serious fans.

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