The Boom In Niche Social Networks

There appears to be a growing trend in the social networking industry. Marketers appear to be targeting site’s with smaller, niche memberships more so now than ever before.

According to eMarketer, during 2008 advertisers spent $920M on advertising within social networks. Of that $920M, eMarketer says 8.2 percent went to niche social networks. In 2009, this year it is estimated that spending will increase to $2.1 billion, and the take for smaller networks will rise to 10%.

To me this trend towards niche social networks mirrors the explosion in niche magazines that we saw the last 20-30 years. You can buy magazines on almost any type of topic today and the reason you can is that advertisers like to be able to reach very unique targeted market segments.

My thought is that if you wanted to sell a $250,000 Rolex watch instead of advertising on a general Facebook page, it would probably be better to advertise on a social networking site like ASmallWorld. ASmallWorld is a niche social network with a membership of around 300,000 wealthy individuals.

Here’s some examples of niche social networks.

85 Broads – Career women who attended a select list of leading universities
ArtBreak – artist community for sharing and selling artwork.
ASmallWorld – By invitation only, for celebrities and the business elite
BeGreen – a community that aims to generate environmental awareness for users.
beRecruited – a dedicated online community for sportpersons and coaches.
Blackplanet – connections between African Americans
BottleTalk – a wine lover’s community
Blogtronix – promotes corporate social networking, enterprise 2.0 and wikis.
CafeMom – networking site for mothers
CarGurus – An automobile community website
Change – a nonprofit social networking website
ChangingThePresent – A nonprofit fund raising community
CompanyLoop – An online co-working community for global businesses.
Decorati – An interior designer community enabling users to post items for sale and for exchange.
Dogster For dog lovers everywhere
DoMyStuff – for working professionals looking to find online assistants.
Doostang – An invite only career community for professionals.
Fast Pitch – for entrepreneurs who want to market their business.
Gaia For the socially conscious crowd For the gay and lesbian community
iKarma Inc. – providing customer feedback for organizations and professionals.
ImageKind – for professional artists.
Jambo – connect with your neighborhood friends.
Lawyrs – A professional social networking community for lawyers. – for professionals in content or creative industry.
MilitaryPlanet – For members of the military
MyCatSpace – for lovers of cats
MyDogSpace – for lovers of dogs
New England Venture Network— Social networking for venture capitalists – connects business travelers assisting them to travel together.
Shelfari – A site for book lovers and authors
ShoutLife – A Christian social network
Uniteddogs – Another side for dog owners.
Ultrafan For sports fans
vSocial – a video based social networking platform

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This is just a sample. The environment is like the Wild West where these networks are popping up everywhere. Some will stick, others will fail. The ones that stick could eventually be winners in grabbing future niche advertising dollars. As I mentioned above, if I was a niche magazine publisher today, I would be building and promoting a social networking platform for the readers of my magazine.

(Originally posted on the horizonwatching.typepad