We all have read countless articles about how to reach audiences on the monsters of social media, Facebook and Twitter. It makes sense to pursue those outlets because seemingly everyone online is involved. The same perk that draws us to the giants is the same disadvantage that should encourage us to try elsewhere: everyone online is involved.
Think about it this way. Which would you prefer: speaking to a room of 20 people with just your speaking voice that already have a general understanding of your industry or trying to grab the attention of an entire football stadium with just a bullhorn? That’s sort of what it’s like to use niche social networking sites versus using Facebook.
You can reach more users internationally
There’s a good chance the social networks that are popular where you are located are not as popular in other areas of the world. If you seek to reach users globally, it pays to discover what social networking sites are popular in that region. You can miss out on a world, literally, of users by only focusing on the biggest sites in your neck of the woods.
For example, Bebo is the second largest social networking site in Ireland and New Zealand, third largest in the United Kingdom, and fourth largest in Australia, but it doesn’t even break the top 10 in the U.S despite it being headquartered in California. By ignoring Bebo, you are ignoring over 40 million people who could be potential customers. When broken down like that it’s a no brainer.
The audience of niche sites is more specific
If you can dream it, there is likely a social network catering to it. Because their niche is so specific, these fringe social networks do not have the high numbers that mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter have, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pursuing. An audience that is already interested in what you do can be exponentially more valuable than trying to make your specific message heard in sea of hundreds of billions of users.
Take Care2 for an example. Care2 is a social media and networking site centered around environmental and “green” issues. The site boasts over 22 million users that have already proven their interest in the green movement by creating an account. If you are a nonprofit or a company who has green practices or products, getting involved in Care2 could be highly valuable. The community at Care2 will be naturally receptive to your content. Finding a niche site in your industry is half the battle of reaching your target audience because they have already built a network for you to explore.
You can still reach millions of people
Niche does not equal small. For example, wildly successful social networking sites Instagram and Pinterest have hundreds of millions of users and are still considered a niche site by the industry because of their narrow focus on images.
Both sites have figured out that narrowing focus to just photos, while allowing little commentary, fosters a creative environment were users and brands can find their niche and excel. Trying to be anything and everything to all users, like Facebook, is not attainable or necessary for other social networks.
Because of the visual focus, these sites are not adaptable to every brand. But, if your brand has a visually interesting story to tell, you could find more success on Instagram or Pinterest than on Facebook or Twitter because the message will ring clearer.