Every day more and more businesses take up the challenge of social media marketing, but many forget a crucial component for success: identifying the correct channels in which to invest.
Sure, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are extremely valuable when building powerful brand ambassadors via personal connections. But with 1 billion users sharing millions of links daily, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter and identify what really makes your fans tick.
To fill the exclusivity gap that major social networks often lack, niche-specific networks have cropped up and are becoming an increasingly important part of an effective social media strategy.
Think of niche social networks as the icing on top of the cake—also known as your existing social media strategy. They’re not a necessary component, but they provide delicious marketing value to complement larger referral program goals—mainly interacting with highly targeted groups of potential influencers.
Niche networks make it easy for brands to engage directly with their target audiences. By investing resources into these networks, brands can be sure they’re getting a strong ROI from their marketing efforts by (1) targeting users who are ready to purchase; (2) improving relationships with current vendors; (3) initiating low-cost test campaigns that provide insights into more comprehensive strategies on the major social networks; and (4) researching the language, attitudes, and wants of those customers who are most likely to engage with a brand’s message and personality.
As we all know, the first stage of any referral marketing program should be targeting and segmenting consumers to accurately showcase value. By initiating low-cost test campaigns on smaller sites, your brand can learn what types of content your customer base will be sharing (photos, videos, written blogs, etc.), how and where they’re sharing it, and how likely they are to engage with other marketing efforts.
Take the up-and-coming social network GoodReads, for example. GoodReads allows members to connect with fellow readers and share reviews and suggestions on what’s hot in the literary world. The network keeps things intimate and cuts out all of the exhausting chatter that can fill up Facebook newsfeeds.
In essence, GoodReads is like a small, social book club with close friends and new acquaintances. Facebook, meanwhile, is a literary convention packed with industry leaders and influencers. While it’s an extremely effective way to build powerful brand ambassadors via a massive network of influencers, it lacks the more personalized vibe of a smaller social gathering.
But keep in mind that the concept of a niche network isn’t limited to an entirely distinct website; it’s applicable to larger networks as well. For instance, Pinterest’s pinboards apply similar concepts (giving people a space in which to curate and share interest-specific content), thereby allowing brands to focus their marketing efforts toward users who are the most likely to share about their products and ultimately expand the reach of these businesses.
For the B2B marketer, Q&A sites such as Quora provide a space to develop thought leadership by answering questions and concerns from potential customers. Quora also utilizes a “pinboard” type feature, creating smaller, personalized message boards for answering industry-specific questions.
Are you ready to take your marketing efforts to niche communities? Here’s a great list of networks to get you going.