Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+; in the realm of all things social, these networksare gods among men. So when it comes to social media marketing for business, it makes perfect sense that every business should have a presence on each of these platforms, right?
Well, no, obviously. Every good marketer knows some businesses are just wrong for some of the big guys. Kuno Creative, a champion of content marketing, for example, isn’t the right fit for Pinterest but works well on LinkedIn. And while a photography business can have a Twitter presence, time and resources are much better spent on photo-centric platforms like Tumblr and Flickr.
So if it’s true that some (or all) of the major social networks are wrong for some businesses, can’t it also be true that niche social networks are right for businesses? It’s a question I’ve run into a lot lately, as one of my clients is growing increasingly interested in Houzz, a collaborative social network beloved by interior designers and decorators that provides people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish. Although Houzz boasts more than one million home design photos, its user base just doesn’t compare to Facebook’s one billion users. So is it worth my and my client’s time?
In my opinion, the answer is yes. Here are two reasons:
Do you ever have those pesky Facebook users comment on your businesses’ wall asking why they’re seeing “advertisements” for your business in their News Feeds? Or why a Facebook friend liked a brand page post mortem? (Yes, it happens.) These users are victims of sponsored stories, and if they were in your target demographic, they’re certainly not going to “like” your business now.
Inbound marketing is all about capturing leads and guiding them through the sales funnel, all the while weeding out unqualified leads. Niche social networks give your business the distinct advantage of targeting leads that are likely marketing qualified from the get-go.
Call it a strategy, a tactic or a bunch of hullabaloo, engagement is still a primary concern for social media marketers. And by focusing more efforts on niche social networks, marketers have an opportunity to increase engagement exponentially. How? Niche gets shared.
Take this, for example: A few weeks ago, Kuno Creative Web Developer Jesse Pennington wrote a blog about displaying HTML code on a HubSpot blog without the platform translating the code. The topic was so specific, so niche, HubSpot hadn’t even addressed it in its support forums. And you know what? The marketing software company picked it up and shared it with its nearly 450,000 Facebook followers. Now imagine if we’d shared Jesse’s post on a niche web development blog. We wouldn’t have reached nearly as many people, but I believe engagement would have been exponentially higher than the two likes it received on our Facebook page.
Whether you agree or disagree that niche social networks are worth the time, it should be noted that they’re on the rise. In a Social Media Today article, Experian Digital Insights Manager James Murray predicted a “proliferation of niche social networks” with lower barriers to entry in 2013, so it’s best to be prepared. If you’ve already discovered a niche social network you believe may be worth your business’ time, I suggest checking out this PRWeek article by Victoria Graham for next steps.
What are your thoughts on niche social networks? Share them in the comment section!