January 20th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler
Facebook and Twitter get a lot of attention in the media and from marketing experts and for good reason. They are the most popular social networksout there, and because of that, you have the opportunity to reach a far wider audience than you do on many smaller sites.
But niche social network sites have one big advantage: they have a clear target demographic. And sometimes that can make them more effective than the larger social networks. Here are a few examples of niche social networks and how they may benefit small businesses.
Dogster and Catster – These sites aren’t for humans. They’re for pets. Dogs and cats have profiles, get treats, and chat. The site offers many ways for people to connect using groups and forums. If you run any pet-related business, signing up for these social network sites ensures that you are connecting with your target audience: pet owners. However, be sure to follow the site’s community guidelines and terms of services since they do place restrictions on how businesses can use the social network.
GoodReads – If you are an expert in a specific field or teach classes, GoodReads can be a great way to connect with others who have an interest in your area. You can start or join a group, and people can follow your profile to get recommendations for books. Of course, this social network is also great if you own a bookstore to connect with potential customers.
Ravelry – If you work with yarn and patterns, this is the place to be. Knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, and dyers come to this site to share tips, trade patterns, and meet like-minded people. Many small businesses credit the site with helping them become successful since they offer inexpensive advertising opportunities as well as a way to connect with customers.
These are just a few examples of an ever-growing list of social networks that focus on one particular shared interest. Do an internet search to find out whether there is a social network that may be of interest to your business.
When entering any social network, it’s important to remember that you want to be a part of the conversation and an asset to the community first. This is even more important in niche social networks where users may be less accustomed to receiving overt marketing messages. The idea is to develop a relationship with your followers and provide them with something of value, so that they will want to learn more about you and your company.