Social media is no longer just an optional add-on for businesses: It’s a requirement for staying competitive. Today’s customers are hyperconnected to their devices and networks, using them to not only socialize but also receive the recommendations and information they need to make purchases.
According to Facebook, more than 1.2 billion people use its platform and in excess of 30 million businesses have active pages. Twitter is also growing quickly as a promotional platform with more than 4.5 million small businesses signed up, according to a Wall Street Journal article last fall. It has 271 million monthly active users and 500 Tweets sent each day. So with Facebook and Twitter commanding so much traffic, does it make sense to focus your time and energies on those sites?
Well, yes and no. I’m definitely not suggesting that you neglect those social-media giants. But as with any investment, it makes sense to diversify. You don’t want to put all your marketing eggs in one highly fragmented basket.
If you have a very specific target market (musicians, physicians or even zombie film directors, let’s say), your company might have a significantly larger impact on a niche social network. Although the overall pool of users is smaller, it might contain a higher ratio of people who might be interested in your product or service. You can then more effectively tailor your content to unique needs, interests and experiences.
Plus, Facebook and Twitter are already saturated with posts and ads from businesses similar to yours, which means the audience might be already a bit tired of posts from this sector, if not ignoring them altogether. On a smaller, lesser-known platform, your social-media activity might resonate with a more receptive and perhaps less cynical, group of users. Here are some sites worth exploring:
Want to reach more than a million moms? CafeMom is the place. All it takes is a few engaged users, and you could see your product or service featured on highly trafficked “mommy blogs” around the world.
Designed for book lovers, this niche social-media site caters to more than 25 million bibliophiles. Users can chat in forums on Goodreads about books, authors, characters, plots, and anything reading related. The site also offers quizzes and book clubs.
This site has received a lot of recent press, as many Facebook users have migrated to the smaller, simpler Ello in protest of Facebook’s enforcement of its real name requirement. Ello differs from Facebook in that it allows for anonymous posting and offers an ad-free environment.
Similar to Pinterest, Kaboodle presents images featured by users. But this site is focused on shopping and lets users create style boards for their favorite looks. A fashion startup or related firm can tap into the more than 5 million monthly visitors.
Consumers post questions on Quora about a vasty array topics, from car repair to wills. Find the inquiries that relate to your industry or specialty and then position yourself as an expert in the field. It’s an easy, free way to build a base of fans and followers.
The site's users can lead a "healthy, sustainable lifestyle" and "support socially responsible causes," according to Care2 's description. By its accounting, the social action network has members in excess of 16 million. The site relies on stories, blogs and syndication to cover topics, leaving plenty of room for users to step in and position themselves as experts and help give their health and fitness company a boost.
With all its crafts, quotes and kid-party ideas, Pinterest is known for its large female user base. Meet its male counterpart, Gentlemint. Men can seek and share the stuff that interests them, from craft beers to football.
These are just a small sampling of niche sites. Whether your company makes tree houses or tennis equipment, a specialized online community will value what you have to say (and sell). When you reach a more targeted audience primed for your message, you’ll likely enjoy higher conversions of visitors to customers and quicker word-of-mouth marketing among a group with common interests and needs.
Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.