Facebook is undoubtedly top of the pile when it comes to social networking. It was the first platform to break the 1,000,000,000 users, yes, count them – that’s one billion with a capitol ‘B’, and the first to use proactive marketing. Something that successful is bound to start the bandwagon rolling and in the last few years we have seen a plethora of social networking sites that can’t rival the success of Facebook this week, but who knows about next year…
The phrase, ‘Victim of its own success’ is usually used to explain some kind of tragic mistake made by a giant corporation, and this may be the case for Facebook. Facebook may have an enviable 1 billion users, but how many of them are active? With a database that large – how do you make sure that your audience is satisfied? These are two areas Facebook does NOT score well on, and has made Facebook more of ‘family and friends’ networking tool that keeps people connected and ‘in the loop’ so that it truly is a ‘social’ media. But is that enough to service a business community?
James Murray, Digital Insights Manager, Experian feels that nature of alternate networks that is bringing a new face to social media networking and with it – much success, “The growth of both Instagram and Pinterest over the past year has been phenomenal. The reason for their success is that they haven’t tried to be ‘another Facebook’. Instead, they both identified a gap in the market and used the scale of Facebook to reach consumers.”
“Over the next 12 months, we expect to see a proliferation of niche social networks,” he continued, “Offering deeper functionality combined with a lower technical barrier to entry will mean new leaders in social media being created in a matter of days versus weeks and months.”
This pattern of emerging niche networks is certainly one that is seeing serious growth. It’s become a case of ‘The dormant mass vs the active few’. Social media platforms are beginning to realise that more is not always better, and to be highly effective – you need to be selective on the audience you target, and then service them well. Will they rival Facebook in the near future… unlikely, but they’re not interested in a ‘casual user’. Some of the niche networks are experiencing greater growth than the larger platforms, so let’s take a look at them and see what they have to offer.
Nextdoor is social networking site that works in your neighbourhood. It`s niche is to get you back to belonging to the area in which you live and to be able to connect with `real` people. It’s focused on getting you away from your cyber life and to meet those around you with similar interests, or to let you know of what is going on so that you can become involved in your neighbourhood.
There is real shift in niche networks to make them small but active, so you may have less friends, but you know them all and interact with them frequently. They fulfill a need in people to have a closer circle of live contacts rather than a silent network of hundreds.
Path is network that focuses on you having a small group of people that you want to share more intimately with. Rather than just posting about your latest cup of Starbucks, Path allows you to share video, photos, posts, movies and books with your friends. It`s a lifestreaming network that lets you share more personal and applicable information with 150 friends or contacts. If you join a book club or play golf, Path will let you keep in touch with your hobby enthusiasts without all the clutter of other followers.
Path is also niche as it is set up to work on mobile networks so you can truly keep up on the go and anywhere you want. The whole atmosphere is your cyber life mirroring your `real` life and combining to two so you can make the most of the time you have. It makes your networking relevant to who you are and where you live – a perfect opportunity for marketers.
MOBILE NETWORK APPS
There are three mobile apps that also use the niche network to bring people what they want. Highlight, Ban.jo and Roamz are social-local-mobile (SoLoMo) apps that allow you to network with people in your locality so if you want to lunch, shop or hit a hot spot, you have someone to share it with. They are based primarily on mobile platforms as they have pre-empted technology’s move to everything mobile. By making the site mobile centric they have created the perfect vehicle to lead from the front in niche networking.
Niche networking is the future of social media. Mobile is the future of media. To make them work in the marketing arena will not be hard when you produce sleek design that is targeted to the niche. An excellent marketing agency can advise you what is current, effective and can be used on multiple platforms for multiple niches. By looking to the future and matching your mixed media marketing to the audience, you can stay ahead of the curve and lead your industry. The very next evolution of social mobile networking may just be YOUR bandwagon that everyone else has to jump on.