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February 18, 2010 / Brandon Raper

Niche Social Networking

Social networking is obviously a huge platform for businesses and people to communicate and interact.  Businesses are finally taking hold of the cheap marketing provided by these sites and trying to come up with new innovative ways to do so.  Each company that finally does find a new way to tap into the market using these networks will not only have an advantage over the competition, but find a new level of interactivity and loyalty with their customers.  The only problem is, companies get greedy and people aren’t willing to learn and create a community under their name again.

The general population has embraced Twitter and Facebook and they continue to bring in new users daily.  These are the two most popular platforms while Myspace is falling far behind.  Along with these networking sites are blogs, tools like flickr, and sites like Digg.com, all producing a different reason to join.  So why did Google Buzz create so much internet buzz, yet not create a giant following?

Google Buzz is exactly like all the other networking sites.  People aren’t willing to learn a whole new platform that has a very similar function to Twitter and Facebook.  Someone reviewing Google Buzz said “Well it allows you more than 140 characters”.  That’s why people like Twitter!  It’s a different networking product, slim lining all communication in an easy and personable way.

The future of networking obviously lies in Twitter and Facebook.  These sites have no foreseeable competition and are the key leaders of social networking.  So what else is there to do?  The answer is Niche Social Networking.

There are hundreds of websites that try to create communities and interaction through a niche market.  Some of the most popular being Cafemom, Deviantart, and last.fm.  These websites are the future for companies wanting more out of their social media branch.  Twitter and facebook could take some time to gain followers and produce a loyal users that are willing to communicate daily.  Some companies have done a great job of driving viewers of commercials to social networking sites like Budweiser.  But what if these viewers feel like their facebook is too personal for beer discussion, their linkedIn is too professional, and their twitter doesn’t let them interact as strongly as they’d like?

In comes a social networking site for all beer lovers.  Some perfect sites for beer lovers are coastr.com and mustlovebeer.com.  Mustlovebeer.com has a distinct advantage over coastr due to its use of forums, polls, and frequent blogs.  Either way, these sites give users a spot to speak only of beer, whether it be rating certain beers, sharing best locations to drink beer at, or even free samples of user generated beer.

A huge mistake I’m 100% positive a lot of companies will make is that they’ll produce one of these new social networking sites, yet it will ONLY be about their products.  Let the users have free reign on discussions, don’t be afraid of what can or cannot be said about your brand, products, and company overall.

There are thousands of niche markets that can be tapped into via social networking.  It’s not going to be monumental like facebook or twitter, but the creation of a niche community would be more involving and intimate than the giants of social networking.  The future of social networking for businesses lies in the ability to create or be involved with these sites and their users.  There are plenty of opportunities to waste resources trying to be bigger and better, like Google Buzz, but no one is going to be willing to put the time and effort into creating their own community in another social network that’s isn’t differentiated.

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