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Millennial Social Media Niche Networks

By: Sinduri Soundararajan

The growing popularity of social media has transformed common platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into crowded networks, full of a plethora of announcements, people, and news. Traditional social platforms are no longer used as distractions from the real world but are now mandatory communication tools for business, family, marketing, and everything in between. Recently,  the wide range of content produced from these networks has become too much for users to handle – individuals are instead moving to niche networks to find what they are looking for in social media.

Niche networks often are formed around a single purpose or identity and consist of a group of active members who contribute to conversations about that purpose. They allow for a personalized experience to deliver information that is relevant and valuable to each user. To learn more about this up and coming media type, Buzz Marketing Group conducted a national survey to understand this generation’s current and possible future experiences with niche networks.  

In a time when mass media and large-scale connections are available at the touch of a button, people are growing more inclined to connect in smaller, more specific ways. Based on our survey, 82% are already familiar with niche networks – and 80% are already members of private groups or networks online. 94% of our respondents stated that they would be interested in a platform created exclusively for a specific niche or topic.

Niche networks’ exact ‘niches’ range widely. For example, AngelList is a niche network geared towards connecting startups and angel investors, SERMO is a network aimed to connect doctors around the globe, MLB’s Infield Chatter allows baseball fans to respond to reports, and ResearchGate is a networking site for scientists and researchers to connect and share research. Each of these platforms have strict vetting processes for applicants to ensure the quality of networking available to users, and according to our survey, most approve of this selection method – 74% prefer private groups where membership must be approved. The niche social networks described above are just a few of countless – 78% are currently searching for niche networks that match their interests and only 54% think it is too difficult to find niche networks at the moment. According to our survey, most are looking for platforms that focus on personal wellness (66%), travel (62%), food (56%), and clothing (54%). Other areas of interest from respondents were body care, politics, household goods, and consumer electronics. More and more platforms are being created in these areas in order to further decrease this as an issue.

Niche networks are on the rise, even for those who are only exposed to common social media sites. 86% of respondents are members of smaller public groups on traditional social media platforms and websites. Niche Facebook groups, Instagram pages, and Snapchat accounts allow users to stray away from the noise on their general feed or timeline – posts from relatives, work friends, news articles, and everything in between – and scroll through a more personal and relevant feed from a smaller group. 80% pay more attention to posts and content on these niche groups than on their overall feed, and 78% of respondents said that they prefer niche networks in the form of pages or groups on existing platforms that they are already a member of. In fact, traditional media is often used to find niche networks; 93% use Facebook to do so, 65% use Instagram, 50% use Youtube, and 34% use Twitter to find smaller, more relevant platforms.

Not only are these communities providing a space for people to connect, but they also provide a way for marketers to target their campaigns toward a more concentrated audience. Social media marketing typically requires a lot of money and the campaigns are seen by a broad audience. But, with niche social communities, marketers can pay less money to micro influencers and target audiences that consist of the ideal consumer. 83% trust niche networks more than general opinions on traditional social media and websites. By marketing with micro-influencers on niche networks, a smaller group of a more dedicated audience can be reached – which will eventually form a more reliable community of active users rather than a broad yet passive audience that is usually produced by marketing on traditional social media marketing.

To find exactly which networks to target, marketers must achieve three key steps. Ideally, the product or service being sold should be unique and marketable. Niche markets tend to be small, and there is often only room for set number of players. Researching competitors and understanding the need for an original product will allow a niche to form around that product. The first step to finding which networks to target is defining a target audience. By recognizing the probable consumers and users of a product, marketers can maximize their marketing budget and cater to their needs. A defined niche makes it easier to develop new ideas that appeal to their niche. Secondly, it is important to gauge this defined audience and conduct research to understand it. By understanding the demographics of the niche network, marketers can initiate stronger connections with a niche community and gain reliability within the community.  Lastly, marketers should take advantage of the growing popularity of social networks in order to find their niche. Exploring traditional social media can help marketers understand issues that their target audience experiences. Marketers can also use social platforms to promote their product and services, and guide niche viewers to their website.