Niche Social Sites are Tribes with Purpose
Niche social platforms allow users specific reasons for organizing other than just to be social, which makes them different from major social sites like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. People become members of these niche socials in order to be social about a particular topic. Some are industry focused, like Houzz, while others are hobby focused, like Goodreads. Care2 is a social activism site for creating and signing petitions, and Meetup helps people form groups to meet in person. The reason these sites appeal to users can be quite varied, but the appeal to marketers is specific.
The top reason for marketers and brands to care about niche socials comes down to the communities these sites create. They gather groups of people around a shared interest. While marketing to a smaller group of eyeballs may fly in the face of traditional advertising goals, it is now a best practice for communicating with groups of stakeholders.
With the trend of “push messaging” giving way to creating communities and beginning conversations, it only makes sense that a brand hangs with its own tribe. I use the word tribe intentionally as a nod to Marshall McLuhan who observed this trend in his theories about media and communication. Tribes have always existed, but on social platforms, the geographic location of the tribe and its members is irrelevant.
Conversing and community building with a tribe is more efficient than push messaging. Assuming a company has properly identified the niche social that best corresponds with its brand, the brand only needs to prove it belongs. The best way to belong is to be a good member, provide engaging content, begin conversations, and demonstrate thought leadership and responsiveness to the community.
Angi, formerly known as Angie’s List, uses niche social site Nextdoor to advertise. Because Nextdoor is a neighborhood based social site, users often take to it looking for recommendations of businesses. Angi is a referral and review service, and its presence on Nextdoor is a great example of participating in its tribe. The people on Nextdoor use it to discuss problems and issues within their own neighborhoods. Many times, those problems are within a user’s home itself and so Angi is right to advertise on Nextdoor. This niche social has a reputation for being a “bitchfest” for people to complain about traffic and post their lost pets. Once users are done listening to neighbors they don’t like, they can sign up for Angi in order to read qualified reviews from people who have used the services and vendors being considered.
Arthrex is a privately held company with its international headquarters located here in Naples, Florida. It manufactures arthroscopic surgical tools and implant devices and markets them to surgeons and hospitals. Arthrex also provides robust education seminars to surgical professionals at its global headquarters. Its marketing is business to business (not b2c), and so reaching out to audiences on large social sites like Facebook would be ineffective.
An appropriate niche site for Arthrex is Sermo, which is designed and dedicated to serving healthcare professionals. Sermo provides data services, knowledge base, a Q&A environment (anonymous, if desired) and more. For companies like Arthrex, Sermo offers its Pages, “to provide a forum for healthcare-related companies to interact directly with physicians by showcasing brands, sharing news and marketing messages, listing educational opportunities, and soliciting physician participation in clinical trials” (InTouch Team, 2016). If Arthrex isn’t already present and engaging with surgeons on Sermo, it should be.
Niche social sites provide brands access to groups of people who’ve already organized themselves around a shared interest or purpose. Audience guesswork is eliminated on these sites and brands can generate targeted messaging to better reach users on niche socials. Finally, brand presence on a niche site is more effective for conversions and aids in reputation management.
Blitch, K. (2021, May 31). Niche Platforms [Presentation]. University of Florida.
InTouch Team. (2016, April 4). Sermo offers new social capabilities for pharma marketers. InTouch Solutions. https://www.intouchsol.com/blog/sermo-offers-new-social-capabilities-pharma-marketers/
Sermo. (n.d.). Sermo Business. https://www.sermo.com/business/about-business/
Tengyart. (2021, January 29). A bright juicy white and red hunting target on a rusty metal wall. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/R-TJ8yVu640
Schneider, I. (2016, February 16). Passion led us here. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/TamMbr4okv4
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National Cancer Institute. (2020, January 22). Doctors performing surgery. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/KrsoedfRAf4
Originally published at https://www.communicationiseverywhere.com on June 6, 2021.