3 Reasons to Create a Social Network for Your Niche Community

Posted on February 13th 2013

3 Reasons to Create a Social Network for Your Niche Community

Social engagement is a big challenge for all businesses, especially those that cater to niche communities. The biggest mistake is assuming that you can simply create a profile on a mainstream social network and your followers will actively engage. The reality is that many niche audiences don’t want to interact with your business through Facebook and Twitter because they use those networks to connect with all their friends and family members — not just those who share their interests.

create a social network for your community

Your niche audience — whether they are serious gamers, mommy bloggers, or fitness enthusiasts — really wants a partitioned social network specific to one aspect of their lives. An online place where they can interact solely with people who share their interests rather than with everyone they know. Here are three reasons you should invest in building a social community from scratch.

1. Privacy

Partitioned social networks offer communities heightened privacy. While social networks like Facebook may offer a wide breadth of interactions, they are specifically designed for sharing what is going on in our personal lives with everyone we know.

But when it comes to our specific interests, we like to choose which audience hears our message. We surveyed gamers who told us that they didn’t feel comfortable broadcasting their gaming activities to their networks on “established” sites. We saw a need to create a social outlet specific to gamers where they could feel comfortable sharing their accomplishments with people who are interested in the same topics.

It makes sense to share different types of information with each community we belong to. When something happens in our business life, we want to tell our network on LinkedIn. When something happens in our personal life, we want to tell our friends on Facebook. People don’t want everyone to know everything about them, and social networking is becoming more about who you are sharing information with than what you are sharing. 

The privacy of a niche community also allows you to keep your friends separate. You can interact with friends you meet online through a niche social network without giving them access to your personal network on Facebook where they can see everything about your family, relationship, children, and profession.

2. Ability to Offer Specific Features

Since mainstream networks are so broad, they simply can’t cater to every niche. Vertical social networks, however, have the incentives and ability to create advanced features for one audience. Community-driven sites can go deeper instead of wider; the people who are a part of these niches are looking for a place where they can participate in particular activities with other people who are like them.

To build a network your niche will love, it’s important to build your team from within the community. These people will be able to spot issues as they arise because they are familiar with the content, and they will be looking for the same things as your users. This also makes it much more likely that the community will grow organically and feel natural to other users.

As you begin developing your network, it’s good to start small. Focus on one particular need or want in that community. Even niche communities have a myriad of issues and community-specific nuances, and you should work to address these one at a time.

3. Micro and Macro Network Effects

In a niche community, network effects are powerful on both a micro and macro scale.

Micro network effects exist when a small group of your peers are a part of the social community. For gamers, these effects are felt when members of your guild, clan, or team are already on the same network. Users are able to easily see and interact with their friends or team members, which boosts engagement.

Macro network effects appear when a member benefits from the size of the community and interactions with people they don’t necessarily know offline. On Duxter, our gamers benefit from the macro network effects when they see or interact with content that is shared from outside their direct network. Gamers learn and gain access to information from the thousands of members who are playing the same game or interested in a specific subject.

Another example of these micro and macro effects can be easily seen on Twitter. Users create individual lists and interact with a core group of people interested in similar topics on a regular basis and have access to a wide variety of content from individuals, brands, or organizations they simply follow. By creating a niche social community, the users are not only able to interact with others in a personal way, but they also benefit from the larger community’s knowledge and sharing.

If you’ve been struggling to get people in your niche to participate in mainstream social networks or you are frustrated with the limitations those networks impose, consider creating your own network. It could be the engagement solution you’ve been looking for. 

AdamLieb

Adam Lieb

CEO, Duxter

Adam Lieb is the founder and CEO of Duxter, the LinkedIn for Gamers. Duxter is a funded startup in Seattle, Wash., poised to be “the next big thing” in gaming. Rather than listening to the conventional wisdom that “playing games was a waste of time,” Adam turned his passion into a business. Connect with Adam on the web, Google +, and Twitter.

See Full Profile >

Comments

Social Annex
Posted on February 13th 2013 at 6:59PM

I think it's important to touch on the fact that different sites are for different purposes and social media sites. The more social media grows the more the dominating sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are active with more users who spend more time online. It's almost like social media has become the public world and we seek now someplace private to exist online with other, the equivelent of an apartment, library, or exclusive nightclub. As social media grows so will these niche sites and they will expand in diversity. There will be a social media site with branch sites for every lifestyle, hobby, and interest group imaginable. It will be interesting to see what new features and interfaces will evolve as a results of this. 

AdamLieb
Posted on February 15th 2013 at 6:37PM

The biggest question will be how does Facebook respond. They obviously don't want to lose all of those conversations. It will be interesting to see where all of these communications exist in 5 years and how the major networks cater to the niche. It will happen, the question is whether or not it will be successful. 

Drew Frey
Posted on February 13th 2013 at 11:17PM

Great article Adam and thanks for the insight. 

I think you hit the nail on the head here; specifically regarding Privacy. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to broadcast these interest on the bigger social networks like Facebook. Chances are even if you do, your opinions will fall on deaf ears. 

With custom social networks that are focused on a particular topic, you'll instantly talk with those who share your passion, no matter the subject matter. 

Oustide of Duxter, what are your favorite niche online communities? 

-Drew

Community Manager at SocialEngine

 

 

AdamLieb
Posted on February 15th 2013 at 6:35PM

Linkedin is an obvious favorite for me. I don't love hearing everyone I went to business school with broadcast their latest work stuff on Facebook. I prefer to communicate with most of them through Linkedin. A hot new SN for sports is Fanzo.me which is pretty cool. 

Drew Frey
Posted on February 15th 2013 at 6:46PM

I should really spend some more time on LinkedIn. I'll post articles there and that's about where it ends for me but I haven't taken advantage of all of the great groups/communities yet. 

Need more time! 

Thanks again Adam.

Drew

Community Manager at SocialEngine

AdamLieb
Posted on February 15th 2013 at 7:17PM

Groups are very hit or miss. So many of them get clogged up with spam and self promotion. I haven't had many amazing experiences there just yet. 

simonosb1
Posted on June 12th 2013 at 12:56PM

Hi, my name is Simon, I am the founder of Social Niche. We create branded social networks for people using our community software. Our goal is to make building a social network as simple as possible. We install, customise and host everything, and provide the best tools to grow and monetise your network and watch members turn into marketers. We appreciate that we won't be to everyones taste but please check us out http://www.socialniche.co.uk