7 Targeted Social Networks Niche Marketers Should Try

    by Rachel Sprung

    Date

    October 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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    You're probably always hearing about the most popular, mainstream social networks -- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ -- and how you can use them for business. That's because these networks attract such a wide range of users, that it's easy for the majority of marketers to have success connecting with their audiences there. But you must know that those "top" social networks aren't the only ones out there, right?

    Truth be told, there are hundreds of other, niche social networks on the web that, depending on your particular audience or your goals, can also be well worth it for you to participate in.

    Why Niche Social Networks Are Valuable

    A social network can be considered "niche" if either A) the focus of the social network is much more specific (e.g. a social network just for events), or B) the users it attracts are much more targeted than those of social networks that cater to a wide range of users (e.g. a social network just for animal lovers).

    The beauty of niche social networks is that they take the step of targeting and segmentation out of the marketer's job. So for example, if your business sells yarn and you're a marketer participating in a social network for knitters, you already have a much more targeted audience at your disposal than you would on a social network like Facebook. And we all know how much more effective your marketing can be when segmentation is involved, right? So before you devote all your social media marketing time to just the top networks, it behooves you to do some research into whether there are any niche social networks populated by your audience.

    Not sure what kinds of niche social networks have popped up on the web? Here are 7 of some of the more targeted social networks to open your eyes to what's out there. Have you heard of or used any of these before? Go ahead -- try 'em out!

    1) Quora

    Quora is often a forgotten social network, but it's also one of the most valuable. Quora aims to provide answers to almost any question you can think of. From questions about marketing to questions about coding, Quora provides a great resource to both users looking for answers, and marketers seeking to position themselves as thought leaders. Think of it as a much broader version of LinkedIn Answers!

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • Ask questions about your industry to collect direct insights into what your audience is thinking.
    • Answer questions about your company, industry, or even competitors. This will help you position yourself and your company as a thought leader. (Note: Disclose what company you're from for the sake of transparency -- and credibility!)
    • When possible, provide links to resources such as blog articles that help to answer users' questions.
    • When appropriate, sprinkle in links to some of your educational lead-gen content such as ebooks and webinars to capture Quora users as business leads.
    • Connect with other marketers on the network to see what is or isn't working for them.

    2) Meetup

    Attending and planning events is an important part of any marketer's job. Meetup makes this responsibility easier for almost every industry. Whether you're hosting or looking to attend an event that focuses on marketing, health, lifestyle, literature, or even family, pets, sci-fi, or photography, Meetup provides a centralized network with information on the events happening in your area. Marketers who want to reach a particular industry can immediately identify the right events and connect with attendees even before they attend.

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • Identify relevant industry events to attend. Not only will you be able to see all the industry's events in one place, but you'll also be able to find networking opportunities before the event even starts.
    • Publicize your own events and attract more attendees by industry or geography.
    • Find inspiration! Get cool event ideas from other cities, and bring them to life in your own area.

    3) Care2

    The trend toward "going green" isn't exactly breaking, but it has caused an uptick in many marketers making sure their marketing campaigns use environmentally friendly processes. The social network, Care2, popped up as people came together to discuss this eco-friendly type of lifestyle and educate others about it. And more and more, marketers need to use these practices in everything they do to cater to this growing audience. By participating in this social network, marketers can educate themselves about the ways they can implement eco-friendly tactics into their marketing strategies.

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • Research, research, research! Implementing green strategies into your marketing isn't easy. Learn what others are doing.
    • Talk to people in this community, and see what they really care about. What topics matter most? Is your marketing aligned?
    • Does your company sell products/services that cater to eco-friendly users? Then you're golden! Research what eco-friendly issues are prevalent among your audience to inform your content creation, marketing, product decisions.

    4) Gentlemint

    When the popularity of Pinterest began to rise, we noticed the emergence of another social network catered to men's needs and interests: Gentlemint. Often called the "Pinterest for men," Gentlemint has a similar layout to Pinterest with a layout of images that can be commented on and re-shared. But instead of pictures of fashion, food, and babies, there are pictures of guns, cars, and alcohol -- a community perfect for businesses selling products/services that appeal to the male demographic.

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • If your target audience is comprised mostly of men, use Gentlemint to do some research about what the male demographic is interested in. See what they're sharing, and identify what's popular (and what's not).
    • Host Pinterest-like contests to drive traffic from Gentlemint to your website and engage your audience with your brand.
    • Apply Pinterest best practices and set up a board (or a few) through which you can connect with Gentlemint. Here are 28 creative pinboard ideas you can adapt to cater to the Gentlemint audience.

    5) CafeMom

    Mommy bloggers have become a very popular resource for promoting products and services to other mothers looking for parenting advice. CafeMom is a popular network that gathers these mommy bloggers on one platform to share on childcare through blogs, videos, and games. This audience is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to marketers who are trying to get the attention of mothers.

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • Blog about and share information that is useful to mothers, and share it in the network. Give advice about parenting, and recommend products or services that might be useful to them.
    • Research the articles and videos this audience is posting to get a sense of the topics that garner the most clicks and views. Figure out how to incorporate these topics into your content creation strategy.
    • Make connections with other mothers to learn about the problems, challenges, and interest. Ask questions/survey them to learn how to better market to them.

    6) ThirdAge

    The fastest growing age group on the internet is senior citizens. More than ever, Baby Boomers and seniors are connecting online with each other and their families. As a result, the internet has become a resource for seniors to get advice from each other on health, aging, and retirement. This is where ThirdAge comes in. ThirdAge boasts newsletters, groups, discussion boards, videos, articles, classes, games, and more designed to help females ages 50+ connect and get advice -- perfect for marketers whose products/services appeal to an older generation.

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • Research to discover better ways to reach this audience. How do they like being marketed to? What do they like or dislike?
    • Peruse the forums to learn what issues this demographic struggles with. Can you create and share content that helps address these issues and provides solutions?

    7) Athlinks

    Athlinks is a social network for athletes to compare statistics and network with each other. With over 266,000 members, it allows athletes to provide information about themselves such as the sports they're interested in and lists local races and events athletes can attend to meet up with other like-minded athletes. It also includes an athlete directory to search by person or location. This network is great for marketers whose products/services cater to the athletically inclined.

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    How Marketers Can Use This Network

    • Using the event feature, find out and attend events that are popular among the types of athletes you cater to. This could be a great opportunity to chat with your buyer personas and even publicize some of your products and services in person.
    • If you're a local business, search for and connect with members of the different clubs your audience may be a part of by location. 
    • Share a relevant article or participate in the 'Action Spy' section of the website to participate in the conversation.

    What other niche social networks have you found handy?

    Image Credit: mateoutah

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