Staying in the niche
About niche platforms & why they are beneficial
Social media’s role in our society is paramount. Shama Hyder of Fast Company reported that the number of social media users sky-rocketed to nearly four billion users in 2020 (Hyder, 2021). Furthermore, Hyder explained that the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in changing behaviors on social media due to a shift in in-person interactions (Hyder, 2021). We rely on social media platforms to communicate and understand our world.
While mainstream platforms [such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok] continue to dominate the Internet, niche platforms are influential but often overlooked. Unlike the broader scope of mainstream social media platforms, brands and influencers rely on niche platforms to engage with their audiences. As I learned earlier this week from Professor Blitch, a distinct characteristic of niche platforms is their ability to reach narrow audiences with a specific interest [i.e., home improvement]. In turn, these audiences are incredibly engaged and passionate about a particular brand or influencer.
How focusing on a niche platform(s) benefit your social strategy
Albizu Garcia of Entrepreneur explains in the article, 3 Reasons to Pay Attention to Niche Social Networks, that niche platforms benefit social strategies because they create closed communities (Garcia, 2019). Generally, users on niche platforms seek a specific product/service. As a result, the closed communities and promoted interactions are especially appealing. Overall, niche platforms enable like-minded users to express themselves, collaborate, and learn from each other (Garcia, 2019).
On the flip side, there is more to niche platforms than communicating with users demonstrating similar interests. Hyder emphasizes in the Inc. article, Why Niche Communities Are the Future of Social Media Marketing, that “It isn’t enough to make niche consumers aware of your product; they need to know what makes it different, better, and specific to their needs” (Hyder, n.d.). Because these users are highly knowledgeable about the products or services shared on niche platforms, they could almost be considered thought leaders in their industry. Therefore, brands should be creative when developing key messages for niche platforms to ensure audiences are engaged and that their needs are met.
Niche platform examples
Well-known niche platforms include Dribbble, Care2, Nextdoor, and Houzz.
Dribbble: Like LinkedIn, Dribbble enables graphic designers to showcase their work, search for jobs, and network with like-minded professionals. Additionally, Dribbble is an excellent niche platform for graphic designers to learn about current trends in the industry and save inspiration for future projects.
Care2: Care2 is an online platform that mobilizes activism. This platform is well-known for its ability for activists to create petitions in various sectors, including animal rights [users do not have to be affiliated with a particular cause to sign a petition]. Care2 would be most suited for individuals, activists, and businesses that want to make a positive local and global impact.
Houzz: Houzz is an online niche platform for architecture, interior design, decorating, landscaping design, and home improvement. Houzz would be an excellent niche platform for individuals looking to renovate their homes, interior designers, and landscapers.
Nextdoor: Lastly, Nextdoor is a social networking platform for neighborhoods to promote two-way communication and create safer communities. Users can send messages, ask for recommendations, and post about neighborhood happenings like lost pets through this platform.
Lastly, an example of an influencer who successfully uses niche platforms is Courtney Sheilds. She is a content creator who shares her life and passions for fashion and beauty on social media and her blog. Along with being an influencer, Sheilds founded/co-founded two companies: Bow and Brooklyn and DIBS Beauty. Moreover, Sheilds has 967 thousand followers on Instagram, where she reaches a tailored audience through various types of content [posts, stories, reels, and IGTV videos]. Outside of her Instagram page, she uses the Shop.LTK app, a niche platform that enables users to “shop your screenshots.”
For example, when Sheilds recently shared a Valentine’s Day-inspired makeup look, hundreds of users commented asking for information about the products she used. She responded to many of the comments that the product information is linked in the Shop.LTK app. By utilizing the Shop.LTK app, Shields can ensure that her communication is precise while cultivating an engaged follower base.
Courtney Sheilds. [@courtney_sheilds]. (2022, January 13). Something sweet for Valentine’s Day 💗✨ @dibsbeauty shade 2 blush @patrickta @diorbeauty @ctilburymakeup #valentinesday #valentineslook #softglam #makeuptutorial #austinmakeup #liketkit @shop.ltk https://liketk.it/3vTt5 [Video]. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CYsLhiDAIsT/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Garcia, A. (2019, September 23). 3 Reasons to Pay Attention to Niche Social Networks. Entrepreneur. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/339532
Hyder, S. (2021, November 10). How Niche Platforms Will Dominate Social Media in 2021 and Beyond. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90693507/how-niche-platforms-will-dominate-social-media-in-2021-and-beyond
Hyder, S. (n.d.). Why Niche Communities Are the Future of Social Media Marketing. Inc. https://www.inc.com/shama-hyder/why-niche-communities-are-future-of-social-media-marketing.html
Shields, C. [@courtney_sheilds]. (n.d.). Posts [Instagram profile]. Instagram. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from https://www.instagram.com/courtney_shields/?hl=en