While there is no doubt that the likes of Facebook and Twitter will continue to grow, the phenomenal growth of Instagram and Pinterest have shown that there are rather large niches that Facebook did not cover that well. (Well OK, so Facebook has now bought Instagram). In the case of Instagram, growth was driven by the demand for primarily visual media consumed on a smart mobile device – and increasing use of mobile consumption is itself still a significant trend in 2013. But there are true niche and some geographically local Social Media Networks that small businesses in the UK might do well to attend to if they want to keep ahead of the Social Media curve in 2013.
An excellent example of both a niche and a kind of localised Social Media Network is, “mapmyride.com”. The simple idea is that members can log-in to find a cycle route recommended by another member in a particular area. Although the site is dominated by rides based in the US, it is only a matter of time before there is significant take up of this service in the UK. For example, there are already hundreds of routes specified around London, but no so many around Sheffield or York. The interesting part is that the routes are “community self generated”. As more members join, the quality and depth of routes available improves exponentially. Other niche Social Media Networks include those focused on Food and Eating out. For example, “Foodspotting.com”. There are also micro niche networks focused on exclusivity like “Top 1%”, not mention the many Dating and Introduction Networks of various intent and nature.
In theory, there could be as many niche and local Social Networks to join (and exploit as a small business) as there are ideas, hobbies and organisations. The point for the typical small business sis that it might be easier to make a splash as a big fish in a small pond than trying to batter your way through the clutter on a generalised site like Facebook. It makes sense, especially if you run a business that serves a community of like-minded individuals or if your niche content expertise can draw a loyal crowd.
Add to this the fact that it is now relatively easy to start your own fully functioning Social Media Network with an application like, “Buddy Press” and the opportunities for a small or local business with vision are endless. And of course, the small business that has the will to start a niche network will own all the customer data (rather than Facebook or Twitter). Now that is the real asset!
While there have been niche forums and niche bulletin board sites ever since the Internet was invented, interestingly, it has been the growth of Facebook itself and applications that allow users to verify them easily using their Facebook Profile that has enabled the swift take up of niche Social Media Networks. So everything is in place to make 2013 your year to launch a successful niche network. Good Luck!