It’s a new year and therefore time for predictions of the months ahead. One strong theme that is appearing is the increase of niche and interest based social networks. This could be as Facebook and Twitter continue to expand, users are overwhelmed with the number of people and amount of content. So is it easier to target content within these huge networks or create a variety of niche interest networks for specific users to join?
There has been more focus on Google+, and Google in general. Last year saw the launch of Google+ Communities, much like Facebook and LinkedIn groups they provide users with the space to discuss specific interests within a network that they are already using and familiar with.
Specific social networks such as Food Gawker (Food), Fitocracy (Fitness), Map My Ride (Cycling) and Battle Net (Gaming), aim to bring people with the same interests together in one place to discuss and build relationships.
Almost rebelling against social media, private social networks allow a level of anonymity and discretion. Path and Everyme retain a level of privacy with the aim of enabling users to just communicate with their closest friends and family.
A step beyond private networks are anonymous networks such as Spraffl. Users can keep their identity private but still interact with others. In my opinion, it is difficult to still class this as a social network when it basically isn’t very social.
The success of Pinterest and Instagram could be due to the fact that they weren’t trying to be like Facebook or Twitter, they were different and they embraced the fact. Too many niche platforms dilutes their appeal. Pinterest rose to success but others tried to jump on the image based social network band wagon and we were slightly overwhelmed by Pinterest copies.
Brands can infiltrate niche social networks to connect with their specific target audience. There is always space for a new niche, the following points just need to be taken into consideration first:
- Are there currently any platforms dedicated to that niche already?
- Is there is enough interest to create an entire new platform?
- Would a simple group on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest be a better solution?
Time will tell but I’m sure more interest based platforms will continue to appear, and some may well see the success as found by Pinterest, but whether they have the longevity to see it through and rival Twitter or Facebook is a different story.