When you think of social media, the biggest social networks likely come to mind: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat. While many brands are already capitalizing on these channels, there are smaller, niche social media sites that can further aid your content marketing strategy.
Niche social media sites often have smaller user bases, but they tend to be more engaged because the audience is more targeted. You also don’t have to compete with millions of other brands like you do on the larger social networks, so there’s a greater chance that your content will be seen and your audience will engage.
Here are some examples of niche social media sites and how some brands are leveraging them.
For every homeowner (or renter, even) who has dreams of creating an HGTV-worthy home, Houzz is a go-to app and website for inspiration and tools that will help you get the job done. Here, you’ll find photos, articles, products and forums, with topics spanning from interior design to architecture, landscaping to home improvement. Houzz also has a searchable selection of pros, based on location and area of expertise. Users can hire these pros if they’re not into the whole idea of DIY or would like some professional guidance.
While you can use it to follow your friends and other individuals who have impeccable taste, brands are also using Houzz to engage with their audience. Brands can create projects and ideabooks, add photos and products, and answer questions. Houzzers can follow these brands and see their updates and engage with their posts.
A range of brands have taken to Houzz, from Anthropologie with its whimsical products and décor ideas, to Kohler’s ideas for ways to incorporate their products in kitchens and bathrooms. If you’re looking for ideas on how to use it for your brand, check out Houzz’s tips for creating an effective brand presence on their platform.
For the avid beer drinker—or craft brew connoisseur, if you want to be fancy about it—Untappd is an app and website that helps you track, rate and discover craft beers. When you taste a beer, you “check in” to it on Untappd, give it a rating, and add an optional photo and location check-in.
I use it sometimes (ok, all the time) so that I can remember which beers I like and which ones I don’t. Breweries can create their own profiles and discover who’s been drinking their libations. They can “cheers” or comment your check-in, and it’s really awesome when they do (for example, D9 Brewing always gives me cheers when I check in to their beers). This helps to build loyalty and allows the brands to connect with their customers and gain insights with Untappd’s analytics tools.
Users earn badges the more they check in (as if they need an incentive to continue tasting). Breweries can also sponsor badges, encouraging users to taste and check in to their beers to earn the badge—a way to boost sales and incentivize it. While only breweries may create pages, all sorts of brands have the ability to pay for sponsored badges. For instance, SXSW has created badges in the past, awarding users for checking in to beers in the Austin area.
Allrecipes is “the original and largest food-focused social network created for cooks by cooks; where everyone plays a part in helping cooks discover and share the joy of home cooking.” The website and mobile app go beyond recipes—expect to find videos, how-tos, personalized recommendations, and—you guessed it—brands. Users can like, favorite and follow recipes and brands, as well as add them to their personal collections.
Obviously, this is the perfect social platform for food brands. Brands that use Allrecipes can interact with users, as well as supply recipes that typically incorporate their food products, like Hillshire Farm or Swanson. However, Allrecipes isn’t limited to brands food and beverage product brands; there are others, like Dixie and Reynolds, that specialize in food-related products.
But there are some surprises. Take a look at NASCAR, for example. NASCAR Race Day Recipes creates further conversation around their brand to give fans something tasty to make on race day. The bridal magazine mywedding posts recipes that a bride-to-be might need, such as cocktail hour appetizers, bridal shower bites and drinks.
MapMyFitness—and all of its variations (MapMyRun, MapMyRide, etc.)—is a fitness-tracking app that also has a robust desktop experience. Users can add friends, like and comment on others’ workouts, participate in fitness challenges, and log other wellness-related stats.
You won’t see any brands logging miles or recording their yoga workouts, but you will see sponsored challenges that encourage users to engage with brands in an organic way. Challenges can last a week, a month or even a year. Creating challenges that last for a span of time keeps users coming back and creates familiarity with the brand.
Dick’s currently has a month-long challenge called Run Like a Bandit, which challenges participants to run 30 miles in 30 days. A year-long challenge, Under Armour’s You vs. the Year requires you run 1,000 kilometers in 2016 in order to be eligible to win prizes. These incentive-based challenges not only provide the possibility for material reward, but motivate users to do something they’re passionate about.
The advantage of using niche social media networks allows brands to reach a highly targeted audience, without having to proactively find those people with targeting on Facebook and other platforms. To be successful, find the networks that focus on passion points of your audience, and provide useful, relevant content to encourage people to engage with your brand.