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Niche social networks: Too focused or a playground for smaller brands?

For a while now it has been the general belief that bigger brands with all the budget are making it nearly impossible for smaller brands with less budget to cut through the clutter and get themselves heard in advertising spaces. But how true is this statement when there are a lot of smaller niche sites out there?

Where are the major brands advertising?
The major consumer brands are spending a lot of advertising and marketing budget on the major social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. This makes sense, because there is a lot of activity on these social networks with huge audiences and excellent demographic targeting to ensure that your brand is reaching the right audience at the right time.

Things are, however, beginning to change slightly. You just have to look at the results of an Awareness Inc survey which took place late in 2011 to see that this is the case. The results from the social marketing software firm show that 70% of respondents are looking at expanding their presence across social media platforms.

Granted this will mean that a lot of people are going to begin or intensify their presence on the three major social networks; but there are a lot of other websites and networks that are incredibly focused on specific demographics and audiences that brands are going to be taking advantage of.

The survey probed respondents (not in an alien way) further on what they meant by an increased social media presence; and the results showed that they were placing a lot more emphasis in their social marketing on networks other than the big three.

These results may not seem particularly skewed at first; but when you consider that currently only 15% of respondents are using Tumblr and a further 10% are considering using the network in 2012 (that’s a growth of around 66%); that is a massive growth of the network! The same kinds of growth numbers are evident in forums, blogs, and YouTube.

So where does this leave the smaller advertiser or brand?
These niche sites are ideal for smaller brands and advertisers to take advantage of. Not only is it possible to build a very loyal following around these specific sites; but the costs associated with doing so are incredibly small.

Most of the more experienced respondents indicated that they would be using blogs far more in 2012 than they have been. The reason for this is that blogs (especially ones that you own) are loaded with useful content which your audience is looking for (hopefully) and that search engines are going to crawl and index. This content needs to be useful to your audience in fulfilling a requirement that they have and, most importantly, it must not come across as being contrived, like a thinly veiled sales pitch.

Today’s consumers (especially those online) are far more savvy and aware of marketing tricks. Smaller networks which have not yet been bastardised by large advertisers are untainted with the legacy of big brand advertising and therefore need smaller brands and advertisers to venture there with integrity.

Provide your audience with quality that is more about them than it is about you and your brand will succeed in building a large following that will continue to be loyal even when the platform is overrun with large, big budget brands.

Image: phanlinn

Author | Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan is passionate about digital strategy and the convergence of technology and marketing. As the General Manager for HKLM; a strategic brand and communications agency; Jonathan's work includes strategy creation, aligning brand strategy; customer and technology to fulfil an organisation-wide brand-led objective. In 2013 Jonathan’s first book “Internet Marketing... More


  1. Ian

    February 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Please fix this site for Opera users (web browser, not mobile).

  2. Niglon

    February 3, 2012 at 2:17 am

    The whole thing that I do like of social media websites is how friendly they are for businesses both small and big to speak among one another.

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