Niche communities

Why a niche social network could be right for your next brand campaign

More and more, we’re hearing from brands that want to engage with specific communities outside of the ‘traditional’ social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). From Reddit and Discord, to communities such as Houzz, Goodwall and even – for some – OnlyFans, brands are exploring the possibilities of diversifying their social media campaigns into more special interest social communities. 

In this post, we’re taking a look at if and when a more targeted approach to social media might be in your brand’s interest. 

Know why your brand wants to be there

Most consumer-facing brands will have a presence on the big networks. But many are starting to get creative, enhancing their campaigns with smaller or more targeted sites. 

Whether you’re taking the first step into Reddit, Discord, or a more niche community, start by knowing what your brand wants to get from the community. What is its purpose, and what can you contribute to the community…in an authentic way that provides actual value to the members.

That means really understanding in depth what that community is all about, what makes it tick. Why do people sign up? What makes them stick around (and importantly, what might make them leave)?

Houzz, for example, is a home design, decorating and renovations site used by industry professionals and homeowners. It had significant growth in 2020 as families looked to expand their homes and land to accommodate changes like working from home. It could be a great opportunity if you’re a paint brand, or a soft furnishings store, for example, reaching people as they’re ready to redesign their homes. A little effort could go a long way to creating real connections with the community on a specialist site like this. 

Ask how your brand can enhance the community

Brands can make or break a community. It’s important to understand how your brand will enhance someone’s experience of the community, rather than detract from it. If you can’t think of a way, then perhaps the community isn’t right for your brand. 

Sometimes that can come from surprising places. A great example of this is the campaign by chili sauce brand, Fly by Jing, on OnlyFans. Now OnlyFans wouldn’t be most brand’s first choice – it is known primarily for explicit content after all – but as of April 2021, OnlyFans had 120 million members, and its users spent $2.4 billion on the site in 2020 alone. Fly by Jing joined the community by launching a campaign to support sex workers’ rights, something which resonated with the Only Fans community. For each free subscriber the brand got, it said it would donate $1 to “grassroots organizations supporting sex worker rights”.

More in the mainstream is Discord which some describe as Slack for gamers. As of December 2020, it had 140 million users. The restaurant chain, Chipotle, used Discord to host the site’s first-ever virtual career fair and received more than 23,000 applications.

Reddit has, in the past, been a community avoided by many big brands, but that’s changing now. As we talked about in our blog post Should your brand be using Reddit, the site is now actively courting advertisers, and creating long-term partnerships with organizations like the NFL. 

Think ‘community first’ 

Goodwall is a kind of LinkedIn for students and has around 1.7 million members (as of August 2021). It has a strong community focused on learning, development and careers, and it’s a great place to be if you want to reach younger people. And particularly if your brand can contribute to helping young people reach their potential. Many corporations are turning to Goodwall to support their recruitment efforts, for example; and training brands such as Pearsons work with the network to help young people improve their education and contribute to the job market. 

These are, of course, just some examples of niche or more fringe communities where brands can add value to and win the loyalty of the community.

As the social media market evolves and matures, more and more specialist sites, communities and networks will develop offerings for brands. They could be a  great place to create meaningful connections for brands with specific goals from a specific audience. 

So perhaps, when you’re thinking about your next brand campaign, you should consider looking beyond the big networks and expand your campaigns into more niche communities. With hyper-relevant content, the right strategy, and a community-first approach, your campaign could pay real dividends for your brand.

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