Over the years, we have all seen the articles: Facebook Beats MySpace; Twitter Challenges Facebook; Will Google+ Take Over Social Media?–And so on. We are often left guessing which titan will fall, and when they do, who will be there to lay claim to the pieces.
However dominant Facebook may now seem, there appears to be a shift in the air: people are playing favorites. Not everyone logs into the same social network everyday. Some networks appear to be attracting certain demographics, turning many into ‘niche networks.’
For example, LinkedIn has positioned itself as the networking leader for business people, while Pinterest has really caught on with females, especially those who love crafting, cooking, decorating and family fun ideas. A jobseeker might log into LinkedIn first thing in the morning, eager to make new connections, while an avid Pinterest user might create a new board to pin ideas on while she enjoys her morning coffee.
New social networks that have cropped up recently are being described as new alternatives to the old standards: Pheed.com and App.net offer social media users a twist on the social network. Pheed.com allows those who create ‘channels’ either offer content for free or charge for it, which some believe might create more meaningful, worthwhile posts. App.net is a paid service that promises add-free content. We checked out Pheed recently, which seems to carry itself with an edgy, cool, ‘insiders’ feel, thanks to a soft launch that courted a number of celebs and musicians. While app.net has positioned itself as an alternative to Twitter, one for those who are serious about technology and seriously opposed to advertisements.
Rather than seeing one social network replace another, it’s more likely that these networks and any others created hereafter will succeed if they can find — and retain — certain niches (we can’t lay claim to the idea; they’re already being called ‘niche networks’ by many). The idea here being that certain formats and online venues naturally attract certain people. Someone who logs into Pheed to check out his favorite independent artist is most likely not spending the rest of his day pinning pins on Pinterest, and vice versa.
How can this help your business when it comes to social media? Know that it might not pay to be everywhere. Social media is free in the sense that many sites don’t charge a fee to use them, but time really is money. Posting on every site out there might not be worth your time or effort. Instead, know your audience and find your niche. Where are your customers hanging out? On Twitter? Then focus more on tweeting and developing a conversation with them. Are your products visually appealing and likely to be pinned & repinned? Then concentrate more on creating fabulous photographs that will make their way across boards on Pinterest. Are you an up-and-coming brand whose future clients are teens who love hip hop? Then it would be worth setting up a channel on Pheed. Social media can be time consuming. Most of us can’t be everything to everyone. It’s best to find where your audience is and be there too; connect with them where they’re opening and willing to take part in a conversation.