Is it time to add niche networks to your marketing strategy?

Is it time to add niche networks to your marketing strategy?

niche networksAccording to conventional wisdom, Twitter is dead, LinkedIn is the place for B2B marketing, and the rest is just filler. As discovered in our recent post, “Finding the Right B2B Social Network For Your Business,” things aren’t always as simple as they appear. A small and highly engaged audience can turn out to be significantly more profitable than one that is large yet indifferent. It might be time to consider throwing niche networks into your marketing mix.

It’s not only about size, nor is it just about engagement. It’s the combination of the two that brings the greatest reward. While a high degree of attention is focused on the major social networks, a 2015 survey by Pew Research Center revealed that Internet users are moving away from big social networks, and towards simpler and more refined mobile based apps. This may well signal the beginning of fragmentation in the social media landscape.

Marketers using social media platforms have a tough time. It’s hard to know whether a new platform is going to break out into the mainstream or disappear into oblivion, taking with it all that effort spent gaining traction on the channel. Then there are the constant algorithm changes and the significant impact they cause.

Social media success is often fleeting. As a network matures, organic reach significantly drops until the only choice left is paying to play. This is no accident, but rather an event created through design. Social networks are for-profit corporations that, once they have a sufficient audience, naturally want to start seeing a profit.

The reality is that all good things come to an end, so you need to continually test and refine your marketing approach. One strategy worth exploring is incorporating niche networks into your overall marketing program.

There are two things you need to consider for this technique to work. First, you’ll need to create a process to research and identify promising social media platforms, test them and scale your activities should initial results prove favorable.

Second, you’ll want to have some form of risk management in place. You don’t want to spend a major portion of your marketing resources on one platform only to see it die an agonizing death. You want to keep testing different niche networks until you find one that works and then double down on the winner. Eventually, the channel will become saturated, and you’ll have to repeat the process yet again.

This is a simple strategy, yet very challenging to execute. You are faced with constant algorithm changes and the learning demands of new and evolving platforms. In this environment, a T-shaped skill set and the ability to adapt quickly to change will be highly valued assets.

It will definitely require a high level of commitment. But your social media niche marketing process will give you a substantial competitive advantage. While others lament over declining organic reach or desperately seek salvation on another popular platform, you’ll be executing your find, test, and scale strategy. Just rinse and repeat.

Nevertheless, there remains a serious drawback with social media marketing on any platform. Your audience doesn’t belong to you. In fact, you’re renting it. You’re playing in someone else’s ballpark. It’s their game and their rules. One day you could find yourself shut out with no recourse available. It’s a risk every social media marketer takes, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

However, there is another possibility: create your own audience on your own platform. A few years ago, the idea wouldn’t be feasible due to overwhelming challenges both from a marketing and technical perspective. Now companies like Mightybell have made this both extremely economical and scaleable.

These software as a service (SaaS) companies offer marketers their own personal social media platform. As a result, marketers don’t require a development team to build out or maintain the platform. It’s scaleable for an infinite number of users, and you can get started for free, making it easier to test whether this will work in your particular situation. In Mightybell’s case, viral marketing features are baked right into the app, helping to grow your network.

Small yet highly engaged social networks can turn out to be a goldmine for marketers. Having a process in place to discover and scale those niche networks that show promise makes this strategy realistic. An attractive alternative is creating your own social media platform where you can call the shots. With the advent of SaaS, this is now achievable on a broad scale.

Stephen Jeske is a growth marketer, entrepreneur and editor of Growth Hacking Digest. You can connect with him on Twitter @stephenjeske.