Niche digital communities are brimming with opportunity. Are you there?

niche digital communities

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

One of the most important ways to understand and reach your customer is to appear wherever they hang out. That doesn’t just mean in real life—the savvy brand will be where their customers are digitally, too. Having your thumb on the pulse of your customers’ social networks is an advantage many brands will not anticipate.

But where do people hang out, besides on Instagram or Pinterest? The answer might surprise you. This is a short list of many of the digital communities marketers should have an eye on.

Video or gaming-based digital communities

TikTok: the most trendy service listed in this article, TikTok is blowing up. Originally founded as Musical.ly, a phone-based app for pre-teens to lip-sync to their favorite songs, the company became TikTok after being acquired by a similar Chinese app company. Now the content on TikTok ranges from lip-syncing to cosplay to stand up comedy to rap battles to–whatever you can think of putting in a video under one minute in length.

Adweek recently reported that ads have come to TikTok, and DigiDay even revealed their European ad sales deck. For marketers without a Fortune 500 ad spend, the obvious entrance to using TikTok as a platform is through hiring key influencers to promote your brand.

Second Life Many marketers might vaguely recall Second Life from their amazing 2003 launch. And why not? The real life-based simulation game offered escapism, a fantasy life, and social interaction. More surprising is that the platform has remained consistently active for the last fifteen years. While Second Life might not have the numbers it once boasted, estimates of their regular user base numbers range from 500,000-900,000 Lifers. Second Life users often also congregate on other social networks, including TinyChat. Second Life is another example of a platform where influencer marketing is key.

Twitch is a site to watch other people play video games. We’ve written about the marketing implications of Twitch‘s livestreaming format.

reddit is one of the Internet’s most dynamic forums, but a hard nut to crack for marketers. The community discusses many divergent topics in threads called subreddits, but they’re all united by a hatred of self-promotion. This {grow} article remains relevant on how to delve into reddit as a marketer without ticking off the locals.

Technology-based niche digital communities

Mastodon: hosting a Mastodon server is a way to create a Twitter-like experience limited to your own community. Usernames are limited to the server where they were created though interactions between servers can be allowed at the descretion of the host. Does it sound complicated? It is, at least more than using Twitter, but many people–reportedly 1.23 million accounts–have made the switch.

Telegram Telegram, a messaging tool that allows large groups to unite over phone or computer, is an interesting new tool for building communities around a unified topic. Telegram is popular among financial and cryptocurrency communities and language-learners. It could also be used to unite customers around a brand and listen to feedback.

bitcointalk is a series of text-based forums that have developed around cryptocurrencies. While the main topic is Bitcoin, the site also hosts discussions about altcoins. While I would not recommend direct promotion on this site, brands in this space should be carefully listening for mentions on bitcointalk as it remains un-indexed by Google.

Professional niche digital communities

Quora is a question and answer site that many marketers have used to position themselves as thought leaders. Marketers or brand executives can prove their expertise by answering questions in one of the many topics Quora features.

LinkedIn might seem like an obvious community for recruiting. However, with their commitment to organic surfacing of content, now most businesses should be looking into LinkedIn as a platform for disseminating information. LinkedIn is especially attempting to stand out as a video platform. So if you are already creating video content for your brand, don’t forget to share it on LinkedIn.

Other communities to consider

A few other communities that deserve a quick mention are Wattpad, the writing app; Goodreads, the reading review site owned by Amazon; Couchsurfing, the traveler’s best friend; DeviantArt, the site for misunderstood artists; and Meetup, the site for finding real-life congregations.

What other online communities are your customers a part of that weren’t mentioned in this article? Feel free to share your insights in the comments below, or find me on Twitter!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr does growth marketing for the automated API documentation tool Redoc.ly. Kiki enjoys absorbing the tech scene and current trends. You can contact her easily through Twitter.

 

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