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Community software for niche businesses - It's time to get up to speed.

If your small business caters to a niche, you may be likely to assume that launching an online community or social network for your business is not the way to go. The tendency for a niche or small business is to seek out where your customers are ... and to sell more and market less. After all, when you have fewer highly relevant customers scattered among many others that are not so highly targeted, why try an market to all of them. Right?

Wrong.

In a short post by George Dearing on how General Mills reached its influencers, he highlights a great quote by David Witt:

"There’s a gravitational pull, online, toward niche. People congregate around similar interests and affinity. They do."

This quote highlights that online community software and social networking software are fantastic platforms for reaching out to niche audiences. Rather than having to seek out your niche customers, your community would have a tendency to seek out others with similar interests. So much, that online communities have re-defined just how specific an audience you can gather and communicate with at a single location.

On larger social networks like Facebook you can find tons of people who love PEZ candy and the innovative dispensers they produce ... you can find over 15,000 people that are fans of Marvel Comics Green Lantern, a few hundred regular Wedding Crashers ... and at least a hundred professional Treasure Hunters.

People in general have a tendency to connect with people who have similar interests ... especially if they are provided a good online platform to get together and discuss. And, they are likely to invite others with the same interests.

This can be a good foundation for building an online community -- and at least, to build some amount of content around the topic to create a critical mass of members (which need not be too many).

People search for and seek out others with similar interests, and online communities draw them together. Niche communities and social networks are magnetic in their ability to draw like minded members, and they are much more efficient then having to seek them out on your own.

For the hundreds of thousands of niche businesses around the world, social networking software and community software can be a blessing. Whether your customers or potential customers are into a specific biotech product, plus sized wedding gowns, or tackle boxes for ice fishing, establishing an online community and offering your customers a place to discuss and communicate online can be a very cost effective marketing strategy. If your customers come looking for you, rather than you having to find them, you're on the right track!

What is your niche business?  Is there an established online community in your space?  

Maybe it's time for you to create one.

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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