Recently, I was asked the following question: "What advice would you give to a new niche social network or is the market too saturated?" I thought I'd share with you my answer.
- Focus on your audience then your brand. Who is your target and what is currently missing in the marketplace that you can provide? Your goal is to be relevant yet unique. For instance, LinkedIN is a great business networking tool, but Focus is a great social network specifically for b2b business people. In this case, niche networks like Focus allow like-minded people to have more meaningful conversations with each other because it's more specific to their interest. Once you've identified the needs of your audience, you can build a powerful brand that speaks directly to them.
- Focus on content. Once you get to know your audience, you should focus on the types of things they want to see and how they like to receive and engage with content. Do they like a mix of media like video, ratings, or editorial? Do they need to hear from experts on occasion or will your network thrive on community recommendation. If so, how will you facilitate it.These are questions you'll have to answer in order to build your community but the key here is to get into the minds of your customers so you can deliver what they really want.
- Focus on engagement, not on being the next Facebook or Google+. While Facebook and Google are huge, they mainly have a broad based application. Therefore, niche networks can provide tremendous value if you focus on building engagement levels rather than growing your database to match that of the big guys. If people are excited about your brand, your database will grow organically. In the end, it's better to have a smaller, highly engaged network than a huge group of people who aren't really paying attention.
In sum, there is plenty of room for niche social networks. However,remember that you're competing for attention so the more specific it is (and not like the others), the greater adoption you will have.