Marketing via Niche Networks and Online Influencers

Throughout this book, I discuss social influence marketing on the major social platforms: what you can do on the paid side of the equation as well as on the unpaid or earned media end. Still, much more social activity is happening online beyond Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter that needs to be accounted for. Industry insiders believe that in the coming years, greater fragmentation will happen as usergenerated content flows more seamlessly between the major social platforms and the rest of the Internet.

Exploring the Niche Social Networks

So what are these niche social platforms that I’m talking about? outlines the top 20 social networking platforms as of February 2009 from comScore, a marketing research company. Keep in mind that although this categorization uses the term social networks very loosely, it still excludes user-generated content (UGC) video sites such as YouTube and community platforms like Ning

Finding the Right Social Platforms

If I were to start a new business, it would probably be a business that, through some magic formula, would tell marketers which social platforms their specific customers are spending most of their time in a given month, with guidance on how to reach them. I would probably make a fortune for the simple reason that it’s hard to find these customers beyond the major social platforms.

It’s easy to learn the paid and unpaid marketing solutions on the second rung social platforms. (They’re listed What about the rest? How do you as a marketer beginning to apply social influence marketing know where your customers are spending their time? Making your job even harder is the fact that you can’t just focus on the social networks: You need to look more broadly at the video Web sites, the mainstream media Web sites, the blogger networks, and social media publishing tools that are all beginning to incorporate social functionality

Understand your customers

To discover where your customers are spending their time online, you need to begin by understanding them better. Depending upon their socio-technographics (which means how your customers engage on the social platforms), they might be spending a lot of time on the major social platforms or very little. The first step in understanding them is to determine their participation levels in the social Web.

The freely available Forrester Social Technographics Tool allows you to profile your customers’ social computing behavior. All you have to do is select the age range, country, and gender of the people you want to research. The tool then returns an analysis of your customers, dividing them up into creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactives. The tool currently includes only 11 countries, but that number is sure to increase over time

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