HOME TECH TRENDS ONLINE SAFETY SOCIAL NETWORKING APP COLLECTIONS HOW-TO THE ONLINE MOM BLOG ARCHIVE EN ESPAÑOL
Technology A-Z
 
The Internet
 
Tech Hardware
 
Tech Software
 
Video Games
 
Protecting Your Children
 
FAQs
 
Getting Help
 
The Online Mom Network
 


Learn about The Online Mom Network
Join The Online Mom Network
How Do I Become An Online Mom?


The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Isn’t It Time You Joined a Social Network? Part I

In the Social Networking World, Niche is Nice

By Barry Myers

Social networks are hot! According to a recent study from comScore MediaMetrix, the two giants of social networking, Facebook and MySpace, attracted a combined 249 million unique visitors in June of this year alone!

But aren’t these online networks just for kids? What if making yourself visible to millions of people you don’t know isn’t your thing? What if all you really want to do is get passionate about your favorite hobby? Does this mean that there’s no place online for you? Absolutely not!
:::
Welcome to the world of niche social networking.

So-called niche or micro social networks are flourishing. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that, like MBA programs and spouses, there’s a niche social network out there for everyone! So let’s take a closer look and see if we can find one that’s right for you.

Exactly what is a social network?
Thanks to the wonders of the latest online applications, there’s hardly a web site out there that won’t allow you to interact with their content in exchange for a minimum amount of personal information – usually your e-mail address. Once you are signed-in to most news and general information web sites, you can comment on articles, post reviews, or participate in online forums.  However, this doesn’t make the site a social network.

Social networks differ from other sites in the amount of information they ask you to provide, the number of ways you can provide it, and your ability to interact not only with the site itself but with other members of the social network.

To help you create a profile and get started, you are usually encouraged to upload photos or videos, create a blog, establish connections (i.e. make “friends”), and chat directly with other members.

There really are no clear lines that indicate when a website officially becomes a social network. BlogHer, a hugely popular community of women bloggers, is generally not considered a social network yet, whereas LiveJournal one of the Web’s oldest blogging platforms is.

Niche social networks v. general interest social networks

Though the Facebook community is definitely getting older, these types of general interest social networks can still feel like the virtual version of a high school party thrown while the parents are out of town!

By contrast, niche social networks tend to be less concerned with meeting new people or creating a cool virtual identity for all the world to see and are more concerned with things like relevant content and member privacy.

Niche social networks are built around a shared interest, trait or objective. They tend to be significantly smaller and offer benefits to their slightly older members that the major general interest social networks do not.

Members are there to connect with others who already share something in common. Whether it’s a shared passion for movies in the case of Flixster, a desire to reconnect with old friends in the case of Reunion.com, or a common demographic or ethnicity in the case of Eons for baby boomers or BlackPlanet for African-Americans.

When you actually think about it, niche social networks in the form of dating websites like Match and eHarmony and career websites like Monster and CareerBuilder actually pre-date general interest networks.

Keep in mind, however, that niche social networks are not defined by their size, but rather by the shared passions and objectives of their members. Thus, even enormous sites like YouTube and Flickr are properly classified as niche social networks because the sites have very focused objectives – video-sharing and photo-sharing respectively.

Also, all social networks are not created equal. This is especially true for niche social networks, which run the gamut from well-financed start-ups to just a hobby for tech-savvy individuals. Most will be free, but some may not be. One, Yuwie, is actually offering to pay you!

What’s behind the growth?

One reason the number of niche social networks is increasing so quickly is because advertisers love them. They deliver a community that shares a common passion, so that advertisers offering matching products and services are virtually guaranteed to reach their target audience.

Imagine, for example, that you are a marketing executive at Purina. Wouldn’t you rather advertise online to a community of pet lovers on Fuzzter rather than take your chances with a site like Facebook?

Taken to the extreme, we are now seeing companies like Reebok (GoRunEasy), Pepsi (Youniverse), Martha Stewart (MarthaStewart.com) and, the ubiquitous Starbucks (MyStarbucksIdea) launching their very own niche social networks to foster brand loyalty and customer involvement.

How do I find a social network that’s right for me?

O.K – so now you’re excited! You’re thinking: “Wow, what a great way to meet other people that are passionate about glass blowing!”…or something like that.

A good place to start is FindASocialNetwork and search for your preferred topic by name. If you still don’t find what you’re looking for, visit Ning. Ning is a do-it-yourself networking site that lets anyone create a social network about anything. The site features easy-to-use templates and drag-and-drop modules to help you create your site. You can also search by keyword for social networks previously created by others – including several for those with a passion for glass blowing!

In my next article, I’ll take an in-depth look at some of the more popular categories and niche web sites.  I’ll describe their functions and weigh the pros and cons of one versus another. Hopefully, you will soon become a happy member of one or more of the many fascinating and flourishing online communities!

Barry Myers has been helping consumer technology brands communicate with consumers for over 12 years. Most recently he was a co-founder of DigitalLife, the country’s biggest consumer-facing technology conference and exposition. He’s currently hard at a work on his own niche social network. Barry lives in Manhattan with his wife, two-year old son, and twin cats Al and G.



Comments:
Comment by Theresa, posted 2/2/2009, 4:01 PM:

Very informative. Thank you.
Thank you for submitting your comment. Your comment will appear on the site after it has been reviewed by site moderators!
Post a Comment:
Name:
Email:
Comments (max 500 characters):

Permalink | Print | Email

Share this article!
Partner with Online Mom Media
Online Mom Media specializes in building powerful communities of influencers! [read on]
Special Twitter Event
Join @theonlinemom this Thursday at 9pm ET as we introduce Thrively, a fun and interactive family web site! #Thrively
[read on]
Join the BUZZ!
Join @theonlinemom and friends this Friday at 12 noon PT as we look at Simplifying Mobile Tech. Great prizes! #VZWBuzz [read on]
The Online Mom Blog
Connecting Your Mobile Lifestyle
[read on]
Cómo encontrar en línea las mejores ofertas
Visite La Online Mom en Español! [read on]
Stacey Ross on The Online Mom
Catch up on the digital lifestyle with Stacey Ross!
[read on]
PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One: Parental Controls
Which of the new gaming consoles offers better parental supervision? [read on]
How To Make the Most of Those Daily Deals
Take a closer look at those daily deals to make sure you're getting a bargain!
[read on]
Watch Out! Your Wristband Is Tracking You…
New ways to monitor two of the most important elements that factor into our overall health: exercise and sleep [read on]
How To Beat Spam with Disposable E-Mail Addresses
There's an alternative to giving out your online information (or turning into a digital recluse): the disposable e-mail!
[read on]
Managing Your Online Reputation
There are some simple steps we can take to safeguard our online reputations [read on]
7 Apps for Finding Stuff Online
Loking to buy and sell online? Your smartphone can help!
[read on]
How to Manage Your Cell Phone Bill
Don't be overwhelmed by that cell phone bill. We offer 7 tips that can help [read on]
7 Social Networking Tips for Graduates
About to graduate? It's time to clean up those social networking accounts!
[read on]
The Best Apps for Staying in Shape
10 great apps for turning your smartphone or tablet into your workout buddy! [read on]
7 Steps to Smartphone Safety
Buying that first smartphone for your child? Make safety a top priority!
[read on]
10 Essential Apps for the Busy Mom
Turn your smartphone into your very own personal assistant! [read on]
Tweens and Facebook:
Do you think children under the age of 13 should be allowed on Facebook?

Yes
No
Not Sure




© 2011 the online mom, all rights reserved | site map ABOUT     MEET THE TEAM     CONTACT US     ADVERTISE     PRESS     PRIVACY     LEGAL
As you may have guessed, it is made of titanium and some stainless steel¡ªthe case is titanium and the rolex replica sale is stainless steel. The dial is brown, the watch hands are silver-toned, and there is a date window at the four o¡¯clock position. The sapphire case protects the breitling replica sale from water damage up to 30 meters. Synergy means cooperative action. This replica watches uk combines the best of the old and the new to deliver something uniquely modern. All of the classic elements are there. It has the sleek and stylish dial of the replica watches uk, the concave dot at the 12 o¡¯clock hour, and the Swiss quartz movement. But the Sapphire Synergy has something few breitling replica sale offer, a rubber wristband. Why rubber? Well, it¡¯s not a sport rolex replica sale, so using it outdoors is out of the question. But the informal band gives it a more casual look and feel, which can be quite appealing to the modern male.