I have been reflecting on my reasons for beginning my new website www.marketinglowdown.com recently. As I explained in my first post about this new site, I felt it was an untouched niche. It has had me thinking lately though about the future of online communities and social networks, will the ‘everything and everywhere’ format of Facebook and Twitter continue to be popular or will people, sick of irrelevant ads and information, look to niche communities instead?
Bebo was the first social network I registered on, back in 2005 I think it was, when I was still living in the UK. It’s still alive and used by people in the UK but unfortunately is nowhere near as popular as it used to be. Then there was MySpace, which I honestly never had much of an interest in, and as quick as it grew it also fell, when Facebook became a public social network. Of course now there is also Twitter. I know there are many more out there too, but for me this is what I have used. I currently use both Facebook and Twitter but with other social networking sites popping up daily and many in niche markets, what does the world of social networking look like in the future?
For me personally I would love a balance. Social networking sites like Facebook are great as a hub, meeting people from around the world, catching up, no real commonalities needed. I see niche communities exploding in the near future though, as sites like Facebook become cluttered with advertising and what a school friend had for dinner. The advantages of niche communities mean advertising is more relevant and therefore there is also a benefit to advertisers. The people you connect with are there because they have a similar passion for a topic or cause.
I don’t think Facebook will lose out to niche communities though because if you were to join a community for every interest you have it may become extremely time consuming, whereas the user will decide what is acceptable or relevant to be shared with everyone and what would only be interesting to people interested in the niche topic or cause. I think because of this they will co-exist. If you look at universities you see the large array of societies, websites online supporting new mothers are becoming highly successful and as the younger generations log on younger and younger surely it is only a matter of time before everyone is online in their own niche communities, talking about what they want with people who want to listen.
For me, interested in community management and social media I have joined a few niche community forums and networking sites, which are small at the moment but are growing quickly. How about you? Do you think niche communities will be the future? What niche communities are you a part of or would like to see?