Last year, the number of people who used social media passed the 3.8 billion mark. TikTok took the social media world by storm with virtual crowds of new users signing up and time spent on the platform growing significantly. The way people interacted with social media became more involved, as video and Instagram story usage increased, helping people share their day-to-day moments.
But while social media use is growing, user habits are changing. Facebook usage is down, as well as users and overall time spent on Instagram. But social media's marketing influence isn't going anywhere. According to eMarketer, over 55 percent of all Gen Z internet users in the U.S say their recent fashion purchases were inspired by social media content. Its e-commerce and community-building potential still has immense power. Amidst the virtual crowds, companies have the same goal: find your target demographic; communicate with them; convert a consumer to a customer. But this is shifting from broad-based to niche platforms.
So how are companies equipped to adjust? What new strategies need to take place in a digital world that's just as saturated with users, messages, products and noise?
Many people are taking a break from larger platforms like Facebook and Instagram because of the increased amount of negativity across these major platforms. Brands that stick to traditional platforms like Facebook can spend thousands of dollars in advertising and miss being seen by their target audience. And there is always the risk of marketing campaigns simply getting lost in the mess of these broad-scale platforms that are rife with users and companies competing for attention.
People are shifting from broad social platforms to niche networks where they can connect with specific, like-minded audiences. This reduces the noise and allows users to see the kind of content they want to interact with. Niche platforms present a significant opportunity for brands to create a community and sell their products to people who are genuinely interested.
For example, entertainment industry production essentially halted in March of last year, leaving content creators without work or pay. One niche platform helped cull the stall by offering a place for creation to continue-- Stage 32, a social media network for the entertainment industry. This platform connects executives and creatives at every level to bring competitive content to big-box producers and streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.
And as the entertainment industry dealt with shutdowns, another niche platform came to prominence for an industry that became overwhelmed with work, Figure 1. This platform connects medical professionals from around the world, letting them learn from one another while being HIPPA compliant.
By seeking out niche platforms that consolidate users in a similar field or with a similar interest, marketers and advertisers can easily target their key audience. Marketing to users who are already inclined to want your product or service seems easy, but there is more to it. The users on a niche platform that aligns with your company are likely more knowledgeable about the products or services in their industry. In some cases, they might be experts. A simple sales pitch or marketing campaign isn't going to cut it.
Marketing to someone who has a lot of knowledge about your industry or product requires education. This is a two-way street. Marketers can learn a lot about how to bring their message to audiences by listening to their audience's concerns. Discussion forums on industry, hobby or interest-specific platforms create easy market research gold mines.
On the other hand, you need to bring something to the conversation. To engage a knowledgeable audience, you need to bring the knowledge. It isn't enough to make niche consumers aware of your product, they need to know what makes it different, better, and specific to their needs. You are no longer marketing the item or service as a concept, instead your message has to pinpoint the details.
The future of marketing is clear. In a world overwhelmed with digital messaging, brands must find their focus and craft something specific to their audience. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, find where you excel and craft opportunities for your audience to connect.