As the internet becomes more generic, (*ahem* Facebook), people are going to start searching for networks where they can connect with a specific audience who is very much like them. Luckily there is a niche for everyone. Whether you are way into knitting, crocodiles, or space, there's a network out there filled with people just like you.
The idea of a niche site isn't new. In fact, forums, blogs, Listservs, message boards, and even Google groups have paved the way for larger sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and have been bringing people with shared interests together for years.
For a marketer, this provides an interesting opportunity to connect with a highly targeted audience. While Facebook does have billions of users, if you have a very unique product, it may not be the best network for you. You might be better off connecting to a highly targeted audience of 300, rather than a fragmented audience of, say, 1 million.
Your conversion rates will be higher, the more targeted your audience is. Furthermore, with all the other static and noise in these large networks, your message might get lost. It's not always about the amount of people on a specific site. It really comes down to the amount of targeted individuals a specific site has.
I say this often and it's important. Spend time where your users hang out. And that just might be a niche social site.
Care2 - The idea behind this site is to "make it easy for everyone to live a healthy, green lifestyle and impact the causes they care about most." The site receives around 8.2 million unique monthly visitors per month and has over 16 million members. It is also the #1 site for petitions (www.thepetitionsite.com), generating 24 million signatures in the past 12 months alone.
Dogster - The social network for the dog lover. With over 121,000 Facebook fans, this network has a clear and targeted audience. With community areas that let you create a profile for your pet, this could be a great place for anyone who wants to sell to dog lovers.
Catster - Like Dogster, this network takes cat loving to the next level. With a Q&A section, you can let your expertise really shine here.
My Last Wish - This application connects people who are living with a similar dream. According to its app page on iTunes, My Last Wish is a social networking application that connects users with those unknown people from corners of the world with different ethnicities, cultures, traditions, value systems, life styles and much more. The only connecting factor—the one thing they have in common—is the "Last Wish."
Wiser - With a network of over 70,000, this site describes itself as a global village for people who believe in a more sustainable world. For those in the sustainable industry, this could be a hit for you.
Untappd - A Foursquare-like application that allows you to discover the most popular local bars and beers. With a community of beer lovers, this could be great for the microbrewery or local pub trying to get more customers.
CafeMom - With a community of over 1 million moms, this is a great place for your word of mouth marketing campaign. Moms love to talk and Mommy Blogs are huge.
Book In A Week - Connecting writers and readers. This purpose of this site is to write and exchange support with other writers.
Athlinks - (http://athlinks.com/) - This site claims to be the world's largest results database for endurance athletes. With over 15,000 Facebook fans, this could be a site worth investigating if you're a fitness company.
Goodreads - Goodreads has been around for a long time and its goal is to connect readers. It's a great place to have a profile if you're an author or publisher.
Dribbble - This site is a show and tell for designers. It's a community of designers sharing screenshots of their work, their process, and their projects.
Letterboxd - A social network for the film buff. This site allows you keep a film diary, create and share lists and connect with other movie lovers.
Dpadd - A newer site who says, "DPADD is a social network and journal for gamers. Our goal is to become the best place for gamers to diary their gaming, manage their collection and keep tabs on all the games they want to play. DPADD is currently in a private, invite-only beta."
LineForHeaven - This religious social network helps answer the fundamental question, "Am I going to Heaven?" With features like Karma Points, and the ability to save your soul, this site's motto is "Religion can be fun!"
Lost Zombie - According to the site, "Lost Zombies is a zombie-themed social network whose goal is to create a community-generated zombie movie."
UFO Social - This site is for those interested in paranormal research. You can report paranormal sightings from your phone and share your sightings with those interested in this same type of activity.
Stachepassions - An online site connecting mustache lovers everywhere. It's also a dating site. Got a stache thing? This site is for you.
Vampire Freaks - Into the alternative side of things? This site could be a perfect fit for you. It's been brought to you by "FuckTheMainstream.com," which speaks for itself.
Fubar - With 9 million registered members, Fubar is like the world's largest online bar, where you can mix and mingle with people who have drinking in common.
Ravelry - An online network for knitters and crocheters, this site could be a great place for fashion designers who work with this medium.
REMcloud - This is a network where you can share your dreams openly or anonymously and connect with new people who have similar dream experiences.
Kaboodle - Geared specifically toward people who love to shop, Kaboodle offers tools that allow its users to better organize their shopping and find the best prices for the items they desire. Their main page even features "Hot Picks" and Recommended products based on your shopping trends.
Classmates - While not necessarily a new site, this niche connects the older generation of students and is essentially a virtual yearbook.
Flixster - Are you a movie buff? If so, Flixster is the largest social network around for movie lovers. Share ratings of your favorite or "recently watched movies," discuss film and discover new movies to add to your favorites list.
David Hasselhoff - Oh yes, a social network for fans of the Hoff! Enough said.
BirdPost - This is a community for bird watchers and bird lovers everywhere. It features neat satellite maps and "rare bird alerts" for those avid bird watchers that take this pastime seriously.
DisFriends - As an 18+ network where Disney fans can meet and connect, DisFriends allows its users to talk about their favorite Disney experiences, attractions, movies, and events.
Library Thing - Like Goodreads, this is a network of 1.6 million book lovers. It's a great place for writers, authors, publishers and agents to come and discuss a thing or two about the thing they love most—books!
Quora - Quora is the premier Q&A site. It's a great place to brand yourself as an expert and build a following around your knowledge of any given subject.
Meetup - Meetup is a social network that connects people in real life. There are groups that meet in thousands of cities on just about every topic. FUN FACT: I met my husband Jason through Meetup.
Gentlemint - The Pinterest for Men, Gentlemint is a place to find and share "manly" things. Instead of pictures of babies, food, and crafts, you're more likely to get pictures of guns and cars.
ThirdAge - A Social network connecting baby boomers and seniors. This is actually a very fast growing market on the Internet with tips and tricks, advice and news exclusives keyed to their user populations needs.
Last.fm - Last.fm is a service that recommends and suggests music keyed to your tastes, what you're listening to and what your friends are listening to. If you're looking for some new tunes, create a profile and get started.
Nextdoor - This private social network is for members of your neighborhood, allowing its users to keep up with one another or to introduce themselves to the newbies on the block.
Snooth - Drinking alone? You won't have to with this wine lover's social network. This community is the wine lover's dream, providing you with the latest and greatest for up-to-the-minute wine news and selections.
Behance - This is a worldwide social network for creative and visual artists such as graphic designers, photographers, interaction designers, art directors and illustrators.
BikerOrNot - This is the social network for biker and motorcycle enthusiasts. It's a fun place to meet others who are passionate about the same things you are—awesome bikes!
Madwhips - Get active on this site if storing, organizing and showcasing car photos is your thing. There's even a discussion forum to go along with the galleries and albums full of modern, classic, foreign, and muscle cars.
BurdaStyle - The sewing enthusiast should look to BurdaStyle, as it is the social network for those who sew and for the fashion minded.
Curbly - DIY lovers unite on this social network. If you're active on Pinterest, you know the excitement of DIY projects. Curbly takes that to the next level.
Instructables - A network to share what you make, whether that's music, games, robots, or even something as random as concrete. No matter what it is you make and enjoy, share it on Instructables.
All Recipes - This very large recipe sharing network is a great place to pick up a recipe for anything your foodie heart desires. Need a recipe for "Grandma's Meatloaf"? Look no further than All Recipes.
BakeSpace - BakeSpace is a network connecting bakers. Here you can share recipes and even make your own cookbook.
Group Recipes - This is a social network for sharing recipes. Foodies and food experts should make use of Group Recipes, All Recipes and BakeSpace to maximize their networking.
MyReviewsNow - A social shopping network designed to help you make informed decisions before you purchase.
PatientsLikeMe - Connect with other patients out there, learning what they know about healthcare, treatments, health progress, research and more. Share what you know too.
WAYN - A travel site that asks the question "Where Are You Now?" This site is great for the travel expert with rampant wanderlust. Share photos, videos, and short blurbs about wherever it is in the world you are.
Boots 'N All - This is an indie travel network. Being that it is an indie network, it's lesser known, but its purpose is to "cultivate an organic community that encourages independent travel."
BlogHer - Women connect on this very large site, blogging about all aspects of life. But what is it that differentiates this blogging website from all others? The woman's touch.
Aniboom - The network for animators. This could do wonders for the animator looking to make strides in his business. Explore The Marketplace, job boards, potential clients and news updates.
LawLink - The social network for lawyers and the legal community. Sounds exciting! Proponents of the law can post questions and queries for one another, documents pertaining to recent cases, classifieds and there's even a link to this networks Twitter page.
Barista Exchange - A network for those in the coffee industry where users can discuss coffee culture, preferences and brewing machinery on the forum.
Artfire - This network connects artists to buyers and provides users with things like indie supplies and vintage product finders.
CraftersCommunity - This community for ultimate craft lovers and creators is another site that's great for Pinterest users since the two networks can meet and mesh. CraftersCommunity provides craft ideas and Learn How instructional posts.
Dailyburn - The network for exercise enthusiasts who want to sync their workouts to online portfolios where they can share their progress and track results.
SocialWorkout - SocialWorkout is the essence of social goal setting designed around working out and fitness, allowing its users to start group challenges and personal goals, too.
Stockpickr - Are you big on the market? Always doing whatever you can to keep track of stocks and trends? The social network for stock brokers is an excellent place to do this.
Meet Pips - This is the network for the Forex industry where members can access real-time sharing, journals, blogs and more. It is essentially the Forex trading world wrapped up in social networking.
Raptr - The social network for gamers. With over 17 million users, this site is very large and very active, not to mention great for building a well-known gaming persona and earning rewards in the meantime.
Inspire - The health community has lots to say and with Inspire, you can stay on top of it all, sharing some of your own or just taking all the updates and information in.
Ozmosis - The social network for doctors and health care professionals who wish to engage with other medical professionals and those with business hands in the medical community.
Supernatural Connections - This network is keyed to those interested in the world of the paranormal.
ParentsConnect - Sponsored by Nickelodeon, this network connects parents—whether they be soon-to-be-parents or seasoned child-raising veterans. This is a great community for parents from all walks of live to get involved in. Questions, tips, opinions and more are available here.
The Flipping Pad - The community for Real Estate professionals. If you're looking to start somewhere with your Real Estate, house-flipping education, look no further than the forums and network of Flipping Pad.
Survival Info - a new niche network for survivalists, bushcrafters and nature lovers.
The Consciousness Network is for people to discuss ‘consciousness’
Do you know of any other niche networks?
Stephanie Frasco, VP Social Media Marketing, started helping businesses get results with social networks before Twitter even existed! Stephanie has worked directly with high profile clients like Oprah, Atlantic Records, Dashlane, The International Culinary Center, & many more. She specializes in helping business owners and marketers find massive ROI by developing targeted social campaigns focused on *engagement strategies* that work!