In April of 2017, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a new social media app, called Infield Chatter. The new social networking app has been described as "Twitter, but for baseball" or "Instagram if you followed only baseball accounts".
Today, there are six major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Other contenders for the list include Snapchat and YouTube. All of these platforms have one thing in common: you can discuss almost any topic on them; with the exception of LinkedIn which tries to maintain a culture of professional and business-related posts only. Therefore, people get together and form their own cliques or niches.
But why are even more specialized sites popping up, and what's there for marketers to tap into? We'll cover that in today's blog:
On the sites mentioned before, people who share the same interests can get connected. You’ll find sports fans on every platform, but it was hard to find a sports-only social media platform.
The MLB changed all of that. (It is worth noting that the app appears to be no longer available as of 2022).
The purpose of Infield Chatter was to have a place where MLB players can talk to and connect with their fans. Although it’s true that they can do this on other social platforms, this one is strictly for baseball fans. That means this place can be a safe haven, especially for people who only get on social media to talk baseball.
One of the things that the app is unique for is no trolling. The app creators have a team in place of real people who actually browse the site and respond to reports. It’s not automated like it is on Facebook, or ignored like it is on Twitter. Perhaps they took a leaf out of the IMDB playbook, which shut down their famous message boards in 2017 — due to excessive trolling and lack of effective moderators. The MLB cares about the welfare of its players and the fans, in the sense that it won’t tolerate such behavior. If you’re caught being a troll, your account will be suspended.
That means you can’t run around saying derogatory things about any team, player, stadium, coach, staff member, or anything or anyone related to the MLB. Be respectful to other people on the app, or leave.
Why Are Niche Social Media Sites Important For Marketers?
Even though the MLB app appears to be inactive now, its initial release speaks to the wide world of niche social media platforms. This is an important landscape for marketers to understand because reaching these audiences could be crucial for cultivating customer loyalty and building brand equity.
Today, newcomers to the social media space aren't trying to be the new Facebook. Instead, they're changing the game by providing something that can be much more useful and relevant, as both a consumer and as a marketer. This may mean a smaller overall userbase, but arguably one that is far more engaged on a regular basis.
Niche social media platforms provide a space for an online community to engage with like-minded users about a specific topic or industry. Here's why you need to be paying attention:
The beauty of social media is its ability to connect people — regardless of geographic location, background or even language. What niche social platforms do is make that connection even stronger — by connecting users with others who are as interested in, or as passionate about a particular subject, as they are. This creates a tight-knit community of users who are more likely to engage in conversation and recommend it to friends or colleagues with the same interest in that subject.
Of course, there is a dark side to this type of connection.
This kind of insular approach is exactly why platforms like Donald Trump's "Truth Social" can thrive. It creates an amplified version of the "echo chamber" phenomenon that has led to established social media sites like Facebook and Twitter coming under fire in recent years.
For the most part though, this trend has a lot of positives, and for marketer's it provides great opportunities to connect with an already targeted, highly-attentive, niche audience. While Facebook has millions of active users, if you have a unique product, this may not be the best channel for you. Kevin Kelly’s “You only need 1 000 true fans” theory is proving to be accurate – if you can really connect with and impact fewer people, there’s no need to spend unnecessary effort and money on a fragmented audience of millions.
Social networks with a huge number of users naturally have a huge amount of data, and a lot going on at any given moment. This results in what marketers like to call “noise,” which is a challenge to cut through and to be heard over. The upside is that Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups were created for this purpose — to connect a niche group of people — we’re all part of at least one of these social groups.
But when it comes to brand marketing on these social media giants, you run the risk of annoying even the most perfect prospective client, purely because they may not be in the mood. Users log in to Facebook for several reasons; to stalk a crush, to chat, to upload their holiday album, to RSVP to an event. Users log in to niche social media platforms for one reason: to find out more, and engage with others, about a specific topic.
The more focused and targeted your audience is, the more likely your chances of converting them.
Top Niche Social Media Platforms Today
Check out these niche social media sites for marketing inspiration and to keep up with what's happening in the world of social media today.
A great platform to look into if you’re in the fitness industry, Athlinks is an app that stores all of your race times. Runners, cyclists, swimmers join a community of other athletes where results can be seen, shared and “cheered for,” users can set new goals and challenge friends.
The “show and tell for designers” allows illustrators, web and graphic designers, typographers and other kinds of creatives showcase their work, process and projects. The community show their designs, inspire and get inspired, ask questions and, most importantly, get hired. It’s the place to be if you’re in the design field.
Gaming is one of the most popular industries in the world. On Dpadd, gamers can get together, keep a gaming journal, a “to-play” list, follow friends and industry professionals, and more.
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.
5. 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.
More on the fun side of life, Stachepassions is a site for the moustache-lovers of the world. It’s also a dating site. Got a ‘stache thing? This site is for you.
Inching its way into the mainstream, Discord is still a fringe social media platform that marketers are just beginning to utilize. The app allows users to create "servers" with various themed chat rooms. It's a fantastic way to meet new people and be part of a community.
If you’re looking to increase audience engagement, position yourself as an expert, take your social media presence up a notch and improve your conversion rates and sales, then niche social media platforms may be for you. If you’re a large corporation, consider creating your own (like Tumblr has done). Otherwise jump on some of the existing platforms that are industry-specific.
For more information on all things social – contact the Meltwater team today or fill out the form below to request a demo of our social listening and management tools.