Last week we talked about five niche social networks, and how you can utilise them within your own social media strategy. But those aren’t the only social channels with untapped marketing potential. Here’s four more niche social media networks which can provide value to your business.

Instagram

What is it?: Instagram is a mobile photo and video sharing app, which (along with Snapchat) has given rise to the modern phenomenon of the ‘selfie’. Think of it as the modern equivalent of taking Polaroids; but with the added bonus of being able to share your pictures with millions of people around the world.

Users can take photos and 15 second videos (or upload standalone image files) and apply filters and effects in-app, as well as adding hashtags to help increase the visibility of their images. As you might expect, you can also follow other users and leave likes and comments on their content.

Who uses it?: Instagram attracts young, engaged yet impulsive users, with a fairly even proportion of males and females. They especially love taking pictures of their food, their fashion style, their travel adventures and – since this is the internet after all – their cats.

How can I use it for marketing my business?: Like YouTube, Instagram is great for both original content and influencer marketing. For the former, focus on lifestyle content – demonstrate your product being used in real life, and be sure to interact with other users who are doing the same. For the latter, seek out popular tastemakers who match well with your brand and reach out to them with an @mention or two.

(Don’t forget that Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you can link your two accounts to get all your Instagram posts feeding straight through to your Facebook page.)

Flickr

What is it?: If Instagram is a Polaroid camera, Flickr is an SLR. Yahoo’s veteran photo and video hosting network places a greater emphasis on sharing and browsing high-quality photography from professionals and hobbyists alike – and while it’s fallen to more popular image hosting sites such as Imgur and the aforementioned Instagram, it’s still home to a busy community.

Flickr actually has a lot of options for interacting with photos. You can ‘fave’ a photo, leave a comment, add tags to both other users’ pictures and your own (including geotagging/user tagging), and create albums and galleries (again, the latter can feature your own photos and/or those of others). Perhaps the only modern feature that’s missing is the ability to ‘retweet’ other users’ photos, but Flickr does let you embed photos in your comments and on other external websites.

Users can also create groups and add their photos to existing groups. This is a great way to find photos around a certain theme, and each group even includes a mini-forum for discussion (though the emphasis on this feature has lessened in recent years).

You can even keep track of your performance, with Flickr’s paid Pro accounts offering access to analytics data.

Who uses it?: Flickr attracts a slightly older crowd than most of the other platforms on this list; most users are aged between 25 and 40. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a site devoted to the expensive hobby of pro photography, most users earn over £30k a year, so if you’re selling premium products and services, this is a good audience to pursue.

How can I use it for marketing my business?: Every picture tells a thousand words, so leverage the visual power of Flickr and create beautiful pictures that help to tell the story of your brand. Avoid adding filters a la Instagram – people on Flickr want to see authentic photography and generally view filters as tacky.

As always with social media, appropriate keyword tags are essential for making your photos findable in searches. Be sure to interact with other users too – post comments on their creations and become an active contributor to groups.

Of course, if you’re selling camera equipment (or even devices with camera functionality, such as smartphones), Flickr is great for demonstrating their technology in the field. It even adds your camera’s info to your pictures automatically.

Vine

What is it?: Vine is the original video-microblogging platform. With this mobile app (which is now owned by Twitter), users can create and share looping videos (aka ‘vines’) of up to six seconds in length.

It doesn’t sound like much, but with plenty of editing options available (including the ability to film several shots in sequence, adjust the order of the sequence, trim each shot individually, and even include snippets of video footage from other sources), you can create some surprisingly engaging content.

There’s all the usual social features – likes, comments, hashtags and ‘revines’ are all here, and users can follow other members to keep track to their content. (Interestingly, users can also easily share vines on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.) Vine also features a variety of curated categories which users can browse to discover new content.

Who uses it?: If you’re looking to target a teenage audience, Vine is yet another modern social network that will help you reach them. It’s particularly popular with 18 to 20 year olds, with a slightly larger proportion of female users. As for their interests, vines centered around music and humour get a lot of attention on the platform.

How can I use it for marketing my business?: Like Twitter and Snapchat, Vine celebrates brevity and spontaneity; so it’s great for simply letting your customers ‘behind the scenes’ of the average business day and giving your brand a human face.

That said, spending more time and effort at the planning stage can help you create more interesting and ‘shareworthy’ content. Vine lends itself well to stop-motion animation, slight-of-hand magic and instructional guides, so feel free to experiment – as long as it fits with your brand and your audience.

Or leave the experimentation to the users who know the medium best. Inspire your followers to create their own vines featuring your unique hashtag by running competitions and other promotional events, or forge partnerships with the platform’s big-name influencers.

Twitch

What is it?: Twitch is an Amazon-owned live broadcasting service primarily for gaming content. It’s here you’ll find ‘Let’s Plays’ (where streamers play through games to show their contents and/or comment on them) and coverage of esports (essentially, professional videogaming ‘sport’).

Increasingly, it’s also becoming a place for all kinds of creative and informative non-gaming streams – which is slightly ironic, given that Twitch started life as a gaming-only offshoot of the all-purpose Justin.tv.

Signing up for an account on Twitch is easy, but users will need to download a broadcasting suite to their computer in order to start streaming.

Who uses it?: Twitch attracts a predominantly male, 18 to 34 year-old audience, who arguably have a much longer attention span than some of the other teen-focused social networks out there – after all, many streaming sessions last for hours on end.

How can I use it for marketing my business?: While the other social networks on this list give you strict control over the content you share, Twitch’s live-broadcast nature means your viewers get a realistic, unfiltered view of your brand. (Of course, that also means you’ll need to carefully plan each stream to make sure everything goes alright on the night.)

It should go without saying that if you’re selling games, technology or geek-culture products, Twitch is ideal for you. However, it’s also a superb platform for hosting outside-the-box, interactive marketing campaigns that get people talking.

For inspiration, check out Old Spice’s Nature Adventure, Totino’s Bucking Couch and Twitch Plays Pokemon – the latter isn’t a brand effort, but is a fantastic showcase of the engagement and viral marketing power of Twitch.

Keep an eye on the live chat during your stream, and acknowledge your viewers by responding to their comments and questions live on camera. (Messages come thick and fast on the more popular streams, so you might want to set up a third-party bot such as Moobot to automate some responses for you.)

 

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