Beyond Facebook and Twitter: So Many Social Media Sites ... So Little Time: Participate on the Right Niche Networks to Grow Your Business

Article excerpt

For me, it's a no-brainer. When visiting a new city, I check into a hotel I've researched thoroughly on TripAdvisor, then digitally check into the hotel using foursquare, before searching for a 3.5+ rated restaurant on Yelp for a quick bite. Unwilling to take a chance on bedbugs or bad service, I set up my entire experience of unfamiliar places based on niche social media.

Whether you're social or not, your customers are already online talking about you--good or bad. And if you're not familiar with any of the SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) brands mentioned above, your business may be missing out.

Niche social sites range from review-based apps to true social networks specialized to one's industry. Unlike Facebook or Twitter--which have large, unwieldy audiences--niche social networks and websites are inherently self-targeted. Mommy-and-me businesses can better reach their audiences with Pinterest, whose users are 80 percent women, half of them moms. Nonprofits seeking donations or other types of support can use Causes, whose visitors are less likely to ignore a philanthropic plea than one's network on Facebook. What niche social networks lack in monstrous numbers; they make UI) for in concentrated engagement. "Get small. Think big," is how marketing expert Seth Godin sums it up in his best-selling book Small Is the New Big. "You can decide to own your niche, to go deep instead of wide," Godin explains. "If you build a *list of people with similar interests, this tribe of fellow travelers will support you as you support them."

You don't, however, want to go too small, and you don't want to waste time on a social network that doesn't serve your small business. Here are sonic niche social media websites or apps that could help your business improve everything from fan engagement to productivity.

Causes

Nonprofit organizations., rejoice! Since its founding in 2007, the niche application Causes says it has inspired more than 170 million people to help more than 500,000 unique causes. Create a petition or pledge, raise money and manage email lists, all at no cost. Only registered nonprofits are allowed to create a petition, but they can feature it in any number of user-created causes. For example, a petition created by Save School Music! was one of the top featured actions under the education causes category.

Being one of the largest applications on Facebook gives Causes a solid reputation that encourages sharing and offers peace of mind that donations will be securely processed.

You should be a user if ... you're a local nonprofit, charitable business or anyone looking to garner philanthropic support.

Available on ... Causes.com

FYI ... Even if you're not involved with a nonprofit organization, Causes' Birthday Wish tool is an easy way for concerned citizens to rally friends to donate to a personalized fundraising page in lieu of birthday gifts.

43 Things

Goal-setting social network 43 Things takes personal development to an interactive level. Users list 43 goals or hopes, which are then connected to other users' goals with similar phrases or ideas. Document your progress, explore others' objectives and "cheer" them on: 43 Things helps hold you accountable to your goals via healthy peer pressure. For even more ways to be socially accountable, each individual goal can be shared to Twitter, Facebook or email.

Its usefulness is best described in 43 Things' own tagline: "Changing your life is hard. Doing it by yourself is harder."

You should be a user if ... you want to include social media in your personal development goals.

Available on ... 43Things.com, Apple App Store

FYI ... Want to complete a bucket list item or goal with a business partner, friend or family member? 43 Things allows you to "invite" someone to join you on your goals. Everyone involved in the goal can share updates and track each other's progress. …