Magazine article ADWEEK

Social Investors Seek Next Niche Networks

Magazine article ADWEEK

Social Investors Seek Next Niche Networks

Article excerpt

Investors, users and, more importantly, advertisers are on a constant hunt for The Next Big Thing. With LinkedIn trading publicly and Facebook's IPO around the corner, it's no surprise cool hunters are hungry for another big social play.

"Investors are asking, 'What are other networks of people?'" said Seth Sternberg, CEO and co-founder of Meebo. "LinkedIn owns the professional network. Facebook owns the friends network," he said. No one expects an up-and-comer to supplant the category leaders, so instead, market watchers are looking to niches beyond "professionals" and "friends."

The problem with a niche, of course, is just that: It's a niche. Facebook and LinkedIn succeeded because of their scale; aiming for a limited audience is less attractive. There are already scores of small niche players that are likely doomed to toil in obscurity. MuggleSpace, for example, bills itself as "the ultimate Harry Potter Social Network." Ravelry serves the knitting community. NaturallyCurly Network, "the leading social network for people with curly, kinky and wavy hair," managed to secure $1.5 million in venture funding last year.

Big money, in the form of ads and investments, will go to the social media categories that think big. …

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