Advertising and consumer reach have changed permanently in 2020. The normal ways of reaching consumers had to change to meet consumers where they were, at home and online.
How has this changed the marketing strategy?
Last year, the number of users of social media exceeded the 3.8 billion mark. TikTok took the social media world by storm with virtual masses of new users signing up and the time spent on the platform growing significantly. The way people interacted with social media became more and more involved as the usage of videos and Instagram stories increased, which helped people share their daily moments.
But as social media usage increases, user habits are changing. Facebook usage has decreased, as has users and the total time spent on Instagram. But the marketing influence of social media is going nowhere. According to eMarketer, over 55 percent of Generation Z internet users in the US say their recent fashion purchases were inspired by social media content. Its e-commerce and community building potential still holds immense power. In the midst of the virtual masses, companies have the same goal: to find their target audience; communicate with them; turn a consumer into a customer. However, this is shifting from broad-based to niche platforms.
So how are companies prepared to adapt? What new strategies are needed in a digital world that is also saturated with users, messages, products and noise?
Why niche platforms are on the rise
A lot of people are taking a break from bigger platforms like Facebook and Instagram because of the increasing negativity on those big platforms. Brands that stick to traditional platforms like Facebook can spend thousands of dollars on advertising and miss out on being seen by their target audience. And there is always the risk that marketing campaigns will simply get lost in the jumble of these broad platforms on which users and companies compete for attention.
People are switching from broad social platforms to niche networks where they can connect with specific, like-minded audiences. This reduces the noise and allows users to see the type of content they want to interact with. Niche platforms provide a significant opportunity for brands to create a community and sell their products to genuinely interested people.
For example, the entertainment industry’s production essentially ceased last March, leaving content creators with no work or pay. A niche platform helped stuff the booth by providing a place for creation to continue – Stage 32, a social media network for the entertainment industry. This platform connects executives and creatives at all levels to deliver competitive content to big box producers and streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and more.
And as the entertainment industry looked at shutdowns, another niche platform emerged for an industry overwhelmed with work, Figure 1. This platform connects health professionals from around the world and enables them to learn from one another while being HIPPA compliant .
Swap simple marketing for specific marketing
By finding niche platforms that consolidate users in a similar field or interest, marketers and advertisers can easily target their primary audience. Marketing to users who already tend to have your product or service seems easy, but there is more to it than that. The users of a niche platform that suits your business are likely to be more knowledgeable about the products or services in their industry. In some cases they can be experts. A simple sales pitch or marketing campaign is not enough.
Marketing to someone who has a lot of knowledge about your industry or product requires training. This is a one-way street. Marketers can learn a lot about how to get their message across to the audience by listening to their target audience’s concerns. Discussion forums on industry, hobby or interest-specific platforms create simple gold mines for market research.
On the other hand, you need to bring something to the conversation. To attract a knowledgeable audience, you need to bring the knowledge with you. It is not enough to bring your product to the attention of niche consumers, they need to know what makes it different, better and specific to their needs. You no longer market the item or service as a concept; your message has to show the details.
The future of marketing is clear. In a world overwhelmed by digital news, brands need to find their focus and develop something special for their audience. Instead of trying to be everything for everyone, find out where you stand out and create opportunities for your audience to connect.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.