If you go back just five years or so, everyone was talking about how wonderful Facebook and Instagram are for marketing and niche community building.
Anybody who was anybody had a Facebook group and it was seen as the pinnacle of online community building.
How times have changed…
For various reasons, including data privacy issues (Cambridge Analytica), controversial policy changes, and algorithms that restrict, rather than promote, marketing reach – Facebook has fallen out of favour.
So, if you want to build or grow an online niche community, how can you do it and who can you turn to?
Worry not. We’ll help you understand what makes a good niche community, why they are shaping up to the future of online marketing and business growth, and how to build one for yourself.
What are niche communities?
It helps to think of a niche community as a special interest club or group.
For instance, a person into flower arranging may go to night classes to learn how to do it. An online flower arranging community is the niche community equivalent. Or a silent film enthusiast may go to an independent cinema screening to enjoy their passion in real-life, whereas they may join a dedicated online niche community to share and discuss rare footage.
There’s an endless list of niche community ideas and sub-niches. For example, the “art” niche can be broken into dozens of sub-niches. There’s oil painting, watercolours, sculpture, pop-art, renaissance art, portraits, animation, etc.
Why create your own niche community?
There is one main reason to create your own niche community rather than rely on Facebook Groups or Instagram. It is to stand out from the crowd. You can include your own branding and you’re not restricted by the rules and policies of a third party company.
At the moment, there are relatively few businesses with their own niche communities, but this is changing rapidly.
So, why are people so keen to set up their own niche communities?
With your own customised niche community, you get the opportunity to communicate more with your members, and create opportunities for engagement.
For instance, some community platforms, such as Disciple, allow you to live stream content to members as well as send out push notifications. This means you can notify everyone about an upcoming live stream, then deliver your content directly to viewers who can interact with you in real-time.
Build your brand image
Whether you’re a solopreneur or you have your own business, creating a niche community lets you customise the experience your members get. You can incorporate logos, brand images, colour schemes, fonts and themes that match your branding. This helps you to stand out from the crowd and helps to build your credibility.
Increase trust and loyalty
People are becoming more and more distrusting of social media outlets. A 2018 survey revealed that 9% of people closed their Facebook accounts that year, with a further 35% reporting that they are using the platform less and less.
Niche community sites and apps on the other hand are growing in popularity year on year, soaking up the estimated 2 million users Facebook is losing each year. Part of the reason for this is that people trust smaller, independent communities than large social-media controlled ones.
Besides adding value and enjoyment to the lives of members, niche communities can also be highly profitable for the individuals and businesses running them.
A University of Michigan study revealed that customers spend an average of 19% more when they join a niche community belonging to a company, compared to similar social media groups on platforms such as Facebook.
You can also tap into a new concept called the “passion economy”. This is monetising people’s desire to learn more and develop skills in their area of interest or passion. For instance, a yoga teacher can create a private premium member’s area for an intensive course on Vinyasa yoga with weekly group coaching sessions.
Creating your online niche community
Fortunately, the process of building and growing your niche community has been made a whole lot easier in recent years by the rise of dedicated community platforms.
Community platforms such as Disciple offer a full community building package including:
- creation of a fully customisable website or app builder
- communication tools such as Newsfeeds, Private Messaging, Group Threads, Push Notifications and Livestreams
- full access and control of data, including analytic tools
- content libraries to store all your resources centrally
- event planning and scheduling tools
- mobile-friendly software and apps
Niche communities are a much more effective way to engage and communicate with your audience and potential customers than social media.
Many businesses are now waking up to that idea. It’s time to go beyond Facebook and create their own, fully customised online community.
If you’re interested in seeing what more Disciple has to offer, contact us now to book a free demo.