Friday, September 24, 2010

3 Ways to Benefit from Social Network Fragmentation

While Facebook continues to crow about its 500 million member social network, an interesting (and high impact) trend reshaping how we spend our time online has gone relatively overlooked.

That is until BusinessWeek's Douglas MacMillan weighed in with a must read article entitled "A Big Trend in Small Social Sites."

MacMillan profiles a number of niche, consumer-oriented social networks, including GoFISHn (for anglers), Dogster (for canine owners), Curse (for video gamers) and CafeMom ( guessed it, moms).  While their reach is relatively limited, these communities have generated interest among advertisers seeking to connect with their targeted and highly engaged participants.

A question MacMillan fails to address in his article is how this trend has influenced social media participation in a business-to-business environment.  Our experience at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has been that the adoption of niche communities by business professionals has been equally pronounced. 

Take the government space as an example.  Yes...there are groups on LinkedIn and Facebook comprised of federal and state/local workers.  Yet, to truly appreciate the breadth and depth of social participation you'd have to spend time on Govloop, govWin, Disgover, Govtwit and the Federal Contractor Network.

The rise of vertical-oriented social communities creates a myriad of promotional, thought leadership and sales oriented opportunities for solutions providers and vendors that understand how to appropriately engage in  a social environment.

Here are three straight-forward ways to get started:

1.  Be there.  Sounds simple, right?  Yet, Woody Allen was spot on when he said 80 percent of success in life is showing up.  Set up a comprehensive profile that defines who you are, why you are participating in the community and what you hope to accomplish (i.e. make connections).

2.  Share, Comment and Give Before You Take.  It's critical to bring value to the community by reading and commenting on discussions, sharing industry articles and content that's of interest, and offering counsel and support to other members.  Invest in relationships and you'll validate your membership and participation.

3.  Prioritize Community Members of Interest.  Not everyone is equal in business and this carries through in social networking.  Executive level participants, content creators and power users (i.e. those with large followings) have more influence.  Manage your time by making it a priority to engage with these participants.   

No comments: