Fringe social networks and content hubs are rapidly gaining ground in the mainstream.
Can you increase member engagement through fringe networks?
Whether they focus on images, videos or discussions, users are getting wise to these smaller communities on the periphery. It seems that the intoxicating ease of consuming only viral media is starting to lose some of its charm, and the digital age is becoming more personal and customized.
For years, younger generations have embraced new platforms and apps, helping to dilute the monarchy of Facebook and Twitter. But now, larger, more mainstream audiences are finally catching up (and this goes beyond the acceptance of Pinterest and Instagram into advertising budgets). Content and images are finding bold new places online not only to be shared, but to live.
We’ve been flirting with the margins of the internet for years. As powerful and widely used as social media is today, people are continually drawn to unique platforms containing their exclusively niche interests (as opposed to your neighbor’s newsfeed rant about shoveling snow or pictures of a 2 year old’s birthday party).
So what is drawing these larger audiences? The comfortability of the 35+ crowd with technology helps a lot, along with the focus and power of mobile. Most of these fringe hubs have either made a smooth transition into mobile to provide for a seamless experience, or they gained their original footing entirely on mobile, including apps such as Vine and Snapchat.
The appeal and power of mobile is a huge part of this shift, and much of it simply involves scale. 80% of internet users use smartphones on a regular basis, and as previously mentioned, many of these new platforms are either entirely mobile-based or support a seamless mobile experience.
2014 and 2015 also saw a huge evolution attitude. No longer were marketers just discussing how many people were on social media in general, but all of the different demographics and specialty platforms that were blossoming. Pinterest, Instagram and Vine started to take hold with younger audiences and ushered in the fringe social network revolution. But their successes also highlighted another new reality - the preference and power of visual content. Today, posting a visual asset increases the likelihood of engagement by 80%. This is obviously a game changer and something that all organizations should take note of from a content marketing perspective.
Aside from these visual hubs, audiences are also cozying up to smaller, more interactive content hubs. Because contrary to modern cynicism, it turns out that yes - people still read! Lifelong learners are eating up these great new ways to read content, and we've included several up-and-coming platforms below.
While we don’t consider this list to be complete (nothing on the internet ever is), we encourage you explore these platforms and investigate how your organization can get in on the action.
- Wattpad: Driven to be “the world’s largest community for readers and writers.” Wattpad is a story-centric platform, a popular place for online celebrity fan fiction, and aids in marketing efforts by featuring visual and audio excerpts of new releases.
- Ello: Equal parts eye-candy and soul-candy, it’s a space for creatives to share visual art in all of its forms, from street art to poetry quotes.
- Inbound.org: A discussion-centric posting platform. Think of it as a “pretty Reddit for marketers.”
- Medium: Popular new blogging platform focused on crisp design, high-quality content and customized feeds.
- Vine: Short-form looping video posting app that has already spawned its own celebrities. Its comedic content is highly popular with teenagers, while many artists share their work to gain exposure, especially with animation and stop-motion. Vine videos are integrated with Twitter and make tweeting vines a painless process.
- Quora: Q&A done the modern way, with frank, intriguing conversations and an up-voting system.
- Imgur: Their tagline says it all: “The most awesome images on the internet.”
- Snapchat: Interactive and temporal visual conversations. In addition to company and brand accounts, Snapchat’s featured Discover Feeds in their Stories section have become a merry-go-round of colorful content sharing and promotion for brands such as Buzzfeed, Vice and Comedy Central.
- Tumblr: A well-designed, well-loved blogging platform with highly social interactivity.
- Pinterest: Enticingly visual to share images, with very lifestyle and female focused content.
What are your favorite alternative spaces to consume and share content? Join the discussion on rasa
Written by Christian Britto
We created rasa.io because we fundamentally believe that up to now, the approach most associations take to online community building has been far too narrow. Networking, resource sharing, and Q/A are just a part of the online community experience, so we created a platform the puts member engagement where it should be - at the heart of your association’s community.