4 Best Practices to Leverage Niche Social Networks for Conversions
Perhaps it's a bit of an inside joke, but National Instruments Corp. is accustomed to using graphic language with its customers. So when the Austin, Texas-based graphical programming software company decided to create a proprietary social network, its consumer base also made its affinity for the business and its products as clear as black and white.
More than 125,000 community member fans of the picture-based programming language later, Deirdre Walsh, NI's community and social media marketing manager, boils down the secret to best leveraging niche social media networks for conversions: "We provide more of a, I would say, trusted adviser role than we do a guard dog role."
So—coinciding with the "300 percent increase in the number of companies that plan to measure social media's impact on conversion in 2010," according to a December 2009 survey from Austin, Texas-based social media marketing firm Bazaarvoice—Walsh and others are providing advice to direct marketers.
Context matters, says Tommy McClure, owner of pug owner social networking site PugzMugz.com. Much like Dogster.com and Catster.com (owned by Dogster Inc.), PugzMugz.com provides content that's relevant to pet owners and only allows advertisements on the site that are about relevant products and services—such as pet insurance. McClure thinks marketers profit from this practice more than they would if he allowed elements to clash.
"We're thrown so many things that really don't even apply to our lives," McClure says. "And to have a social networking Web site like PugzMugz ... have anything else on there that doesn't relate to the audience of that Web site would be, I think, detrimental to the Web site itself. ... I really do think [advertisers] wouldn't do well if [consumers] didn't relate to the content."
If the social network already is clearly providing products and services in the proper context, as is the case with NI's proprietary community, Walsh says direct marketers can continue to drill down to provide relevance. In NI's case, its members have created niches within the NI community niche—more than 200 groups.