TikTok, Reddit, and Facebook Know the Internet is for Star Trek Nerds, and It’s Time You Knew it Too.
Have you seen Facebook’s most recent ad campaign? Here’s a link to their 2020 Super Bowl commercial, if not. The #MoreTogether campaign, launched by Facebook in 2019, goes all-in on one key functionality of Facebook. And it may not be the function you’d expect.
It’s not photo-sharing. It’s not free video calling or free messaging in Messenger. It’s not even their new YouTube-rivaling content delivery platform Facebook Watch.
Specifically laser-targeted Facebook Groups with key self-identifiers, where a person can meet-up with other rough-and-tumble “Lady Bikers of California,” swap tips with fellow differently-abled basketball players in “DeafHoops,” or share their stylized photography on the “Cottagecore Farmposting” group. The social media giant with almost 3 billion users—nearly 40% of the world’s population—has launched a multi-platform ad campaign highlighting an 11-year-old feature, highlighting examples that have a few thousand users in each case.
The Mono-Culture is Dead, Long Live the Weirdos
So what’s the deal? Why has Facebook’s advertising the last two years doubled-down on hyper-focused groups with such niche audiences as “LGBTQ Crochet/Knitting/Crafters?”
It’s because Facebook knows that the internet was made for fandoms, hobbyists, enthusiasts, and die-hards.
In the “old days” marketers’ options for targeting their audience were relatively limited to a few key demographic identifiers—sure, we could place TV ads on the right channels at the right times to hit a certain age and gender demo, and even get some geographic data in there too. But what we’re talking about here goes beyond demographics. We’re talking about genuine, self-identified interest in a specific topic, hobby, or sub-industry. The internet age and the social media landscape have enabled communities of people to actively engage in conversations about the topics that matter to them like never before—the holy grail of potential customers.
This concept is largely the reason for TikTok’s overnight explosive success. TikTok’s “For You Page” (FYP) homepage feature takes the hashtag concept of cataloguing topics into lists and cranks it up to 11. The entire in-app experience is built around finding your own weird corner of TikTok and tripling-down on feeding you content from that segment over and over again. Spend a week or two telling TikTok what you like and don’t like, and your own little corner of the content-creation behemoth will look radically different from someone else’s.
Reddit’s entire platform is built on the same conceit— Looking for other Klingon-speaking Star Trek nerds to geek out with? There’s a subreddit for that. Want to talk about the trials and tribulations of nurturing a newborn bunny? r/RaisingRabbits is the place for you.
So what does all this mean for us, the marketers, as we try to reach the ever-elusive “perfect fit” for our brand-messaging, and (hopefully) make a sale?
Well, for starters, it means the proverbial haystack for needle-searching is a lot smaller than it used to be. But more importantly, it means that if we are smart and effectively leverage the work done for us by the social networks, we can target our time, energy, and dollars on highly qualified leads instead of on misses.
How to Leverage Niche Communities to Converse, Convert, and Sell Greatly
Knowing your audience is all gathered around one proverbial campfire is nice, but doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you don’t use it to your advantage. Here are three key steps to harnessing the power of niche communities to effectively convert customers:
- Invest in the right platform
If your audience isn’t on TikTok don’t waste your time there. And if they aren’t on Facebook, you shouldn’t waste your time there either. There’s some value in the raw numbers—as we said at the top, 3 billion Facebook users ain’t nothing—but if you are confident that your audience isn’t having conversations on that platform, then go engage them where they are talking. Do some Social Reconnaissance and find out where the cool kids are hanging out.
- Find, befriend, and hire the right influencer.
The “r’ in “influenceR” is key here. The “right” influencer for your brand has access to the niche groups you want (influence) and uses it effectively (the “r”). almost never means the one with the most followers. Do you know who the most followed American on Instagram is? Dwayne the Rock Johnson. Do you know who we’d pick to sell shampoo? Literally anyone else. True “influence” in a niche community can be a gold mine for your brand—but finding an authentic influencer in the community where your followers are can be tricky. They need to not only be a trusted voice in the conversation, but they also need to wield that voice to authentically guide consumers toward your brand.
- Feed the campfire.
We’ve long been fans of Campfire Brands at Converse Digital, and we’ve built a few over the last decade (powered by social media engagement) and watched how the consumer target audience embraced, supported and helped us grow awareness of the brand AND the community campfire we were building. Once you find the hotspot where your audience is gathered, throw a log on the fire! 78% of consumers want brands to use social media to help people connect with each other, and 41% believe brands should create private communities on social media channels. Add something meaningful to the conversation, and watch the s’mores toast to golden brown.