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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

How Niche Platforms Will Dominate Social Media in 2021 and Beyond

People are shifting from larger, older social platforms to niche networks.

How Niche Platforms Will Dominate Social Media in 2021 and Beyond
[Дмитрий Киричай/Adobe Stock]

The way we live changed in 2020. In-person social interactions came to a halt, the definition of work-life balance shifted, and a rise in digitization across industries changed the way we do business. We saw a number of these changes reflected in social media behaviors and platforms.

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The number of people who use social media soared to almost 4 billion last year. Brands clambered to make their voices heard across platforms amid a cacophony of noise. TikTok took the world by storm, and according to Oberlo, “global time spent on TikTok grew 210% YoY in 2019.” While social media use saw a significant surge, studies indicate that many users began to reevaluate their relationships with various platforms. According to a Pew Research Center survey, more than half of Facebook users 18 and older have adjusted their privacy settings in the past year, 42% of users have taken a break from checking the platform, and 26% have deleted the app from their phone altogether.

Amid the noise, companies still need to communicate their message to a global audience. People are tired of being inundated by a constant barrage of content. They want to see things they’re interested in. It has become increasingly difficult for brands to be visible on platforms like Facebook without spending serious money on advertising. But we’ve seen a trend emerging in the last year that might provide some relief.

People are shifting from larger, older social platforms to niche networks. This gives them ample opportunity to connect with more specific audiences.

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HOW NICHE PLATFORMS CAN SOLVE INDUSTRY ISSUES AND CREATE COMMUNITY

Not only are niche platforms on the rise, but they are also providing innovative solutions to industry-wide issues, and in some scenarios, they are changing the way the game is played. The entertainment industry offers a great example. In March 2020, the entire industry was forced to come to a halt. This left many without work or pay. The niche platform Stage 32 offered a way for people in the industry to maintain connections during the pause.

Stage 32 is an entertainment industry-specific social media network that connects executives and creatives to bring competitive content to big-box producers and streaming platforms. In addition to a sense of community, the platform offers libraries of training and education users can access at any time, and there are also instructors who advise members on how to make high-quality content.

CONNECTING TOP MINDS TO CREATE SOLUTIONS

Niche platforms help cut through the clutter and noise that permeates social media, giving people in specific communities a space to collaborate. While platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook allow users to create individual groups for people in specific industries, streamlining the entire platform to a single topic or industry creates an exclusivity that allows for a higher level of discussion. This is especially true when the topic of the platform is highly technical or complex. For example, Figure 1 is a leading medical platform where medical professionals can compare and discuss their expertise and recent innovations, and offer advice. It provides a dedicated space for peer-to-peer collaboration, helping its users keep their skills sharp and fostering growth and education in the medical community.

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NICHE PLATFORMS TO NICHE TOOLS

Niche communication strategies aren’t exclusive to platforms.

As niche platforms change the places people go to communicate, niche apps change how people communicate. One platform, Songclip, is bringing music to the equation by giving creators, entrepreneurs, and more the ability to seamlessly integrate popular music into their communication strategies. Like the platforms that cater specifically to consumer interests, Songclip is a response to a broad consumer desire to add music to posts, messages, videos, and more.

The platform helps users overcome the barrier that prevents most communication platforms from including popular music: music licensing. With Songclip committed to handling licensing concerns, popular tracks aren’t just for the people or the brands with the most money—this communication tool serves as an equalizer, enabling everyone to have access to the best, most popular music.

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It’s clear that niche platforms and tools are on the rise. Users are pinpointing their interests, and they want social platforms and tools to follow suit. It’s time to add specificity to communication strategies.


Shama is the CEO of Zen Media, a b2b PR and marketing firm for technology-driven b2b brands, a best-selling author, & a keynote speaker.

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