Until this week’s lecture and assignment I hadn’t ever given niche social networks a thought. Upon looking into a few, though, their potential value for marketers is apparent. When considering which social media platforms a brand should have a presence on, the usual suspects are always mentioned – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, etc. But niche social networks shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed. Socialmediaweek.org explains that having a presence on a niche network means a marketer doesn’t have to cut “through the noise on mainstream platforms” to reach their target audience. According to the article, niche marketing allows for qualified leads, increased engagement and great marketing ROI. Mashable and TechCrunch agree. Now, that I’m sold on the worth of niche social media, let’s dive deeper into one.
I signed up for two new platforms I had never heard of, WAYN and VeganWALL. Both intrigued me and I plan on exploring them both in more depth, but for the purpose of this assignment I’ll focus on VeganWALL.
VeganWALL is exactly what it sounds like – a content community for vegans to connect, discuss, share, and discover all things vegan. The platform is very new; its 1.0 version launched just this week (its beta launched in October 2014), but it’s clear ease of navigation and use were important to its creators.
WALL is where users share “bricks” (or posts). According to the site, on the Wall users can “share posts, photos and videos as well as rate and comment on posts published on the site by other users.” Each brick has an Upvote and Downvote button. The more Upvotes a brick gets the higher it will appear on the Wall; and vice versa for Downvotes.
The Wall is split into sections: Hot, Latest, Discussed, and Following. Furthermore, you can filter by language. Hot is populated with the most upvoted bricks, Latest shows the bricks that have most recently been posted. To see the bricks that are receiving the most amount of comments, head to Discussed. Lastly, Following includes the Communities you are subscribed to. VeganWALL allows users to subscribe to discussions based on topic, location or other criteria. Users can even create their own Communities.
RECIPES section is set up much like the Wall section, but it solely includes recipes. Like the Wall, users can add their own bricks, upvote or downvote bricks, and comment on bricks. Recipes section is split into Hot, Latest, Discussed and Liked. This section includes a search bar so users can looks up recipes more easily.
PEOPLE section shows the users who are in your area. You can also view those who “just signed up” and the “weekly top” people. From here, you can click on a person and view their profile, which includes a bio, location, language, Karma points, earned badges and latest bricks.
PLACES displays nearby vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants and stores. It allows users to suggest a new place, too. When a user clicks on a Place it takes you to its profile, which includes images, address, description, hours, its website, and reviews other VeganWALL users have given it.
The Places feature lends itself nicely to marketers desiring to utilize proximity marketing. Because this feature relies on your phone’s or computer’s geo-location, marketers can tap into this feature and reach out. Currently, the only way for a marketer to do this would be to post a brick to a local Community page. VeganWALL has plans to add private message and chat features to the site, though, which will be another way for brands to nearby contacting users via the site.
New users can sign up easily by logging in with their existing Facebook or Google+ accounts. This lends itself nicely to incorporating Facebook and Google+ into a vegan-friendly brand’s marketing mix. By having a presence on all three social media networks, a brand is able to create a lasting impression on the users. Additionally, a vegan-friendly brand that maintains a blog could post bricks to various Communities, bringing VeganWALL users to their site.
This network is important because it connects vegans with one another on a global scale. Upon searching for other social media platforms aimed at vegans, I only found two other platforms – one was a dating site and the other a social network. Both are reminiscent of websites from the 1990s (remember any of these?). Though plenty of websites list vegan-friendly locales (one of the more popular ones is Happy Cow), none are allow for collaborating or engaging with one another. While vegans could use Facebook and other larger social media platforms, they don’t allow for all of the features VeganWALL offers, such as ease of searching for a recipe or nearby restaurant.
VeganWALL fills this hole. It is community oriented and sleekly designed. Its purpose is clear – to be a resource for vegans to share tips, recipes, and vegan-friendly businesses – and its interface is easy to use. Veganism is becoming more widely adopted (read about it here, here, here and here) and the lack of a social media network of a growing and generally vocal (see PETA) group of individuals sets VeganWALL up for a great chance of success.
VeganWALL has much growing to do, but I believe it will soon catch on with the vegan community globally.