Brands constantly strive to identify their target audiences, tailor their messaging and build customer relationships. While social listening has been a popular and effective method for gathering insights, there’s another treasure trove of data waiting to be explored: niche communities. They can supplement and even outperform social listening in certain scenarios.
What are Niche Communities?
Niche communities are online groups where individuals with shared interests or expertise come together to discuss, learn, and connect with stronger bonds. These communities range from hobbyists and enthusiasts to professionals and experts in a specific field.
Why Niche Communities Matter for Brands?
- Authentic Conversations: Niche communities are often built on trust and genuine passion, making them ideal for honest discussions. These spaces allow brands to tap into unfiltered opinions and feedback, providing a unique level of insight that may not be as readily available through social listening.
- Expert Opinions: Niche communities often attract individuals with a deep understanding of a particular subject. These experts can provide valuable feedback and insights, helping brands refine their offerings and better understand their target audience’s needs and preferences.
- Early Adopters and Influencers: Members of niche communities are typically passionate about their interests and are more likely to be early adopters or influencers within their respective fields. Engaging with these individuals can help brands stay ahead of trends and gain a competitive edge in their market.
- Longevity of Conversations: Unlike social media platforms where content has a short lifespan, discussions within niche communities can continue for extended periods. This longevity allows brands to gather in-depth insights over time and track the evolution of opinions and preferences.
- Reduced Noise: Niche communities often have a higher signal-to-noise ratio compared to social media platforms. This makes it easier for brands to focus on meaningful conversations and extract relevant insights.
Leveraging Niche Communities for Insights
First you need to identify relevant communities on other platforms or you may consider growing that community yourself. The latter is a lot harder and the incentives for the community are just not that strong (see here for our take on this topic).
Once you’ve found your communities, the most important and fun part starts which is engaging with them.
Rather than just “listening” passively to what the community talks about, we suggest getting actively involved in these conversations by prompting them to discuss brand specific topics.
This does NOT mean promoting products, it’s about asking questions that would trigger conversations that normally don’t happen on social, such as:
- What does the community think about the design, pricing, positioning of the brand’s products?
- Which product features / benefits that are marketed resonate with the community most?
- What are their actual pain points without mentioning the brand’s products?
- Which products do they use to help solve these pain points?
New approach requires new technology
The magic of niche communities comes up at the moment brands ask open ended, genuine questions to them and follow up with “why?”. Communities share generously, they give insights beyond the brief when they’re actively engaged, respected and not simply seen as sales targets.
Analysing these conversations requires disruptive new technologies which bring together the power of unstructured conversational data with behavioural segmentation - who says what is the key to truly understanding the community.
The good news is that generative AI and other large language models made huge strides recently and are becoming readily available to brands. Young technology companies like Multytude provide services both in helping build these niche communities (e.g. the ones about hair care or spirits) for brands and analysing them with the help of pioneering technologies.
Niche communities hold immense potential for brands seeking to gain valuable insights, supplementing traditional social listening efforts. By tapping into these communities, brands can access authentic conversations, expert opinions, and a wealth of untapped data.
By actively engaging with them by prompts in a respectful manner brands can fine-tune their marketing strategies and foster stronger connections with their target audiences.