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Why niche social networks will become more lucrative.

There is a group of people that despise mainstream ventures. People that despise the Miley Cyrus/Jonas Bros. of the moment. People that despise the Hollywood blockbuster (or to theatre folk, those that despise film’s popularity over performance art.) This group instead prides itself in being part of a smaller group.

If you think about it, we’re all part of this group. Our social nature is not to be a part of the largest mass, but of a niche. Most of the time it’s easier to buy the mass produced product, but our social interactions are different.

Out of my friends, I can name a niche for each of them. They’re not iconoclasts — they don’t pride themselves in going against the grain — but each finds themselves part of a very exclusive group that shares their passions (even some you or I would find silly.)

Singer, politico, actor, photographer, they can each interact with others from their niche on social networks. The thing is that there’s a difference between being on a mainstream network and a niche network.

We have social networks like Facebook and MySpace, sites that allow users to accomplish interactions similar to Twitter, Flickr, and even community forums. It’s the mainstream, not the niche. They’re popular because they allow the easiest interactions. The primary use of a social site is to communicate, and no one does it better than these two sites.

Websites like Broadway Space, Flickr, DeviantArt are social network services for specific niches. Less users, but everyone on them has a more common thread. There is passion shared amongst users.

Most social network users will, in addition to their Facebook account, also have an account with one of these niche sites, despite the fact that Facebook can do it, and despite the integration of third party applications.

Everyone can upload photos to Facebook, and photographers can surely share their work with friends. Flickr enables the photographer niche to be a community. Suddenly, when the interactions become about photography Flickr makes it easier to interact with other photographers.

People can start groups on Facebook about Broadway and performance art, but Broadway Space enables them to be a community. So the users find themselves on Broadways Space instead of Facebook.

If you’re looking to create a social network, do not look to compete with Facebook and MySpace. Start a niche site. Yes, by nature you’ll never be as popular as a mainstream site. That’s okay. Your users will be more faithful and more active than Facebook users.

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