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Last updated on 3/8/23

Use Sector-Specific Platforms

You just saw the general platforms, but there are many others that you should identify as potential places you could find your community. It may be interesting to study niche networks, which bring people together with a common profile or interest. The network itself is a community! 🌐


Twitch is a network dedicated to live streaming video games. 🎮 You watch a player participating in a video game, with a social dimension: you can comment, interact with other spectators, or with the player(s). Some players allow spectators to make choices in the game by voting. 

As shown below, the Pokémon Red game in a vintage atmosphere.

Moving image showing a live chat in the Pokémon game.
Source: Twitch

Twitch is developing quickly and promises great opportunities, even for organizations that have nothing to do with video games.

The Washington Post uses Twitch to broadcast live video, such as the Mark Zuckerberg congressional hearing. You can read about it here!


Meetup began by creating in-person events and represents a social network classified by interest. Users have a profile, and you can connect with other attendees from your event.

This network is suitable for events:

  • Professionals: conferences, award evenings, etc. 

  • Cultural: art exhibitions, board games, language exchanges, dining, tourist visits, etc. 

  • Athletes: coaching sessions, classes, hiking or bike trips, etc. 

  • Private events that require more management than what a Facebook Event: a big trip, wedding, etc.

Small Ads Networks

Some sites and apps incorporate social features, especially for those with a complete profile. They can serve as a space for a very specific social media operation. Craigslist may be worth considering. Some announcements get people to talk, and this may be an opportunity for you. 

Creative Networks

Flickr, although losing momentum, remains an essential network for some photographers. This population is similar to those found on Instagram or Tumblr. If your organization wants to reach all photographers, you have to be on Flickr.

Graphic designers, videographers, typographers, web designers, and other visual professions use Dribbble or Behance. These platforms allow them to inspire each other, exhibit their work, and build networks and work teams.

Music Networks

YouTube is the number one tool when it comes to listening to music. But the functionalities of Spotify, Grooveshark, Deezer, Songdrop, and last.fm are exclusively music-oriented, permitting them to dedicate their social functions towards it. They remain fairly basic: create a playlist, share it, follow it, send songs to each other.

Soundcloud is also interesting for music and podcasts.

Keep these spaces in mind. Lots of things have to do with music, so don't overlook this opportunity. If you offer a fitness class, for example, you could very well share the playlist of the next session beforehand to put your students in the right mood.

Anonymous Networks

Reddit is a very raw and unique network. The community creates content in sub-categories (subreddits) and votes for or against (upvote or downvote) the content contained within. The smallest or most funny creations (images, links, texts, etc.) emerge. It's where many of the memes you find on Twitter or Facebook are born. The "Redditors" are regulars, and their community is very galvanized: it uses specific codes, which are sometimes incomprehensible from the outside.

Using this same model are 9GAG and 4chan. The "4chaners" is a more obscure community. Anarchic movements can emerge and become uncontrollable, like the 4chan raids, group movements sometimes positive (hacking and destroying a pedophile site), but sometimes controversial (harassing celebrities).

Networks of Scholars and Enthusiasts

For knowledge-sharing networks, consider Ask.fm, Quora, or Medium where you can discuss specific subjects. There's also Wikipedia, but the contributors are less emphasized. Even if users create all of the content, its status as a social network is questionable.

Consider blogging platforms like WordPress or Overblog, even if their operations are more vertical than horizontal. A blog is more a personal medium than a space for discussion.

Many networks exist around shared passions. They often take the form of forums. Amino, for example, offers enthusiasts the chance to discuss various themes ranging from K-pop to history. They take advantage of classic features like a chat, but quizzes, as well. Think about it if your organization is dealing with a very comprehensive subject. If you represent a comic book store, you probably have enthusiasts you can communicate with on this network.

You most likely know about the WebMD forums. In the United States, it is the most visited health publisher, seeing an average of 179 million unique users per month. They discuss health care, pharmaceutical information, and physician recommendations there.

Opinion Networks, the Google ecosystem, and the Dark Social

IMDB is a network of film recommendations. You can rate the works, write reviews, react to others, and follow reviewers who seem to have similar tastes. It's also a database of those who work in the industry.

Foursquare is an old but still active application built on gamification: a race to be the virtual mayor somewhere. You can find recommendations about all types of places such as restaurants, cafes, tourist and cultural destinations, party locations, and events. It is now two platforms: Swarm for check-ins and Foursquare to review a place.

Tripadvisor, Facebook Local, LocalEats, Yelp, or Spotted by Locals are also location recommendation services, each operating slightly differently. Google Reviews is also an important opinion network connected to Google Search and Google Maps. A positive review can bring you traffic very quickly.

Messaging and private conversations are often called dark social. People may say something about your organization, but you don't have access to it. Other messaging networks include Gmail, Google Hangouts, Telegram, Viber, LINE, WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype, WeChat, and QQ. The last two are primarily in China.

Country-Specific Networks

If you are entering the Chinese market, understand that it is a world apart in social networks. The standards are quite different:

  • Sina Weibo is a mix of Twitter and Facebook.

  • YY is a combination of Facebook Live and Google Hangouts.

  • Baidu Tieba is a forum based on keyword searches in the Baidu search engine.

  • Qzone is like Tumblr for its wide variety of formats: photos, videos, music, writing, etc.

  • 51.com is a gamer network.

Toutiao, TikTok, Xigua, or Pipixia may not tell you anything. However, these are apps with huge usage figures and are very popular in China. The company behind these products defines them as a mix of social media and search engines.

In Russia or the Russian-speaking world, VKontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki are both popular generalist networks, the first being more extensive than the second.

Among professional networks, even if LinkedIn is the leader in most markets, the French Viadeo still brings together many business people. Just like its German equivalent, Xing, which is still widely used. In China, professionals use Tianji, Jingwei, Wealink, or Ushi.

If your community is in Japan, you'll spend time on the instant messaging service, LINE, and its game ecosystem. It's the most used tool, combining all categories, even ahead of Google! 

Usages vary around the world. But the primary networks remain those that you've seen.

Proprietary Networks

Why not develop your own social space? Several factors can push you in that direction:

  • You represent a very specific population that has no network on which to meet.

  • You address sensitive subjects and offer pseudonyms to your members (politics, sexuality, religion).

  • Your community is spread across too many different platforms.

  • The existing networks do not provide you the features that you want for your community.

  • You hope to acquire data about your community and control one more link in the value chain.

Some companies have done it: Airbnb has developed its own messaging tool. It allows the company to access conversations and make life easier for users; the alternative is to contact each other through WhatsApp, knowing that not everyone uses this service. But above all, Airbnb has developed a network for its hosts. This forum allows them to exchange advice and opinions on various topics. Airbnb can:

  • Let the community discuss and transform the customer support time by email/phone into moderation/maintenance time.

  • Increase the efficiency of its hosts.

  • Increase the value delivered to guests.

  • Create an attachment to the Airbnb brand.

  • Become more than a simple marketplace.

Source: Airbnb
Source: Airbnb

Let's Recap!

  • Choose networks where you want to establish your presence, depending on:

    • The presence and activity of your community: which networks appear first on their phones? Which are popular in their region (see: China and Russia)?

    • The possibilities of each network offers, such as the type of content or animation.

  • Consider the popular networks and study some niche ones, not yet overrun by your competitors.

  • Decide on the relevance of continuing your presence on a particular network. If it's too time-consuming and you don't see any noticeable activity after a few months:

    • Stop posting, and focus on other networks.

    • Maintain a minimum level of activity: duplicate content on your favorite networks.

  • Consider creating your own discussion space.

 With your platforms now identified, remember to complete the third part of your social media marketing mix strategy and come back after taking the end-of-part quiz. 

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