Marketwired Blog

Investing in Social Niches

sum zeroThe news this week that the Winklevoss twins — the famous ex-Harvard students who may or may not have hatched the concept of Facebook — have made a $1-million investment in SumZero has the industry pondering the power of niche social networks.

In these early years of social media, we have spent a lot of time wondering what the next big thing might be. It keeps digital inventors up at night and marketers tweaking their budgets.

But perhaps there will not be a big thing again. Perhaps the future of social media lies in targeted marketing: much like broadcast and print media have been going for the past few decades.

SumZero is a great example.

It’s a an exclusive online club for people who work in the investment industry. You have to write an investment thesis with supporting documents and research to gain entry.

The idea is members share their investment strategies and documents, and for the price of admission, they gain access to others’ information. Those who are not active investors can also join, but they must meet other criteria and pay a fee.

Those who want a so-called “elite membership” must fork over $129, but they get more access to get information and can get involved in live chats with hedge fund managers.

This is hard core stuff. But the Sum Zero, launched in 2008, has truly found a lucrative niche: a captive audience who can trade information in a secure, controlled environment.

This model has tremendous value in the social media world: this new type of communication can be about more than simply sharing your daily news or your favourite pictures. It can drive entire industries.

The thing about niches is no two are the same. What social media platform would work for educators, artists, bankers or politicians? They’re likely all different and would require different rules for membership and a different model for marketing and advertising.

Instead of waiting for the next breakthrough platform to suit the masses, we can’t forget the power of the niche and look out for who’s creating the right social media network for your core customers.

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