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Niche Social Media Networks

Photo Courtesy of Ravelry.com

I try to read a few blogs every morning over my cup of coffee when not starting client calls. This is actually part of my job. I have about 20 I rotate through each week dividing up a couple every day. I have each tagged with hot ticket topics and should news break that is very important to the Social Media, Networks, or SEM/SEO landscape those RSS feeds pound my inbox on my phone. Pretty savvy if I do say so myself!

This morning an article from Jordan Kasteler over at Search Engine Journal:

How Niche Social Media Sites Are Shaping Online Communication

It is a great article and one that speaks volumes to what I have been communicating for some time. I have amazing clients in my professional space (and my craft one!) and of course I appreciate the fact they are trying to get the best for their money. It is no different than what I do really when running my home. What is somewhat shocking (best word I can think of right now) is that so many focus on throwing dollars at Google and have looked no further down the landscape to examine getting into other markets.

This article does bring another thought to mind, diversity.

On Nov 13th 2010 as you can see, Ravelry.com welcomed its millionth member. What is Ravelry?   It is very much a social network. Gone are the FaceySpaces of pimpin profiles and connections. Ravelry allows fiber enthusiasts to engage other users for patterns, resources, conversation and education. Knitters, spinners, crocheters, felters and more get raveled daily with forums, patterns, and opportunities to share wool with others. The focus is community and not bling, so accessing the community is like having coffee with a group of great friends. There is drama of course, but the fair-minded moderators really try their best to keep that in check. Buzz killers are quickly weeded out of most groups. While serious issues (cancer, parenthood, divorce) are lovingly embraced and support is immediate and genuine.

Niche Social Media.

How can  a private board and community go viral?

Certain patterns create a sensation in the community. When you find a pattern you like, you add it to your que and favorites. This is shown in  your notebook which is like a profile only better. No more apps or tabs to sift through. When multiple users begin adding a pattern to their ques or click to “cast on”  it shows in popularity searches. Soon you are seeing and communicating with others working on the same piece you are. Forums open to patterns, people begin KAL (knit alongs) where they communicate struggles with patterns get help and help others. Crafters tweet, post videos, blog and start discussing this pattern and their knitting guilds join in. Knit nights start jumping on and before you know it LYS have all sorts of related posts on FaceBook and beyond discussing the matter and offering yarn sales. Yarn sales that bring in customers.

Citron by Hilary Smith Callis was one such wonder. It immediately comes to mind because I found it right after it launched when there were only three of us that had it qued. Yes I feel like a proud mama. Soon everyone i knew was on Citron. Its adorable pictures easy pattern and quick knit status soon brought it into fame and everyone had cast on to this little lovely warmer. To date 6140 projects have been qued and completed. 438 blog posts have been written about it. And the buzz on Google during this time was crazy. You could not Google Citron without having the first 20 results be some how Ravelry, Knitty.com or Hilary related. I myself made a million as gifts and to expand my growing knitting experience.

It was also a lesson in how one little thing can catch on and create buzz. We look for keywords and money to stir the Ad Spend bowl. How about a little thing like connection? Corporate America I know can not sit and chat the day away creating relationships, but perhaps dedicating your social business lead to a few hours a week would be a fantastic option. If reading blogs is your hobby as well, you would have seen the articles out this year on managing relationships and creating community. Social Media is a great way to get the word out. Working in that media and functioning as a real person and not a Tweet Bot is vastly different.

Local Yarn Stores while not raking in millions have certainly created community via places like Ravelry. By letting real people engage other real people and take part with each other they are building relationships in niche markets.  Niche allows those drowned in the search engine pool find exactly what they are looking for without having to go back and keyword crack ten times or more because results are heavy with ads. Ads are very important we all know this. Relationships in tough times like these however call to a higher ROI.


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