Unlike conventional, horizontal social networks, vertical social networks appeal to specific niches, such as parents, students, gamers, and others.
These types of social networks offer a level of connectivity among their communities that their users may not find elsewhere. Brands should keep an eye out for these networks as they continue to expand and multiply among different audiences. They're becoming increasingly popular as people seek more personalized online experiences that allow for deeper and more personal connections.
On other types of social platforms, users may simply get lost and feel disconnected because of irrelevant content that doesn't apply to them. Conversely, they'll feel more engaged and connected with a platform that's consistently relevant to them and their passions.
Brands can create or keep an eye on vertical social networks to gain a deeper understanding of their prospective and existing customers.
Brands benefit from vertical social networks because of the ability to more directly connect with audiences and reach out to them. They can observe how members of their audience connect with each other and learn from this communication. Additionally, they can engage with people and gain a better understanding of them while showing that they value their audience's input.
Some of the specific benefits of vertical social networks for brands include the following:
Currently, there are many vertical social networks out there for you to target as a brand. If they don't exist and you are passionate about a specific niche, you can even create one that connects with your audiences.
Here are some examples of popular vertical social networks that appeal to audiences of all kinds:
Many creative people can get together on Behance to connect on a professional or even personal level. Web designers and graphic artists are among the platform's many users, and they can share their latest designs whether for building a portfolio or simply to showcase their talents. People can like each piece that people share, hire the designer behind it, save the work, and view the specific tools used to create the piece. Users can also follow each other to stay updated whenever the creator uploads a new piece.
This is another platform worth mentioning, as it's one of the first big vertical social networks out there. Using Meetup, people can connect and, as the name would suggest, meet up either in person or in a virtual meetup.
Users on Meetup often connect because of certain shared interests, professions, and hobbies. It's essentially a great place to meet friends and build long-term connections. Meetups could connect individuals or entire groups—for instance, someone might be looking for someone to talk with about a particular topic one-on-one, while another might look for a book club in town to participate in.
Movie fans often use Letterboxd to rate and review the latest films they saw. They can also use this platform to check off lists of movies they've wanted to see but haven't had a chance to in a kind of film bucket list. In addition, users can create custom categories and genres for films.
Like Behance, Dribbble is a great platform for visual creators. However, unlike Behance, you can also view and publish animations in addition to still designs and art. This platform is great for building a portfolio and showing off your designs and animations, including mobile and print media.
For people in the fashion industry or who are simply passionate about beauty, Supergreat offers a great network to share beauty videos of all types. What makes Supergreat unique is its product-centric videos. Every video on Supergreat features a single highlighted product with a corresponding product page. On this product page, users can learn more about it and instantly buy it through the network.
One benefit for users is the ability to accumulate points by watching and producing beauty videos of their own. They can then redeem these points to save on various beauty products.
BlogHer offers a reliable content creation platform for women. What started as a conference has since blossomed into one of the best platforms for women entrepreneurs from bloggers and social media influencers to vloggers and marketers. Women can learn all the secrets they need to succeed in their industries and connect with others in their industries. Users can also attend live and virtual events that BlogHer hosts to echo its conferencing history.
People who want to get into or are all about do-it-yourself projects can turn to Instructables for some tips and guidance. Whether users want to learn how to repair a broken appliance, install a new addition to their home, or learn a new recipe, Instructables makes it easy to connect with skilled users who craft their own tutorials. Users can also share their own little inventions and include guides on how to make them, and Instructables even holds contests for users to submit their projects to and enter to win a prize.
Professionals in the interior design or architecture space can connect with each other and potential customers on Houzz. Users on this platform can connect with other professionals in their respective industries to discuss ideas and potentially work together.
Meanwhile, people seeking professionals for projects such as bathroom and kitchen remodels can find the right professionals for the job in their areas. They can also shop for all types of products for the home, including furniture pieces, lighting fixtures, storage units, decor, and more.
Where Letterboxd is a home for movie lovers, avid readers can connect on Goodreads. Using Goodreads, people can review the books they've recently read or explore some of their favorites. They can also connect with their friends and others who are into similar literature and follow each other's reading progress. In addition, readers can share their notes and highlights in books, with some authors even using this feature to add some annotations to their digital books.
Every year, Goodreads also allows users to set a reading goal that keeps them consistently engaged and working toward their goal, tying it in with New Year's Resolutions.
Communities can connect through Nextdoor, which puts neighbors in touch with each other. Neighborhoods no longer need to communicate directly in person when they can easily find each other online using this platform.
Using Nextdoor, members of a particular community can reach out to others to provide or request updates regarding the happenings in town, report suspicious activity and request more information about it, buy and sell various items, request recommendations for local services, and more.
All users must sign up on Nextdoor using a valid home address, which allows for a hyperlocal experience. Brands that are selling to these neighborhoods can easily integrate into them with locally targeted ads on this platform.
If IT experts are looking for a place to hang out with others in their field, Stack Overflow provides them with the perfect environment. It's especially helpful for people who need some assistance with certain tasks or knowledge about a specific topic in the IT industry. IT professionals can instantly connect with others and work together to solve problems, share their experiences, and more.
Of course, the platform is equally useful for people who aren't in this industry. Experiencing an IT issue of any kind? Find the experts you need for assistance through Stack Overflow. Experts can explain certain concepts and help you resolve certain issues or understand certain concepts that you might want to learn as an amateur.
Fitness fanatics and those merely looking to live a healthy lifestyle can benefit from Strava. The platform boasts itself as the world's largest sports community where millions of athletes can connect on an international level. Specifically, athletes can use Strava to record runs and many other types of workouts and track their progress as they work toward a goal. People can share screenshots of their sessions and metrics on other platforms like social media and can hold discussions with other users. They also gain access to exclusive tips and articles that help them further achieve their goals.
If you want to get into vertical social networks as a brand, you must know how to approach these platforms and their users correctly. If you can take the time to connect with vertical social networks properly, you'll be able to build better relationships with these communities and get the best results from them.
The following are some tips to help you take full advantage of vertical social networks for your business:
It's not enough to jump into a vertical social network and communicate with its users—you need to understand the platform and community first. Take time to conduct some research into the potential community and learn what it's all about. Think about the kind of language the community uses and the specific content that people enjoy. Based on this initial research, you can determine how best to approach the community and which types of content to share with it.
While you might have an idea of what kind of content resonates with a platform's users, you don't want to focus on promotional content. To gain users' trust and truly integrate yourself into the community, contribute to discussions and bring real value to the community. Share your expertise in a certain niche or specific ideas through genuine interaction. This will go a long way in winning people over and building positive brand recognition.
You can also carry what you learn through vertical social networks over to your other existing social media channels. For instance, you could use what you learned in one community to create relevant posts on Facebook and other platforms that speak to that particular niche.
If you have the tools and resources, you could also create a vertical social network for your brand. If you target a particular segment that doesn't have a defined community of its own on another platform, why not make your own? You can dedicate part of your website or app to this community, or you can create an entirely separate platform under your brand. You can get ideas for this community by asking for input from customers within this niche and using it to create the ideal experience.