“There’s a thread that makes its way through these communities. They often start with a simple idea and a domain name. But as that idea begins to resonate out with a larger and larger group of users, the sands shift, and the community transforms the site from the inside in a sort of symbiotic relationship with the site’s owners.”— A Sense of Community: From Newgrounds to MLKSHK (History Of The Web)
Niche online communities are how I found my way around the web. The same goes for a lot of us older Millennial types.
Whether it was NeoPets or MySpace or Newgrounds — as in the case of this piece from The History Of The Web — these sites were places where we could find other kids who shared our interests.
It’s not so different for the next generation. My friends and I played Warcraft. Now my nephew plays Fortnite. We used AIM and MSN Messenger. Now the kids use Instagram, Discord, and TikTok.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That’s what makes Facebook Groups and Instagram hashtags and Reddit subreddits so potent. They’re a central place — a point of discovery — for people to find others like themselves.
If you intend to put Community Marketing to work for your business, it starts here, by identifying these existing places where the people you want to reach are already coming together.
They’re not places for you to promote or distribute your content. They’re places for you to show up, lurk, listen, and participate.
The more embedded you are within a community, as a contributing member and not as a business with something to sell, the more likely you are to find success.