Creating a Successful Social Network

October 4th, 2006 | Categories: social media, strategy, trends

With social networks like MySpace, Facebook, hi5, and Friendster dominating the market, how does one go about competing against these giants? Simple. You don’t.

The social network (SN) space is so crowded right now that adding another generic entry into the mix will accomplish nothing. So then, what do you do? Once again, it’s simple. Choose a niche.

Here’s a phrase I like to use that others believe to be true as well: “There are no niches on the Internet.” Although, this sounds contrary to my previous statement above, it’s all about perception. A niche topic such as “parenting” sounds like a very narrow topic, but on a worldwide scale, the target audience is immense. This is why I say to choose a niche, although there really aren’t any on the net.

Parenting? And a social network? That sounds ridiculous. Not necessarily. Just ask Minti. This small start-up out of Australia is generating huge amounts of traffic and interest from many parent-centric companies, such as diaper and baby food companies. In addition, the company has been approached by several large conglomerates and known consumer brands as a potential takeover target and doorway to a valuable market.

Another such niche success story is Sneakerplay. Branded as a social network “designed specifically for the global sneaker culture”, this shoe destination is already receiving attention with relatively low traffic. Because it is so lucrative to sneaker companies and the audience is a perfect advertising match, Sneakerplay was recently approached by Nike as a partner. Not only are they receiving top dollar for their ad placements, but they are proving out their model with credible industry players. In addition, the site becomes an instant potential takeover target for any large shoe company (i.e. Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and the list goes on).

Finally, we can add Facebook to this list. I won’t go into much detail about this play as it isFacebook logo already well known. Obviously, the company has taken a university/college niche approach to the social network game, which has proven to be extremely successful.

So what are the advantages of the niche approach? There are several. The most important being:

  • Higher CPMs and ad dollars due to narrow target market
  • Instant takeover target for large offline industry players
  • Lower competition due to niche area

Having said all this, don’t rush out and start your own SN without doing the necessary market analysis and due diligence. A little bit of research goes a long way and may save you time in the long run.

So what’s your niche?


  1. rj Says:

    Thanks for noticing the little guy!

  2. Aidan Says:

    No problem RJ. Good luck and keep up the good work.

    Be sure to send me updates. Cheers.

  3. Michelle Says:

    Great article, I think niche sites like for families (all in flash, very slick) or (myspace for latinos) are smart enough to carve out a slice of the pie, which is bigger than people realize.

  4. Matt Says:

    Hi Aiden,

    Thanks for the mention of Minti and although we are not getting quite as many approaches as a “take-over” target as you seem to suggest it has been an interesting year since we came up with the idea.

    Minti is the first of several verticals we plan to launch in the next few months and we are also open to licensing our backend “ranked advice community” software code via an API for those wanting to create a new niche or convert an existing Web 1.0 type community. People can visit the Vice Capital website ( to find out more contact details.

    Thanks again for the positive write-up !

    Matt - Minti Co-founder

  5. Aidan Says:

    Thanks for the comments Michelle and Matt :)

  6. justin Says:

    i have a good idea for a sn where and how would i start to build one?

  7. Sneakerplay: The social network for sneakers? | James Little @ Says:

    […] The article is two years old… Creating a Successful Social Network […]

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