How to Select Social Networks by Vertical Industry Sector

By Jan Zimmerman, Deborah Ng

Whether you’re marketing B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), you can find dozens of industry- or interest-specific social networks. Search online for communities in your industry. As long as the social network is large enough to support your time investment and continues to attract new users, you should enjoy enough of payback to make your effort worthwhile.

Vertical industry sites, other than shopping, are particularly appealing for B2B marketers. If you use some adroit maneuvering, you can intersect with the sales cycle, reaching the appropriate decision-maker with the right message.

For the retail community, the growth of social shopping sites is a new avenue to reach consumers who want to spend after they see what everyone else is buying. Users flock to these sites for the latest product reviews, real-time deals, and news about the hottest items.

Track results so that you can decide which sites work best for you. If a site doesn’t produce leads or sales after a few months, find another.

If you want to promote your products or services to more than one online community, customize your profiles and messages accordingly. For instance, a sporting goods store might promote camping gear on a social network for backpackers and running gear on one for joggers.

The list of vertical market social networks seems endless and ever changing. This table provides a sample of some of these networks just to give you an idea of the range. This list does not include blogs, bookmarking sites, or news aggregators.

Vertical Market Social Networks
Website Description
ArtSlant Contemporary art network with profiles for artists, art professionals, art organizations, and art lovers
DeviantArt Post and share original artwork
CarGurus Automobile community with reviews, photos, and opinions
Motortopia Community for lovers of cars, motorbikes, planes, and boats
Goodreads Book recommendations to share
LibraryThing Book recommendations and online catalog
Design Float web design-related content sharing, advertising, digital art, and branding
Care2 Eco-friendly lifestyle site
Make Me Sustainable Environmental community
TreeHugger Environmental topics at interactive community
CreateSpace Creation, collaboration, and distribution for writers, musicians, and filmmakers
Fanpop Network of fan clubs for television, movies, music, and more
Flixster Movie lovers community
Last.fm Music community
Mediabistro Careers and community for media professionals
Myspace Social networking site for music entertainment
Pandora Music community
Spotify Music community
PatientsLikeMe Patients, healthcare professionals, and industry organizations making connections
Sermo Physician community
Lawyrs.net International social networking community for lawyers and law students
Care2 Online community for people passionate about making a difference
ChangingThePresent Nonprofit giving community
Uniteddogs Social networking for dogs and their owners
WellPaw Social pet community
Curiobot Collection of the most interesting items for sale on the Internet
Gilt Flash sales on women’s apparel
Polyvore Product mixing and matching from any online store
Rue La La Flash sales
Stylehive Stylish people connecting
ThisNext Product discovery, recommendations, and sharing
Wanelo Discover and bookmark products
Athlinks Database with all types of sports race results and athlete community
BeRecruited Connecting high school athletes and college coaches
ResearchGate Social network for scientists to connect and make their work more visible

As always, include a link to your primary website and use some of your preferred search terms in your postings and profiles. If these sites have blogs or accept photos, video, or music, you can syndicate that type of content to many sites simultaneously.