Community Connect is a small, rapidly growing social networking company that has built three MySpace-like sites,
These social networking sites target Latinos, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans, respectively. Together, Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans make up about 33% of the total U.S. population, according to 2005 U.S. Census numbers.
And all three groups continue to migrate online. According to researcher Forrester, 86% of Asian-Americans are online, 56% of African-Americans are online, and Latinos, at 45%, are currently undergoing the fastest online migration. The sites have a total of some 16 million registered users.
When Community Connect launches its gay and lesbian-targeted site, Glee.com, by the end of 2006, the company's target market will grow by 40 million to 50 million, which is the estimated U.S. gay and lesbian population.
Community Connect will launch another niche site geared toward evangelical Christians -- scheduled to launch in early 2007.
Social networking is still in its "primordial ooze phase" and the business niche will continue to develop differentiation. Even the big players will veer away from serving the masses. More and more competitors will work to super-serve the needs of the niche groups.
OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
Facebook is a social networking site for college and high-school students. In 2006 they launched a new feature that allows members to access the site from mobile phones.
SimplyHired.com, a job-hunting site with a strong social-networking component. SimplyHired searches the Internet for job listings at every place from competing job boards like Monster to the help-wanted section of hiring firms' own Web sites and aggregates them on its site. It gets its revenue from selling paid-search ads, both through Google and other ad networks and through its own sales force.
THE MARKETING OPPORTUNITY
Monster.com had been unable to help its thousands of corporate clients develop diversity recruitment programs, since isolating minority applications would violate equal opportunity law. By partnering with Community Connect, Monster was able to secure résumés for clients from a database of job-seekers, 95% of whom were minorities
Advertisers are increasingly drawn to niche sites where they can find a dedicated audience willing to engage with their products and services.
There's a practical reason advertisers are attracted to niches -- they mirror the real world. "Brands visible in neighborhoods are the brands that fare the best—those that participate, that don't come off as profit-hungry corporate giants trying to make money," says Thompson, director of interactive services for UniWorld Group, which handles online advertising for AstraZeneca, Ford, Lincoln, Burger King, and HSBC Bank.
After 10 years in business, helping underserved communities connect is paying off.
Isn't it amazing how many "ten-year" overnight success stories there are?!