The internet thrives on niches. In the truly open society of the internet, any common cause, shared interest, or obscure topic can target its fandom and have them congregate directly to it without barriers.
But what do you do when your niche isn’t gaining as many community members as it used to attract? Where can you turn to promote your niche website when you are already the big fish in your small pond? How can you get real results without vainly hoping for a front page link on major pages like Digg?
Before consulting these generic options, be sure to spend some time hunting for the Digg equivalent within your niche. Finance websites have Tip’d and Feed the Bull, sports pages have BallHype and ArmChairGM. A good strategy is to find out what references those sites use, and get yourself posted across them.
If your niche spans multiple niches, such as video games and sports, cross-pollinate your content as much as possible.
Metafilter is a great place to start promoting yourself, as long as you do so without crass self-promotion. The community is very active and lively and thrives on finding cool contents related to the subject matter on hand. If you’ve got something truly great to share, the MeFites will become both traffic and signposts to other avenues of publication.
Propeller is very similar to Digg, with a more serious focus, emphasizing politics, current events, finance, and technology topics. It operates with a system much like Digg’s “digg and bury” system, but the community is smaller and more likely to get your content more traffic.
Mixx is a multi-topic social news site. Any blogger can find an appropriate category for content. The best part about Mixx is that you can create groups and associate your content with other people in your niche, enabling everyone to share readers from other communities and help find new references for each other. Mixx is also a sort of social media aggregator, providing another means of integrating your content into the mainstream of social media.
Another generic news community. You probably won’t aim to become a regular feature on Shoutwire if your niche is very small, but it is a good place to try to become the favored expert on a subject. The interface is similar to the rest of the social media news sites, and any topic stands a chance of getting strong attention.
Linkfilter is a more free-form publication venue than the aforementioned, but it has major strengths in that your content can be ranked based on clicks, votes, age, and combinations of those points, giving you better ways to target your particular content. An older article with lots of traffic built over time will have higher ranking than a new article that became a flash in the pan, and less-visited pages with a high vote count will show up as choice options.
Slashdot is well known among the tech community, and is famous for “the Slashdot effect” of killing webpages with traffic. What it is gaining in recent years is a much broader palette for topics; while it used to be a nerdy hideout for the tech obsessed, it has since expanded into a diverse set of venues for publishing on general science topics, literature, political events, as well as its original core in gadgets and technology.
These are the big names in alternative social media. Once you’ve found your niche’s specialty aggregator, these can be used to grow your audience well beyond your initial core niche.
This post is contributed by James, a tech writer and reviewer who works at an online store offering ink cartridges in the UK. Follow their blog for new posts about design, media and marketing.