After onboarding an ice machine client, one of my colleagues walked away with more knowledge about ice distribution than I ever thought possible. Some marketers work for more obscure industries than others.
Here’s a breakdown of niche social networks for marketers who need to get a better feel for business-related issues and get inspiration to fill their clients’ needs.
The public sector faces considerably more challenges than the private sector. GovLoop is a discussion-based community built around four different categories: careers, communications, human resources and technology. This is the description for the communications section:
Good communication is necessary for good government. From social media to communication theory, this is the place to discuss all things communications, public affairs, citizen engagement and customer service.
That section has events, guides, blog articles, jobs, news, and discussions. It’s a great place to ask questions and introduce problems that you’re having in regard to launching campaigns for government offices.
The emphasis of LawLink is networking, where lawyers, law students, and industry experts can connect. There’s also a section foron expert witnesses with debates and suggestions about who can be called and why or why not.
Some clients have expansive approval processes through murky legal departments. If you have an idea that you’re unsure about, run it by them to see if it would be approved by legal.
This network requires an invitation, but opens up law resources from over 40 countries. It filters through top legal stories in the news and hosts forums about the bar and how law school is evolving.
This is a valuable resource not only for marketers targeting HR professionals or working in the HR industry, but for start-ups needing quick HR advice. It has an extensive list of forums that cover everything from organizational development to work/life balance.
PR professionals: use this as a resource in a crisis. Look over steps for leadership, core values, and best practices when trying to bring a company together.
This network is a quick way to learn what plagues CEOs and large-business owners. They host multiple round tables each month with topics filtered in categories like finance, operations, and technology. This is ideal if you prefer listening to debates and discussions about best business practices instead of reading about them.
The hardest part of this social network is getting in. LinkedIn is for the common man, Elixio is limited to 14,000 business professionals and only the most elite get accepted. If you can join the network then you will have a window into a level of business you’ve never had before. Emphasis on the phrase if you can join.
The Flipping Pad
This site is broken down by city, which lets real estate agents ask questions that pertain to their specific area. For example: Florida insurance rates are through the roof because of hurricanes and sinkholes. Real estate agents can network and talk about solutions to keep buyers interested in the state.
Here are the demographics provided for Atlanta:
ActiveRain provides training for real estate professionals and has a collection of blog articles that covers topics and problems in the industry. How often should I send marketing emails? Real estate agents have the same problems that most of us do — except with more barriers. Does it behoove real estate agents to push out emails during a certain part of the year as opposed to general marketers? You have to visit the site to find out.
Purple is broken into three categories: hotels, people, and providers. It’s meant to help hotels and service providers share ideas and connect with frequent hotel users — like business travelers.
When using this social network, you can start to understand what word choice hotel owners prefer when wooing customers and get direct feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
The finance industry can be one of the hardest nuts to crack, especially for marketers who lean more towards the communications side and away from the sales funnel. StockPickr showcases the portfolios of major stock players like Warren Buffett and George Soros to help get your feet wet.
Plus, if you’re really new to the stock market you can try their simulation game: Wall Street Pros vs Main Street Joes.
eToro is stock market version of follow-the-leader. If you learn by case studies, this is the network you want to pay attention to. You can follow — and even copy — the moves of different traders and watch their success and failures in the industry.
If you’re trying to find a cause for you client to get involved with or if you recently started working with a non-profit, Care2 can help you learn about global issues around a myriad of categories ranging from LGBT to education to children to animals and wildlife. You can quickly find a cause to support that ties into your industry.
This is definitely one of the most visually stunning websites listed here. It’s great for inspiration for anything from campaigns that seem too obvious to clients who seem to0 obscure. There are more than 266 million pieces of art and 28 million members, you’re sure to find something.
Connect. Share. Appreciate. With members in 152 different countries and 92 categories of art, there’s something on Touchtalent that anyone can appreciate. If you ever need to take a creative break, or get inspired by little-known artists, log in here.
Designers: this is just the tip of the iceberg for inspiration. Josh Kunzler created a more comprehensive list of sites for design inspiration last month.
This one might be cheating a little bit. Yammer is an internal social network for your company. In a world where email is considered formal communication, social networks are propelling office dialogues.
Yammer has been used by large corporations that have offices in multiple states to connect employees and make project collaboration easier. It’s like Facebook, except all the status updates are about projects and company activities.
If you’re not able to find the resources that you’re looking for on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, try going niche. There’s a social network for everything these days and it’s only a matter of time before you’re connected to industry experts — and on your way to becoming an expert yourself.