Just about every year since 2004, articles have appeared suggesting that 'niche social networks' are something new and the way forward for networking.

So, no - niche social media sites are not the beginning of a new trend...

However, if you have yet to set up your own private or open group which covers one particular topic, niche or target market, then you're missing out on the best fun to be had with Social Media.

At the core of Social Media is the ability to build Community around your brand, expertise, niche, expertise etc., and just like writing a book - hosting/running such a group or community enhances people's perception of you as an expert, leader or indeed a visionary in your field.

Just make sure that you post regularly and consistently - but keeping the quality of your content high.  Initially you may feel that you are shouting into an empty aircraft hangar, but over time, your group will grow - indeed it can reach a point where it becomes a key part of - or even central to your service proposition.  In due course, you can even charge for membership of your group - particularly if it offers a high degree of value to a niche group of people.

In my book LinkedIn Secrets, I talk about how to use LinkedIn Groups in a similar fashion and I give tips on how to engage and add value to your membership.

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LinkedIn Secrets - The Blueprint to Growing your Business with Social Media.