5 Social Networking Sites You Probably Never Heard Of

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Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr. That’s the extent of social networking, right?

Well, it may seem that way, but that’s not the case. There are hundreds of social networking sites out there. A lot of them are for niche interests or niche purposes, such as religion, politics, family, etc. A few of them are dying breeds, like Friendster and MySpace (although they still make the top 15 on social networking sites). A few others are also Facebook and Twitter wannabes who will never quite make it. But, we don’t talk about those.

Branching out into those niche sites may be a good thing for your business, especially if one of these sites serves some, or all, of your target demographic. Here are five of those sites, and the types of businesses that might be interested in having a presence on them:

Etsy – This is a good one for small and micro businesses who make their own products by hand (food doesn’t count), sell vintage products, or commercial and handmade supplies. Businesses who sell handmade products that are made by others don’t count on Etsy. Etsy is a community and marketplace for crafters, where folks can join and sell things as well as buy things. Members can find just about anything on Etsy, as well as browse for things by category, color, or the recently listed. If hipsters and crafters are part of your target market, then Etsy is the place you should be selling your product.

Meetup – If your business sponsors a lot of events, whether they are webinars, open houses, fundraisers, or seminars, then you ought to be on Meetup. Meetup allows members to organize events and RSVP to others. Watch the “Recent RSVPs” column on the home page, and you’ll see a new RSVP every second. Not bad if you want a few people to come to your events.

Care2 – This is a social networking site about green living, so if your business has anything to do with green products or going green, then this is the site for you. Care2 is an excellent place to connect with potential customers about your green product or your green initiative. If your business has a blog that covers green topics, this would be a good place to share them as well. There’s even a place where you can post job openings.

Fuzzster – Pet lovers and pet-anything businesses need to be on Fuzzster. Use it as a place to introduce animals who need a home, or your latest grooming masterpiece. Members can connect with other pet lovers, or connect pets with other pets. In the case of businesses, animal-related enterprises can connect the animals with blogs, or use the “Random Fuzzster” feature to find folks who are looking for a new friend.

Ning – If you can’t find a niche social network out there that’s suitable for your business, then you can create your own on Ning. The social website firm also found in its most recent research that it only takes about 20 people to have an active, online community. If you just so happen to have 20 fans on Facebook, then create a page on Ning and tell them to join you there. After all, when it comes to social networking, what counts is the action and engagement, not necessarily the numbers.

Social media and social networking are about going where your customers are going. If they’re congregating on these niche sites because that’s the interest they have, then you need to be there too. If your business shares that interest, then why shouldn’t you be there? Designate a person to connect on these sites, or simply include it as part of your social media marketing strategy.