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Your Marbella And Other Niche Social Networks

Mar 24, 2008
With social networks now proving to be the most trafficked sites on The Internet there is a lot of talk about the success of the next wave of social networking web sites. These have started appearing in many formats, some focused specifically on a niche subject such as animals, or football, and others around a holiday destination or city.

Social networking as we know it on MySpace and Facebook is a great way of meeting people across the globe or catching up with your old school buddies. But... what happens when you move to a new area and want to meet local people? You might check out a few of the local web sites and find out where to go etc but with the advent of social portals, you can meet new people, get involved in the community straight way and find out where to go and more importantly who with.

YourMarbella.com is a great example of this. The site is focused on the Marbella area of Spain, an area synonymous with tourism but also with a high proportion of mainly British ex-pats. Taking the best features of social networking sites and blending them together with the best features of local portals, the site has become the highest trafficked web site in Marbella and Puerto Banus.

Until this point the local portals had the majority of the traffic, however when you blend in the social features, the users can gain a real understanding of what kind of people go to a particular bar or restaurant as opposed to reading an editor review which may or may not be slanted by advertising deals.

Social networking is definitely here to stay, the question is in what guise and how successfully can social features be integrated into other businesses. Taking a look at the computer games companies, most of their work when releasing new titles is involved in how to integrate and grow the community aspect. There is huge value for them in owning communities of people, and with the advent of focused social networks, the marketability and value of the customer database increases dramatically.

An example of this would be to look at, for example an airline. In the UK we have a company called EasyJet who spend a lot of their advertising budget on The Internet. Now when looking at spending their advertising dollars, they will generate a far higher return if they target people who regularly fly abroad and so they will look to spend their money on travel sites and perhaps seek out blogs, forums and yes - niche social networks on which to advertise. If they select a primary social network, they will generate a lot more wastage in their campaign and therefore a lower ROI as the customer base is vast and may or may not be interested in their product. Airlines are one example but there are more companies advertising online each year and everyone is looking for more and more targeted media. This is where the niche social networks will benefit.

Expect a lot more social networking products to be released over the coming years, but watch out for owners working on ways of monetizing them by focusing more on a particular subject or area to as opposed to competing with the big boys for volume.
About the Author
Chris Naylor is a social networking expert in Marbella. Visit YourMarbella.com to gain a better understanding of a social network / portal hybrid. Particularly one focused on Marbella and the Costa del Sol.
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