Those Old Spice "Look at me—now your man—now back at me" videos were—and the brand continues to be—really, really weird.
But more importantly—they were really, really successful. While their bizarre tone may have turned away viewers who didn't quite "get it," Old Spice's move towards a more particular brand of humor immediately earned the company a legion of brand ambassadors—enthusiasts who can not get enough of the zany antics Old Spice continues to deliver.
It's Not For Everyone (And It's Not Meant To Be)
While it’s not an approach that works for every brand, the trend of targeting niche tastes and communities is winning companies like Denny’s, Redbull, and Converse unprecedented brand loyalty in the digital space. By narrowing the scope of their content to a more specialized sensibility and scope of interests, brands are becoming ingrained and even adored within designated cultures. Redbull and extreme sports have become effectively synonymous, much as Converse has emerged as a staple in the underground music scene.
Why Less Can Be More.
While tailoring content to such a specialized audience may seem counterintuitive—it is, by definition, a willing departure from a more generic, mass appeal—it also lends itself to a backdoor breed of viral marketing. Take the notion of meme culture—what begins as one joke or idea ultimately gains momentum as it’s shared between friends, eventually bubbling into the broader public conscious. It becomes mainstream by way of niche—and those who remain unconvinced need look no further than Buzzfeed’s repackaging of content that originates on Reddit, Tumblr, and just about every other website.
While there’s no clear formula for finding and reaching a niche audience, there are steps you can take to help position your brand to meet a narrower, more dedicated following.
Before publishing a single post, plan the story your brand will tell. Why will people want to see your content? Why will they want to share it? Why will they come back for more? Establish voice frameworks—a high-level overview—but refrain from creating stiff parameters early in the process, as it may actually prevent your brand from evolving naturally to meet niche audiences.
If you become too glued to a concept or strategy that is proving ineffective, you are ultimately squandering the immediate adaptability that digital marketing offers brands in the first place.
2. Loosen up a little
Just as you might grow more cavalier with words after a stiff cocktail, allow your brand to take carefully measured liberties. Without losing track of your larger strategy, explore content that pushes boundaries. Let your brand’s narrative enable and encourage your content, rather than limit it.
3. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?
That isn’t a rhetorical exclamation—but the caps lock does add a fun bit of drama to data analysis.
Experimenting with content is useless without looking at the numbers, which reveal the patterns you’ll need to reach niche audiences. What content is working? Who is engaging with you? And most importantly: How are they engaging?
These questions are the foundation for your brand’s success. When you know more about your audience, you begin to view them less as a generalized mass and more as distinct individuals. People are complicated—they require understanding—but when consumers see that you get what they’re about, their attitudes shift as well. They begin to view your brand less as an interruption to their social feeds and more as an addition to the conversation they’re already having.
4. Stop trying so hard
Have you ever heard your grandparents talk about twitter? Sure, they get it at a conceptual level, but you still cringe every time Grandma says, “hashtag.” So it is with niche communities—trying to blend in too soon may only distance you from the people you’re aiming to engage with. With the data to back you, allow your entry into niche communities to be natural and smooth, with the appearance of effortlessness.
5. Repeat (Sort of)
It’s not as if one step leads cleanly into the next, into the next, and at the end of it, there’s some “now you know your audience” epiphany. This entire process is perpetually in motion. More accurately, steps 2-4 are constantly in progress, all working to strengthen and reinforce what you began in step 1.
And So It Goes...
As much as you might learn about your audience and the content they consume, there is really no ultimate end point to a brand’s evolution. The bane of digital marketing is the constant, quick rate at which things change—and yet the beauty of it is how immediately we can track and adapt to meet these changes as they happen.