Exactly what vertical networks mean for future years of social media

Picture this: You are given the opportunity to share a presentation on something you’re absolutely obsessed with. You could practically talk about it in your rest, if you had to.

Would you rather give that will presentation in front of a arena of random people or a cozy conference room full of fellow fanatics?

This premise is essentially the situation for the growing number of top to bottom networks that are taking off on the web. It’s simple, but it is sensible. It’s more fun to talk about the things you love with other people that appreciate them, too.

Vertical social networks aren’t overnight sensations. If you look closely, online communication preferences have got hinted that this was arriving all along. Understanding what these niche social media systems say about the future of social media as a whole can help marketing experts stay ahead of the trend contour.

But first, what are vertical networks?

Vertical social networks are market social media platforms centered around the interests of hyper-specific neighborhoods. Think gamers, neighbors, book lovers—there’s even one designed for procurement and provide chain professional s .

These networks give audiences a chance to connect with like-minded individuals in a more private, focused establishing. We’ve seen social trending this way for the past few years. Daily people are taking their posting habits away from main feeds and into more personal options, like subreddits plus Facebook Groups . This trend is really a callback to social media ancestors—think forums and chat rooms—with a much more modern look.

Vertical social networks are the next evolution in the never-ending quest for more curated on the internet content experiences. These platforms create digital clubhouses that allow people to create deeper connections over shared interests.

Examples of vertical social networks

Even if you’re new to the world of vertical social networks, chances are you probably belong to one. They’ve become created in hobby culture, with many springing up to support passions ranging from common to specific niche market. Quite a few have even achieved household name status. Here are a few you may have heard about:


Letterboxd is a social film diary exactly where users can rate, review and tag films as they watch them. Co-founded by Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow in 2011, system is home to both cinephiles plus casual viewers who use it for recommendations from close friends and Letterboxd influencers.

Three screenshots of the Letterboxd App (the movie detail page, the popular film feed, and a user's watch history)

Although the platform has operated for more than 10 years, it reached new levels of recognition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Energetic Letterboxd member accounts nearly doubled , jumping from 1 . 7 million to 3 million member accounts within a calendar year.


Think of Nextdoor being an always-on alternative to a town hall meeting. This hyper-local social networking service is designed to link communities so people can build real-world connections along with neighbors and local companies.

An iPhone screenshot of a NextDoor group called

Since launching in 2011, Nextdoor has expanded the presence into more than 285, 000 neighborhoods globally. In 2022, the platform announced that it will be rolling out new advertising tools for small plus medium-sized businesses.


When you have ever seen a screenshot of a recorded run on the friend’s Instagram story, it is likely from Strava. Strava is an exercise tracker that will doubles as a niche social networking network for running plus cycling enthusiasts. Logged workouts are shared publicly in the feed, where followers can provide “Kudos” by liking articles.

A screenshot of a Strava demo user profile.

Similar to Letterboxd, the platform experienced remarkable growth during the pandemic. Now, more than two million users log on every month to share and compare workout routines, from casual runners in order to Tour de France bike riders.

What do vertical networks say about the long term of social media?

These niche social networks may have relatively small user bottoms, but their recent rise in reputation speaks volumes about where the overall industry is going. Here’s what you need to know.

People are turning to interpersonal to build new connections

The emergence of vertical networks can be seen as an attempt to replace something that was not often thought about pre-pandemic but is now sorely missed: casual friendships .

In the absence of regularly shared spaces like office kitchens, coffee stores and gyms, many people possess fallen out of touch with everyone that existed in the space between “stranger” plus “close friend. ” Today, people are looking to remake plus rebuild those connections on-line.

It’s simply no coincidence that platforms such as Letterboxd and Strava increased in popularity in 2020. Sustained interest in these platforms means that people are still looking at them to rebuild social sectors online and off.

Major networks are relocating quickly to keep up

There’s no first-mover advantage in social. Major systems are always researching competitor efficiency so they can perfect it plus roll it into their products. We saw it take place in 2021 when Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all of rolled out audio-first features to compete with then up-and-comer Clubhouse . Vertical social networks will be simply no different.

Networks such as Twitter and Instagram are already experimenting with features focused on deepening engagement between like-minded customers and subcultures. In 2021, Twitter even announced the particular launch of Communities , which serve as small, dedicated spaces to connect over shared interests at the platform.

Social media marketing marketers will need to rethink network goals

Because networks continue to roll out community-focused features, marketing teams will have to prioritize ruthlessly. More functions mean more social obligations. It’s unrealistic to think that the team of one or two can manage multiple network presences that feed into brand awareness, revenue plus community engagement goals. That’s a recipe for burnout .

If you’re working with restricted resources (people or otherwise), take time to dig into what your audience is responding to by network. You might find that your brand community is generating the most engagement on Facebook, but deals and bottom-funnel content generate the most grip on Instagram.

Sprout Social's Post Performance Report, which provides an analysis of top-performing social posts across network.

This particular data will give you insight into what you should double down on and what can move to the backburner. If you discover that you have more engagement possibilities than your team are designed for, it’s time to make the case for expansion .

Straight networks say a lot as to what audiences want on interpersonal

The internet marketers who listen will be able to effectively future-proof their strategies. A lot more people turn to smaller, more private social media platforms for making connections, social giants will need to roll out new features to maintain. Operating with this foresight can help marketers reorient their social priorities around what will make the most impact on their brands.

If it seems like your own audience is hungry to get more tailored online experiences, now is the time to focus on community. Strengthen your community management strategy to bring the most value to your supporters and fans.

The post What vertical networks indicate for the future of social media appeared first on Sprout Interpersonal .

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