Established social sites or niche online communities might be sold to specific businesses operating in these niche markets.

Social sites owners will be in the position to ask businesses to pay for social access to online niche communities.

Self-sufficient, niche online communities or social sites are valuable asset, especially if you can create a viable social-business ecosystem around your site. By that I mean that you will be able to attract both consumers or users who will solve their problems by visiting your site, as well as vendors, and others who physically provide solution in this area of expertise.Take for example Risk managers in Financial institutions like in banking or insurance. They need some information to exchange with their peers to do their work better; they also need some input from vendors and recruiters who provide technology or people to these insitutions. If you’re a business and you want to engage in relevant communities, the first step is to find the best communities for your purposes. The niche communities, where your target audience is predominant, are a valuable resource to you. In online advertising, companies pay more to get their message to their target demographic. Likewise, a social community filled with you target demographic is worth a lot. That’s why some companies invest in building their own online networks.

Let’s say that you started a social site for a specific illness such as heart problems. Your goal would be to create a thriving community that is largely self-sufficient with content and engagement coming from members, with little effort on your part.You could find bloggers who write about this illness and you would ask them to guest-post on your social site. You would communicate with practitioners, and other businesses who served heart patients. Perhaps in exchange for participating and contributing regularly to the articles and community questions, you would give them some free advertising on the site—all clearly marked as sponsored ads, of course.

You can also enlist some insurance companies to provide knowledgeable people as resources to answer member questions, so they can direct their own customers to the site for information.

What are the five best tips how to develop your community:

Nurture your community, building out resources and areas on the site, perhaps with help of other people.

You must ensure the content and engagement is not spammy or too self-promotional.

Gather demographic information about your visitors, including demographics specific to heart patients.

Conduct polls, contests, surveys, engage with your community. you will find the percentage who are experiencing any specific behaviour pattern at any given time, the percent with and without health insurance, age and sex, etc.

Ultimately, you will have a fairly self-sustaining community, that isn’t requiring a lot of work on your part to maintain.

Selling your social sites

How much would your community be worth to a research or a medical company that sells drugs to heart patients? Could you sell your community to them, so they could brand the pages themselves? There is a pretty good chance that a pharmaceutical company would be willing to pay a good money for a thriving online community full of patients who are candidates for its drugs.Publishers and domain owners sell their domains all the time. Just like publishers of any kind, the more specific demographic information you have about your audience, the more you can show its value. Likewise, by making a community that sustains itself, you can show the operational costs are low, making it even more valuable.

Restricting access to social sites or online communities

Or, let’s say you don’t want to sell your community. You could certainly charge for advertising space on the pages and also for social access. You should allow only paid product advertisement, or placing company’s logos. You should set your rules for companies even if they pay so that they won't spam your community to death or provide low-quality content. As the community owner, you would have to ensure that even the companies paying for social access use good social media techniques, rather than just advertising through posts. It’s in your best interest to set those limits, in order to maintain the value of your community.Hospitals, large specialty practices, pharmaceutical companies—they all might pay for access to your audience.

How would you charge? I would recommend to charge by the type of content. For example, a post with a link costs less than video links. Contests cost the most. You could charge by volume: posting weekly, versus daily, versus unlimited access. Of course, you'd need the tools to monitor and manage this. In our time when communities become commodities, those tools become more and more affordable.

The people in the communities benefit greatly from a high quality niche online community. The small businesses and individuals who can’t afford to maintain their own blog or forum have easier access to potential customers. Communities that devolve into spam or advertising spaces would quickly lose their members, giving businesses and community owners a reason to serve their members well.

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