When the “Big Bang” of the modern Internet exploded more than 20 years ago, the first set of shockwaves impacted macro sectors like shopping, media and travel. And those shockwaves fundamentally altered the landscape for their offline counterparts.
Fast forward to today, there isn’t a major sector that hasn’t been completed transformed by successive waves of innovation from Web 1.0 to the modern mobile app world.
What happened along the way is that more than 3 billion people are now on the Internet*, and at those numbers, even a small niche represents a very large aggregate community of interest.
Enter the mega niche and the power of passion.
Passion brings people together, and passion creates connections within people that share it in very powerful ways. Today, 3 billion people are finding each other to share their interests with others — in many cases using crude Web 1.0 bulletin boards.
These mega niches aren’t small: some are tens, even hundreds of millions of community members strong. The shared interest that brings them together can be literally anything — cooking, cars, clothes, parenthood, watch collecting, tennis, surfing, skateboarding, home design, bird-watching, a popular podcast.
Giving these groups the power to communicate in the context of their shared interest is tremendously powerful.
Apps that are well-designed and cater exclusively to a mega niche community, away from other, less relevant content, can be captivating to their users. And there are opportunities to create these apps everywhere you look.
Car enthusiast mega niche: An app that connects people who share a love for old Volkswagens, despite those people spanning continents, would be exceptionally valuable and useful for its community. The bulk of the communication in the app would be centered around the topic of the cars the community members are so passionate about, which would keep users engaged. In such an app, communications features would enable community members to teach each other how to perform maintenance, share knowledge, buy and sell goods, exchange stories.
New mother mega niche: An app for new mothers would bring women all over the world together and enable them to share in the experience of motherhood, surely highlighting the similarities in experience regardless of location and also allowing women to benefit from others’ cultural practices. In such an app, communications features would enable community members to exchange experiences with sleep-encouraging practices for newborns, tactics to soothe fussy babies, recommendations about baby products and overall just provide one another support.
Skateboarder mega niche: An app for skateboarders would have potential to connect as many as 14M skateboarders in the U.S. alone. For app creators seeking to build a viable, sustainable app, that’s 14M people who want to engage around the topic of skateboarding. They want to learn how to do tricks, share commentary on a pro’s performance at the X Games, chat about their experience with a new deck.
Watch collector mega niche: An app for watch collectors would allow the small but exceedingly committed group of enthusiasts to share in their passion for watches. In such an app, communications features would allow users to exchange reviews, debate over minute mechanical and stylistic details in watches, discuss watch care and optimization.
For app creators, these mega niches are highly engaged and monetizable.
The interest within the mega-niche communities is extremely focused, therefore the content in such apps would be exceedingly consistent and on-topic. Bringing these like-minded people together, and allowing them to communicate in the context of their shared interest, provides great value and utility to an app’s users.
There’s a mega niche of people who like pretty much anything and everything. Every subreddit could, and should, be an app.
Many of these apps currently give their users information/content, but don’t provide them any way to communicate with one another. Imagine how much more engaging and useful these apps could be if they allowed their users to connect with one another.
Apps that serve mega niche communities have the potential to foster extremely meaningful communications, with an exceptionally high signal-to-noise ratio.
Facebook has 1.3 billion users, which makes it one of the largest online communities in the world. But Facebook users’ only shared interest, presumably, is the people they communicate with through the app.
We’ve all seen evidence of the need for some sort of segmentation, or proof that some passions and interests would be better shared in a mega-niche community instead of a general one like Facebook. Take the Superbowl, for example. Non-football fans quickly become exhausted of mentions of the sport and long for a way to mute them in their feeds. At the same time, however, we see the NFL app’s numbers skyrocket during the Superbowl, proving how engaging an app that connects members of the football mega-niche community can be during such a relevant event.
Layer gives app creators all of the tools necessary to build the right native, in-app communications experiences for mega niches that are centered around any shared interest. We give you open-sourced UI components and features like text chat, video chat and messaging that supports any payload. We give you powerful-out-of-the-box push notifications, and typing indicator and read receipts so you can bring your mega niche together and give them a sense of presence in their conversation.
As always, we can’t wait to see what you build with Layer.