Digi Campfires: Small Platforms Go Big
As users re-evaluate relationships with connection, privacy and consumption, we are seeing a shift from media conglomerates to niche networks and small-scale interaction.
The nature of getting together is undergoing fundamental change. So, how are brands operating in this new climate?
1. Interest-based communities
While Gen Z'ers have carved out niches on established platforms for years - see #Cottagecore and Snap Minis - a wave of new players specialising in small-scale connection is emerging.
Fable.co describes itself as the book club app for social reading. The app’s virtual Reading clubs revolve around curators, including TikTokers @aymansbooks and @theliterarylesbian. Every month, users receive curated Fable Folios with literature selections to fit their mood and interests.
Co-Star is an AI-personalised social experience bringing astrology to the forefront. According to its creators, the platform aims to build ‘a shortcut to real talk in a sea of small talk’.
On Stage32, creatives and professionals in film, TV and digital content worldwide can chat and connect, while Indie Hackers caters to developers and entrepreneurs.
2. Direct-to-Creator Networks
The creator economy is now an established cultural avenue with the power to influence consumer behaviour. And while giants like Meta are still testing creator-friendly features like in-app currency (see ZuckBucks), smaller platforms have nimbly occupied the space.
On Fanhouse, creators can monetise their social media personalities by posting freely about their lives instead of publishing product partnerships or functional content. Fans can interact with creators and each other through the Fanwall and Housechat features.
Sunrooms is a social network committed to frictionless creator support. Using an in-app currency called Beams and its Cheers button (a nod to Facebook’s Like), users can pay for monthly memberships and tip creators. The app has deployed anti-screenshot technology to prevent original content theft and offers reduced service fees for Black, Hispanic and indigenous creators to reduce the racial wage gap. Sex-work activist Aella and actress and podcaster Paige Elkington, artist and model Charlie Max and actress and model Marta Pozzan are part of their first cohort of creators.
Triller advertises itself as an entertainment platform built for social video creators, including star users Josh Richards, Charli D'amelio, Noah Beck and Tyga. Unlike TikTok, where users must use an editing toolkit, Triller deploys AI to create professional-looking videos. Their tagline is, ‘You do you, Triller does the rest.’
What does this mean for brands?
Expand your reach by experimenting with niche platforms. Follow your audiences’ passion points and experiment creator-led media or social communities formed around shared interests.
Enable intimate micro-interactions between consumers and your brand. Start by using native tools on high-reach platforms like Instagram Polls or TikTok challenges.
Monitor mindshare cultural moments and participate in the conversation or platform creative partners or third-parties as appropriate.
Use your social media channels to centre consumers. Enable them to thrive as creators and forge connections on platforms like TikTok or Triller.