There has been one over-arching lesson I've learned from my past studies of marketing, PR, journalism and broadcasting...
Know your niche.
It's a simple, yet powerful idea to keep in mind, and one that many people have accused social media powerhouses like Facebook of forgetting as it's made the highly-monitored changes that it has over the past few months.
Well, changes or no changes, social media is becoming more and more of a numbers game, and there's two smaller social networks that for the past 3 years has boasted the most important number: profit.
The pet-based social networks Dogster and Catster have both been profitable for the past couple of years, without making any major changes to either site.
The reason for their success?
Both networks know their niche and have stuck to it, offering lots of pictures (what pet owner doesn't love looking at pictures of other cats and dogs?) and petcare tips.
However, both sites, which are owned by the same company, have undergone complete overhauls.
And while the reaction to the visual redesign will vary from person to person, there are two keys to this overhaul that should be applauded.
First, Dogster and Catster saw that most visitors were coming to the sites for information and pictures rather than the social aspect, so there has been a greater emphasis placed on content.
Secondly, the sites have made some key partnerships with other sites like Petfinder.com, allowing Dogster and Catster users to search the adoptable animals from Dogster and Catster and share their favorites with other users.
Major website overhauls can be risky (just ask Facebook), but I really like what Dogster and Catster have done with their sites because they utilized strategic partnerships with long-term thinking.
More importantly, all of the changes from content to design were done with their audience in mind because they knew their niche.