Given how vast the Internet has become, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that practically anything can be found online, including all kinds of subcultures. Subcultures are essentially small groups of people who are seeking to differentiate themselves from the larger whole. Since social media has become the norm, it’s amazing how much subcultures have gained momentum.
It’s common to assume that subcultures aren’t a major market for most companies. Online apps for shopping, however, have made significant strides. Take Etsy, for example. It only allow vendors to sell handmade or vintage items, both of which can be considered a rather “hipster” subculture. However, retailers on the site made almost $900 million in sales. That doesn’t sound like such a small chunk of the pie anymore, does it?
Etsy is just one place that has dedicated itself to a certain subculture, and in this case, it’s becoming increasingly mainstream. Subcultures around the world encompass everything and anything. You can find Satanism to back piercings, PETA followers to Chuck Norris fanatics. Clearly, some of these groups are going to be more marketable than others, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to.
Social media does a whole lot more for people than simply allowing you to stay in touch with your friends from high school or follow your favorite celebrities on Twitter. It really enables you to connect with other people, regardless of how strange your hobbies or interests are. Even if what you’re going through is something temporary, such as pregnancy or physical therapy, there are other people going through the same things who you can connect with.
This is especially helpful for people with rare diseases. A rare disease catapults someone, unwillingly, into a world they’ve most likely never heard of. Instead of being forced to go through it on their own, or with people who can only watch from the outside, they can now connect with someone else who is going through the same thing, even if that person is on another continent.
Amazingly, this can spawn its own subculture of advocates who work to spread the word about these rare and often debilitating diseases, such as the crusades that are often taken on by Chive Charities. Chive is a social-media site that decided to use its widespread following to do some good.
While taking on causes on an individual basis is a wonderful way to use the power of social media, it can also be used to take advantage of larger causes. This is due to another aspect to subcultures in social media: peer pressure. Sounds odd, but peer pressure is just as prevalent in social media as it is in real life. As such, it stands to reason that if your friends on Facebook are posting about the organic changes they’ve made, you’re more likely to do the same, even if it’s only on a trial basis.
After all, we’ve seen a big increase in green technology, despite the fact that it isn’t sold everywhere. Without an online presence, green products may not have the foothold that they do. Organic lawn care was almost nonexistent 10 years ago, but since it exploded online (thanks in part to Amazon), retailers recognized an untapped market.
It doesn’t really matter what you’re into, what you have or who you’re competing with. Whatever subculture you’re into, be it a raw-food diet or wearing all leather, you can find someone to share your interests. Using social media to track them down and stay in touch is one thing, but you can also use it to gain momentum and find a whole new market. After all, someone is going to find a niche for the next Etsy market. Why not start gathering ideas?
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