Big Brands, Smaller Networks

By Carrie Kerpen On yesterday's earnings call, Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that 25 million small businesses have created Facebook pages, with over 1 million of those businesses investing in ads on the platform. It's safe to say that Facebook has matured into a network that is widely used by brands both large and small.

Since brands across the globe are using Facebook and Twitter regularly, and networks like Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram are all gaining steam, it's worth looking at brands that act as "early adopters," those that push forward and hop onto emerging, niche networks. While large networks have the user numbers, smaller networks often have added benefits that can't be matched.
Here are some examples of big brands benefiting from smaller networks:
RedBull & Fitocracy
Fitocracy is a community of people motivating each other to get healthy. After launching in 2012, the site has amassed over 1.5 million users and has a user base that is more engaged than Twitter. Red Bull joined this network early, sponsoring several fitness challenges. By tapping into this niche network, the brand has connected with a community of energy enthusiasts and has reached them in a space that is not littered with brands trying to grab their attention.
Ben and Jerry's & Jelly
Jelly, the new social media network darling founded by Biz Stone, has captured media attention. Ben and Jerry's was quick to hop on the Jelly train, posting images and asking questions. The community responded, but perhaps more important: the marketing world did as well. The brand received press from several publications, garnering buzz across the web, thereby increasing engagement far beyond the average organic level that posts receive on Jelly. Plus, Ben and Jerry's was able to extend this reach to more "traditional" social channels, like Twitter.
Sephora & Google Helpouts
Sometimes all it takes is tapping into a new element of an existing network. Google+ recently launched Google Helpouts, which allow users to demonstrate their skill sets in a broadcast. Sephora was quick to jump in, offering free and paid tutorials on makeup application and other beauty tips, tying a new medium very naturally to the brand. While tutorials can exist with ease on YouTube and other video platforms, using Helpouts makes the experience not only live and interactive, but innovative as well.
What brands have you seen on smaller and emerging networks? Share here!