Officials at eSnips.com are hoping users united by common interests will lure both new members and eCommerce activity to their Web site.
eSnips is a social media sharing site where members can share any digital content they want, including photos, video, text and links.
eSnips is trying to separate itself from the field by allowing users to organize groups around hobbies and subjects of mutual interest—providing a target audience for businesses willing to cater to their needs.
"Its [focused] around interests basically, instead of social networks," said eSnips CEO Yael Elish.
For fans of everything from photography to poetry, eSnips plans to offer centralized communities called MicroPortals where work can be shared and sold.
Unlike other sites, eSnips purposely courts adult users. Some 85 percent of their users are above 20, Elish said. Currently, the site has 1.2 million registered users and some 4 million unique visitors every month, she added.
The company has already launched several MicroPortals on the site and plans to provide users with the capability to create their own in about a month, Elish said. The move, analysts said, follows the trend of users wanting more targeted activity on the Web.
"Mailing lists, bulletin boards and portals, and Web sites sprung up to generally meet users needs, and then—as support technologies become more affordable—fractured into smaller, more targeted services," said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, in Haywood, Calif.
"I expect that trend to hit some social networking sites particularly hard, since the tastes and interests of younger users tend to be volatile, often shifting radically as they age."
The communities are based on a shared tag used by eSnip users to describe the content they have published, such as karaoke or paranormal. In addition to socializing with people with common interests, users can sell items through eSnips Marketplace feature, which allows any user to place an item on sale using their PayPal account.
When the merchandise is also tagged with one of the community tags, it will be displayed in the "for sale" section of that community.
Targeting niche communities online makes perfect sense for businesses, said Jennifer Simpson, an analyst at the Yankee Group in Boston.
The interest-based MicroPortals also provide an easier way for eSnips to increase traffic than if it started out trying to build a broad community, she said.