If you’re running a small business of nearly any variety, it’s incredibly important to understand who your niche market is. Unless you’re one of the Wal-Marts or Amazons of the world, you definitely do have a niche and being able to define and cultivate it will help you with improving your web analytics, increased sales revenue, and robust brand management. Here are 3 tips for catering to your niche through social media:

Offer promotions, contests and incentives. Creating a verdant garden of discount possibilities, savings, and incentives is one of the best ways to cater to your niche. In short, people like getting stuff for free. They also like to compete for free things, so hosting contests on your social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, is a great idea for creating an online stir. Have a logo design contest, or a viral video contest and host it through YouTube. Inviting user generated art and design can be a tremendous boon. Also, promote your brand on Foursquare, where you can offer discounts on products in exchange for check-ins.

Promote valuable independent resources. Customers respect a company or site that is not afraid to refer to others. For example, if you’re running an online education forum and your site lacks decent tutorials, you should provide links to great sites that do have tutorials such as the Khan Academy or Open Culture. Not only will this enhance your community, it can lead to you getting linkbacks, blogroll features, and considerable street cred. There’s always the opportunity that later on you will be to partner with these other sites in a way that is financially agreeable to both of you. In short, put your money where your mouth is—if you claim to be “the leading authority on…” don’t tolerate obvious gaps in your knowledge base.

Use media effectively. Consider having a YouTube video of the day that is relevant to your niche. See the previous tip about viral video contests. Many companies use online video as vehicle for ingenius marketing campaigns in which the consumer ends up doing your marketing for you. Or consider having a photo contest through Tumblr, Flickr, or Imgur.  Beyond just video and photos, investing in some research as to what kinds of visual aesthetics your niche prefers can go a long way. You don’t have to get too psychological about it, but your website and company ethos should appeal visually and emotionally to the demands of your community. For example, if your niche is science fiction, a general space-age aesthetic wouldn’t be too cheesy would make your fans feel at home.

Appealing to your niche market is one of the most important elements of running a small business. Investing considerable effort and resources into defining who your niche is and how you will reach them is an excellent idea for the present and future.