Trylon Communications  - April 2005
       

The Power of the Long Tail

Discussing a phenomenon known as the Long Tail and its effect on web content providers, Wikipedia states: “Web content businesses with broad coverage like Yahoo!, CNET or even TheStreet.com may be threatened by the rise of smaller Web sites that focus on niches of content, and cover that content better than the larger sites.” The power of blogs is having a similar effect on media sites and consumption.

According to an analysis by David Sifry, founder of Technorati, the most influential media sites remain the most well-funded sites, such as The New York Times and CNN. However, he notes that blogs are gaining currency, based on a new measurement.

According to Sifry, the influence of a particular blog can be measured by the number of people linking to the blog. In his State of the Blogosphere, he notes, “the number of people linking to you is a very powerful measurement of your influence or authority with those people - because if nothing else, those people are spending some attention on you.” When considered, this makes sense. If a number of influential websites link to a particular blog, then the readers of those sites can find the blog through those links.

This measure of influence indicates that traditional media sites – The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Yahoo!, etc. – still lead in influencing people, as they have the most sites linking to them. However, some blogs are beginning to challenge these numbers. Instapundit and Boing Boing are the two top blogs in a recent survey, each of them boasting more links than USA Today, Fox News, Reuters or Salon.com.

Considering that blogging is a relatively new phenomenon, having caught fire just in the last few years, the influence exerted by these weblogs is considerable. Just as important, Sifry notes that many new blogs are gaining traction (See the Technorati Top 100).

“This also has implications for enlightened marketers and media companies,” Sifry notes. “There is power in the conversations going on around you, and not necessarily from the places that you'd ordinarily expect. Companies that work in conjunction with the trends going on in the long tail: e.g. fostering peoples voices, listening to and incorporating their comments and feedback, and fostering a community, have a tremendous opportunity awaiting them.”