27.4.07

Social Networking: Tailing The Long Tail

The proliferation of blogging communities is amazing since "social networking" and "social media" became catchphrases after Rupert Murdoch snatched up MySpace.

The signs are everywhere that these two catchphrases are the next big thing in online communications, if not, they are already here.

A recent iProspect study reveals that "social networking users are growing at an accelerated rate."

The study says: "One in four Internet users visits a social site at least once a month, and that figure only looks to increase over the next several years. The Internet is shifting from a medium of information to one of participation..."

So, it's no surprise by now that more and more bloggety kind of communities are sprouting. MyBlogLog is a good example. There are others like StumbleUpon, FuelMyBlog, BumpZee, SpicyPage, Bloggst and a host of other sites working along the same line with some variations.

Not because they want you and I to sign up and start posting ourselves silly in forums, but there's the potential of business benefits down the pipeline. Shades of Yahoo buying up MyBlogLog and Google gobbling up YouTube.

Some will see success while others may drop out by the wayside. The multitude of bloggers will decide who are the eventual winners and losers.

There's so much going-on in this so-called Blogosphere that Internet marketers like e-book and e-mail merchants, and other "old school" practitioners are looking at themselves and asking the question: "Is this the death of Internet marketing?"

The heat is on.

Niches are where the action is...right down the Long Tail. As expounded by author Chris Anderson in his book, there are three driving forces that represent a new set of opportunities in the emerging Long Tail marketplace.

They are:
  • Democratize Production
  • Democratize Distribution
  • Connect Supply and Demand

What sparked blogging in the first place? According to Anderson in his book, democratized tools started it with "the arrival of simple, cheap software and services that made publishing online so easy that anyone could do it."

E-business is definitely evolving and the key factor is the increasingly important role played by the Blogosphere. For sure, as one expert puts it: "It's a virtual hotbed of information dissemination."

It has opened up a free, democratic market for all and sundry to grab a piece of the action. Anderson writes in The Long Tail that "amateur blogs are sharing attention with mainstream media, small-time bands are releasing music online without a record label, and fellow consumers dominate online reviewing."

And the iProspect study on how social networks have changed the way consumers respond to marketing messages indicates that although it's still early days for social networking, "one out of three Internet users is already taking advantage of a site containing user-generated content to help make a decision to buy, or not to buy something."

"This bodes well for the future of these sites that take advantage of our human nature to trust the recommendations (and warnings) of fellow consumers more than we do the claims and 'marketing-speak' of professional marketers," says the study.

Alas, in a nutshell, individual bloggers can set up sites, publish content, drive traffic and establish links to move up the ranking ladder. And, thereby, put themselves in a position to monetize their blogs like landing ads and qualifying for better sponsored reviews payment and so forth.

You, the blogger, now has a voice that can be heard. Innovative and creative ideas are being generated...and they are evolving. Who knows? The next most talk-about business model may be just around the corner.

*BlogView by Mark Khoo*

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