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Monday, July 31, 2006

Wagging the long tail: Blogging and marketing

Looking at the long tail from the perspective of blog traffic (aka potential to influence public opinion)

Chris Anderson's long tail got a lot of attention lately! (Read Ed Sim's post and Chris Anderson's post to follow the discussion that Lee Gomes sparked with his WSJ article. Don't miss all the comments). Also, Ajit Jaokar recently wrote about how critical it was to monetize the long tail for a startup to be classified as a web 2.0 startup.

My question is on a tangent. Does the blogosphere really have a significant long tail? Or as the perennial question has always been, how long is the tail (when it comes to the blogosphere in our case). Technorati's State of the Blogosphere reports often talk about the number of blogs created and how frequently they're updated etc. and how many survive. Interesting statistics.

However, what I would like to see is that how many blogs are visited and commented upon fairly regularly? That is, going with the long tail questions, what percentage of the total traffic do the top 10% (or top 1000) of the blogs own and how much do the others own. A lot of people believe (and maybe rightly so) that blogging is only big in the blogosphere which is dominated by a certain number of "A level" bloggers. Any data Mr. Sirfy?

So, my question is that if you're into marketing, can you make enough noise by getting those bloggers in the long tail writing about you? Or do you reach more people by getting the top 100 to pay attention? I'm flipping the long tail question i.e., the long tail as presented by Chris Anderson is about the consumers. This is not the long tail as applied to consumers. This applies to influence. Is the collective influence of the bloggers in the long tail comparable to the influence of the "A level" bloggers? As a company are you going to market yourselves by reaching out to the most influential (the head) or are you going to start with the grassroots and let them write about your product (the tail) of their own volition?

In theory I would like to believe that in the case of the blogosphere, the tail is comparable to the head. After all, web 2.0 is believed to "a great leveller". And we all believe in how powerful the voice of the people is. I would just like to see some statistics. Anyone have any data/answers/stories?

By the way, the cartoon above is from the gaping void. And in the spirit of the question, check out this post showing some videos on blogging by Peter Hirshberg of Technorati. You gotta love them. And Peter, in case you read this, I would love to take a look at the statistics I requested earlier.


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