|Cover via Amazon|
I have read and re-read and keep reading the book “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson. It is by far the most influential book on how the economics of the web works. If you have not read it I highly recommend the book. I believe there are new developments that enhance the oveall premise of the book. I think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have become the channels and filters for niche ideas. I think that is a good thing. The filtering is no longer done by the platform providers like Amazon but by the group of people/companies/groups one follows in these platforms. Why I think this is great for Niche players is that they get sticky followers and can be easier and faster to build a business around it. According to the book “Successful Long Tail aggregators need to have both hits and niches. they need to span the full range of variety, from the broadest appeal to the narrowest, to be able to make the connections that can illuminate a path down the Long Tail that makes sense to everyone” and the author goes on to give the example of MP3.com one of the early online music services on how it grew quickly and had hundreds of thousands of tracks but the problem with MP3.com was that it was only Long Tail and that was a loosing strategy because there was no familiar point of entry for consumers, but now with the above mentioned platforms and filters set we are more open to explore and get ideas pushed to us through our networks. The reason MP3.com’s model did not succeed and the iTunes model-which is less oriented toward independent musicians-did is that iTunes began by making deals with major record labels, which gave it a critical mass of mainstream music. I don’t think this is still a problem so the Long Tail alone strategy might work coupled with a heavy use of social network in pushing the niche.
I think this is still relevant because even though it is easier to find your niche we are all social and some aspects of the Hits in Music or Books or Movies or whatever drive the collective sentiment and you want to be part of that. Those commercial enterprises that understand this or for that matter startups that understand this and try to approach their “fans” with that attitude will still win big. If you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ marketing strategy get one!