For Social Media, Reach is found in the Long Tail!

When it comes to Social Media there has been tons of talk about those few influencers who are able to spread your message like wild fire. But finding those few influencers has been the proverbial challenge.

Several good books have been written about this topic by some really smart people. But when doing some data mining on my blog using a new tool called SM2 from Techrigy (special thanks to them for helping me get trained on this tool), I noted that the far reaching impact of my blog is found in the proverbial Long Tail. (see graphic)

What this says is that the conversation about topics on my blog and where they are occurring is coming from the long tail (dang it, that Chris Anderson is right again!)

So what I think this means is that exclusively looking for reach with your social media initiatives by targeting a selected few influencers is a flawed concept (sorry Ed Keller from WOMMA). To me this graph says it needs to also contain a component that delivers adoption (ie Reach) through the Long Tail of bloggers out there.

The bottom line is Social Media is fluid so you might as well go with the flow!

7 comments to For Social Media, Reach is found in the Long Tail!

  • Graham Brown (mobileYouth)

    Hi Paul. Certainly an interesting post. Much of technology’s premise has been built on targeting “early adopters”. What tends to get overlooked is the characteristic behaviors of EAs and the mass are quite different, so what works for one does not necessarily reach into the long tail. I wonder what you think of Seth Godin’s angle – ie stop worrying about finding the influencers – they’re actively out there looking for remarkable ideas to spread?

  • Martin Edic (techrigy)

    Paul,
    Thanks for expanding on our discussion of the long tail in social media- it’s a subject that fascinates me and that SM2 authority chart is a literal example of how it works. I’d add one thing to reinforce this: reach in social media is exponential and unpredictable. This means a minor league blogger or Twitterer with few followers can break a story and rocket up the tail as that story spreads, something I like to call the brushfire effect. Those who don’t monitor the long tail can miss this kind of thing until it’s too late.

  • Paul Dunay

    Graham

    I think that is right – its more content dependent than person/influencer dependent

    If you have a story worth repeating, bloggers, podcasters, etc will repeat your story all over the world!

  • Albert van Niekerk

    Hi Paul
    Your comment that the impact of your blog is found in the Long Tail (which delivers much of the conversation) is very interesting. I read your blog just after I have finished reading an article “Should You Invest in The Long Tail?” by Prof. Anna Elberse of the Harvard Business School in the HBR of July-August 2008. She found (and I quote from the HBR summary)”Blockbusters are capturing even more of the market than they used to, and consumers don’t really like niche products much.” To quote from the article itself: “People who chose obscure products tend to be familiar with many alternatives; those who know few alternatives tend to stick with popular products.”

    Two tongue-in-the-cheek questions: Has your blog reached the status of popular blog (for those who know few alternatives)? Or is it an obscure blog visited by people who tend to be familiar with alternatives but who like visiting your blog?

    Seriously, I like visiting your blog for its content. How and why it came to my attention is immaterial. The fact is, I like going back to it time and again. As I have only a limited capacity, measured in time and interests, I tend to every now and then weed out blogs which are not consistently interesting. Yours is consistently interesting. So the message is if a blogger is consistently interesting and produces high-quality content the blogger will be in somebody’s short or long tail – and its best to be in both.

    The key is content.

    Regards, Albert van Niekerk
    abplan@intekom.co.za

  • Paul Dunay

    Albert

    Thanks for the comment and I really like the perspective you added

    As far as my blog – well I guess I am in the long tail since it hasnt reached the stature of Mashable or GigaOM or even Scoblizer

    But it does have a very loyal following (thank you all of you)

    and you are right they come for the content and hopefully some perspective that I bring

  • Samuel

    Paul

    Ran across this post when doing some research on ranking true value of influencers.

    This may be the point that others were saying but it seems like your numbers prove the influencers theory. Is it smarter for myself as a social media marketer to try to capture a long tail of those people that follow you individually, or should I just target you and hope that your advocacy to that long tail, that your collecting via your content, comes along with you?

    Thanks sorry about run-ons and maybe a repeated idea.
    -Samuel

  • @ Samuel

    ok so I agree the numbers prove the point on the influencer theory but in my own personal practice on this blog – I am looking to target the head of the tail keywords. If there is a really relevant keyword like lets say in my case “B2B Professional Services Technology Marketing” which is totally long tail – and I can OWN that baby but there are only 2 people listening (most likely me and my mom 😉 then it makes more sense for me to target (based on google traffic reports) the head of that tail which would be “B2B Marketing”

    I hope that helps and thanks for your comment

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