Coined by Chris Anderson, the concept of the Long Tail works very well with the ways in which new media is used by your customers. This has become a common term in online or digital media because the large availability of choice and negligible distribution costs in the media allow for greater or distributed selection. This mechanism in turn can map to the buying and sharing patterns of a greater percentage of your customers.
Some applications of Long Tail are social network mechanisms (like crowdsourcing, and peer-to-peer collaboration), user-driven innovation (Eric von Hippel), micro-finance (Grameen Bank) and economic models, and viral marketing where context matters.
In the long tail and the dip, Seth Godin talks about three profit pockets you can choose from with the launch of a new product or service:
- Be the best seller - mass market play, many buy at higher cost to you
- Find the niche - slice of market choice, those who love you buy at significantly lower cost to you
- Own the long tail - small market per hit, small royalty on huge range of inventory makes it profitable
We've talked about the development of the social media release by Todd Defren and Shift communications. PitchEngine created a service dedicated to helping public relations professionals with hosting and spreading information in a format that is new media ready.
The evolution is really reader engagement - the place where you provide content in formats that are ready to share for all learner types - visuals, auditory, etc. Long Tail therefore begins after distribution and as an outcome of it. We get so focused on the tools, that we forget it's the people who are now acting as filters and editors.
Last week we talked about your new media equity and I wanted to take a closer look at what happens inside the conversations. We discussed that the future of news is you-centric, with you being the filter as well as the news maker.
I wanted also to extend the conversation at Chris Brogan's blog about the next new media company, because some of the ideas are about Long Tail - let's take a look:
- Stories - when a news publication, especially in trade media, does not have the time or resources to verify facts and especially technical information, it's up to you to have a ready repository of resources that can help explain it to their readers.
- Curators and editors - Editing is hard. It requires a commitment to making choices. It's about what you leave out as much as it is about what you put in. With experience we gain the ability to discern what is core to the central story.
- Multimedia rules - that's because we take in and share information in many formats. Package your story in ways you would have not thought of in the past - micro formats, headlines and subheads with executive summaries, two-minute videos, ten-minute podcast with a deep dive. You do the work, you reap the benefits in increased distribution.
- Built-in collaboration - this is not just adding a widget, though. In order for this information to be most valuable for readers, which include journalists, you need to organize it so that it can be easily accessed. A long string of comments is not going to be read, probably. Taking a cue from Amazon, you might consider letting readers rate comments.
- Contributors - in our conversations with new media editors, we said it's really smart to invite them in to be part of the roster. You press information can spread faster and farther when you have people who are passionate about your content share it. This is a little bit the strategy Ford is pursuing with some of their initiatives.
- On demand - BNet has a terrific post about how print and mobile will converge.To me the money for new media is in this bucket. When you add portability and personalization, you add convenience and that is something that people may be willing to pay for.
This should get you started thinking about how you write and present your content not just so that it's consumed, but to be used and built upon. Your press release is just the beginning, the invitation to have a conversation. It does not necessarily mean you're in the room when that conversation takes place.
But you're definitely the place where the transaction happens if you've learned to think about the Long Tail of your content. Have you started testing a few of these tactics?
What do you see as your biggest obstacles to packaging the content in many formats? How do you collect your feedback - links, by topic? Do you tie it all into action taken - for example a inquiry about the product or service? Maybe you have an ordering engine that helps you measure transactions? These are all things to start thinking about.
[image courtesy of robotography]