Sunday, 6 May 2012

Reaching for the edge

Today we are looking at “leveraging the long tail”, the second last of the patterns defined by Tim O'Reilly at a Web 2.0 conference many years ago. This pattern refers to the Web 2.0 market strategy to reach to the outer/smaller markets, not just relying on the popular mass produced success of the industrial era. The online world allows businesses and individuals to reach to many more people than traditional business models, thus allowing a normally small market to now be larger by removing the geographical boundaries, or the limiting factor of shelf space. The business or individuals no longer needs to be the “hit”, just create a good product or service catering to your target market.

Picture by Hay Kranen / PD

The image above shows a graphical representation of leveraging the long tail, as defined by Chris Anderson. The left is the dominate mass market, and the right is the long tail. As you can see they both have the same volume.

Reddit is a social news site that displays news based on community votes, and user personal preferences. Users vote content either up or down. Its a very simple concept, and the site layout has been kept concise. Users share links to content or create their own content, and the community votes on whether they like or dislike. 

So how does a simple site like Reddit represent a concept like leveraging the long tail? Reddit don't just have popular news stories like on the news, or in the newspapers. They have stories from all over the globe on varied topics. Content is grouped by topic which allows users to find relevant stories based on interest. Users can eliminate unwanted stories from their front page by choosing to subscribe to topics.

The advantages of online distribution means Reddit can provide unlimited content without regard for “shelf space”, a strong factor influencing printed magazines and newspapers. This method of distribution eliminates print cost, and allows access to worldwide markets.

Another advantage is content is provided immediately, there is no delay waiting for printing or distribution. Unfortunately due to this immediate availability, users can submit rubbish, although this can be voted out, it cannot be stopped from happening in the first place. This kind of community wisdom contributes to Reddit's success. Users believe in the community, so as a community work to keep things relevant. User generated content also gives a sense of community, and ownership. Users  want others to read their work, or follow their suggested links, so spread the word on behalf of Reddit.

In conclusion, Reddit conforms to the “leveraging the long tail” pattern by not just targeting the large mass market, but providing content for everyone, even those with niche interests.



  1. Good Post

  2. Hey there again elizabeth, you continue to to post some really great material on your blog!. You really nailed the understanding of the concept (first paragraphs) this week just like every other week. I wont lie i often visit your blog and read what you have to help myself understand the topics a little bit better. Be proud of this!. Your example for this week was kind of unexpected, i had never even thought of Reddit, i was always stuck in the mindset of big sites selling items. Reddit does provide services but in a different way, i think it takes a great mind to look at a site like this and apply it to our topic of leveraging the long tail. Reddit does this very well, it provides a truckload of stuff, some of which will not be of any interest to a lot of users, just like any other site that sells items (amazon, ebay etc). Great post and thanks for the great read this week, i look forward to the last post for this portfolio.

    1. Thanks again for your positive comments, really appreciated. I found it hard to explain the pattern clearly this week, and picking a site took a while.