With all the attention devoted to Web 2.0 capacity and online publishing activity shifting to blogs and user generated content, I found inspiration in a recent Forrester analyst review of a new Gartner report called “generation virtual.”
The question driving the report was how to go viral. Instead of looking at the audience through the typical age segments, this study says it is more useful to look at audience behavior and plan accordingly.
The Gartner take is:
- only 3 to 10 percent create content
- the same number (3 to 10 percent) comment on content
- a higher number (10 to 20 percent) will do less time intensive work (surveys, ratings, forward to friend, ask question) that helps cyberspace hum and
- 80 percent or more just lurk
The Forrester analyst pointed out their company’s participation index, which they call a technographic profile, is another take on the question of segmentation. If you put in the age, profile and gender of your target audience it will report what percentage of your audience falls into their six categories of participation:
The idea is once you can map your audience to their known online activities you can plan to offer the technology they crave to do what they love to do.
What it Means…
I think the emerging power of the Web is less about maintaining a static page for online publishing and more about a means of distributing your content for others to publish when your aim is to go viral. The insight here is you may not need a blog, but you do need an online distribution platform.
At an Internet Roundtable event, held in July 2008 Media Consortium Director Tracy Van Slyke said that a good state blog is lucky to get 1000 to 3000 unique visitors a day. To drive traffic they focus on active distribution strategies to spread the latest news:
- providing widgets for top stories
- doing ladder-up stories that will catch fire with DIGG
- doing twitter feeds for the chattering class and
- using Facebook networks to post activity updates
If you are a Web manager with limited time and staff resources, how do you organize for success? Starting a new blog may be the wrong answer. The Media Consortium playbook may offer more value. The old rules of putting all the attention on maintaining content and drawing users into your own site are falling fast. Today, the smart money seems to be on enabling re-publishing and think more about Web distribution and less about user generated content.
Recently CNN announced their videos could now be embedded in anyone’s Web site, joining many other organizations that already offer the same service.
The next step is to reorganize staff resources and goals to match this environment. Before, the standard practice was to flack the press release to the media and post it online and consider it a day. The emerging standard is to cultivate relationships with like-minded distribution networks which need timely and want relevant content for their audience. Then format your press release for this target audience not the narrow credentialed media crowd. The concept of a social media press release format has been gaining wide traction. When you release your content into this universe with feeds, ladder-up networks and embedded content.
If most people are lurking, that’s your audience. Keep the comment fields open, offer ratings and surveys if you can. But remember: distribution is where it’s at.
NOTE: This article is cross posted and was originally published on July 2008 at http://www.emeraldstrategies.net/buzz/articles/2008/200808-80-percent-online-lurk.htm