Wagstaff’s Take on Digg Participation The Unsocial Web

the LOOSE wire blog: The Unsocial Web

As usual Jeremy Wagstaff does a great job breaking down numbers and potential reasons for them, this time in social media, like Digg (maybe this is why he writes for the Wall Street Journal and I don’t).

One of the factors that he calls out is the “The Weirdo Factor. We newspaper journos have known this for a while. The kind of people who contribute, or contribute most, don’t represent a good cross section of ordinary readers/users. Readers’ letters are always great to receive, and they may contain useful and interesting stuff, but they tend to come from the same people, or group or kind of people. And that means an editor would be a fool to treat his mailbag as a cross section of his readership. Same is basically true of the Net.”

I had a client that referred to this group as the “Lunatic Fringe,” actually he made this comment about me when I remarked that a headline that he suggested was remarkably close to a quote from “The Godfather.” He said that “only someone from the lunatic fringe would recognize” that.

This is the concept of the “echo chamber” of the web, that it gives a small group of people of the ability to dominate an online conversation. Overall, this is positive because that small group now has a larger voice than it did in the offline world. But, and this is a very big but, companies have to remember that the silent majority is out there and they have to listen to more than “the lunatic fringe.”


2 thoughts on “Wagstaff’s Take on Digg Participation The Unsocial Web

  1. Josh,

    If that’s true about the “lunatic fringe” and all, and that only some of us understand and participate in social media, would it be fair to say that there will probably always be some form of traditional PR?

    If only a small portion of Internet users are participating in social media, then the movement can’t be as pervasive and ubiquitous as some social media advocates are saying it is, right?

  2. I think that we can’t underestimate the impact of social media even if only a small percentage of media consumers take part because that number is exponentially larger than it was just a few years ago.

    There’s always going to be a role for PR, but we have to be willing to ‘step out from behind the curtain’ and participate in public discussions as opposed to just influencing them.

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