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.”