Bobby Hendersons post explaining his Fine Art Taco experiment should be required reading for all marketing, advertising, business people, and bloggers.
Essentially Bobby put up a site with some badly lit pictures of taco’s and claimed the site was targeted at a specific demographic, people that liked both fine art and tacos. He demonstrated this demographic with a very nice example of a Venn diagram, showing the critical intersection.
Today BoingBoing linked to him proving his point of course, clearly there are enough people to buy his weakly framed and badly lit taco photos to keep him in beers for a while.
But of course no one is really interested in his photographs or the tacos, they are really interested wonderfully predictive nature of his experiment. His venn diagram and blog post are almost the queen of hearts a magician will remove from a sealed envelope after guessing the card.
But his point about niches is important, tight niches are what enable something to go viral, they provide the kindling to get something going. They are not the fuel, that’s the sites like boing boing, tech crunch, digg, the mainstream media. Think about it, it really doesn’t require much more that 40 people to digg something until the rest of the site gets on it, so intially you just have to get 40 or 50 people excited enough about it to get on the front page of digg.
One case study in not being too niche, if you will forgive the self reference, is my t-shirt blog, tcritic.com which I started about a year ago. A lot of people thought it was too niche, a lot of people wondered if I would be able to find enough to write about. Well a year later that site has been on BoingBoing (indirectly) and on the front page of digg. After 1 day on boingboing I had picked up over 1500 rss subscribers in a day, had over 10,000 unique visitors. My one day on the front page of digg of course crashed my server and then let to about 25,000 unique visitors. In fact my most viewed content on the site is two very niche blog posts my top ten list of star wars t-shirts, and my top ten list of video game t-shirts (and as they are months old and still get about 50% of my traffic they also demonstrate how the long tail works on niches as well).
If it really is only about 50 to 100 people that are passionate about something it’s no wonder that a post titled the 50 most influential bloggers is some of the best linkbate this year… that and the leave brittney alone guy (dugg over 5000 times geez).