Every now and then I have one of those moments where I look at a newspaper or something someone’s written about them, and I remember – “Wait a minute, these guys are still trying to talk to everybody at once.”
It’s puzzling to me, and yet, it happens all the time.
So here are a few basics of the Long Tail, boiled down as tightly as I can work them in a few minutes over morning coffee:
- Some of your content appeals to many of your readers.
- Most of your content appeals to smaller groups of your readers.
- Some of your content appeals to few of your readers.
Often, the stories that fit into category 1 will also be covered by TV, radio, and any print competitors you have.
The stories that fit into category 2 are things you find in sections, like sports and business, and you can break those down further into these three groups if you’d like, to things like the NBA playoffs (category 1), high school basketball profiles (category 2), and a brief about the nets getting repaired at a local public park’s court (category 3).
The stories that fit into category 3 will be your most specific local content, stories that no other news organization has the time or space to report on, but the people who care about these stories will be your most passionate readers on the topic at hand. (See above basketball example.)
So if a story comes across your desk, and your instinct is that “not enough readers care about this,” ask yourself how passionately they care about it, and then serve that niche, and every niche you can, because your readers might read the story that affects everyone in town, but they’ll be far more interested in what goes on in their neighborhoods, or their professions, or their sports, or their hobbies, or their schools.
This is basic stuff.
Your readers aren’t a mass — stop treating them like one.