Long Tail As A Strategyposted by Anna Mar, June 01, 2013
What Is A Long Tail?A long tail is the type of thing that gets statisticians excited.
It's a distribution of numbers that looks like this:
The reason statisticians get so excited about long tails is that they frequently occur in the real world.
Long tails are of interest to business strategists because they can be used to model how firms complete with crowds.
Organizations vs. CrowdsA competitive battle between organizations and crowds can be modeled with a long tail distribution.
Large organizations produce a great deal more value than individuals. For example, a media organization such as the New York Times produces far more content than any individual blogger.
Each organization produces more value than any individual. However, the long tail is so long that it potentially adds up to more value. In other words, a crowd can compete with an organization.
The competitive potential of crowds is clear to see in social media. When individuals contribute to a common cause such as Wikipedia they can easily beat an encyclopedia produced by a single organization.
Examples of Long Tail StrategiesA long tail strategy is any strategy that leverages the work of crowds of individuals to create things. Examples include:
- Open Source
A method for producing software and technology that allows anyone to add value.
- Creative Commons
A method for creating art, design, knowledge, information and entertainment that allows anyone to add value.
- Social Media
Tools for creating and sharing media.
Crowd driven networks.
Outsourcing work to a crowd.
Raising funds using small contributions from a large crowd.
Outsourcing small parcels of work to individuals.
- Citizen Science
Crowd based research projects.
- Virtual Economies
Crowds that set up their own economic systems in virtual worlds.
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