Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS (the humanity!) or .

Reach vs. Influence

David Armano was kind enough to invite me to a presentation he gave at Digitas about the success of his blog. It was fascinating to be in the audience for a presentation by a blogger to his company about how to build something organically. David had lots of interesting points, especially the idea that once you’ve experienced the kind of authenticity you do in this online world, it’s hard to go back to the bullshit of corporate communication.

One point I did take slight issue with was his depiction of how influence ripples in the blogosphere.

influence ripples

My question, which I also asked David, was whether what he was depicting was really influence or reach? What I was seeing was the sources with the largest reach spreading the widest. David’s response was quite thoughtful. He suggested that what he was showing was the combination of reach and influence: A rare occurrence that is the holy grail of media.

The issue I have is that the wonder of the internet to me is the ability to have low-reach, high-influence. In an old media world, such a thing is not overly scalable, but online its an efficient and very real occurrence.

While I don’t have the reach of the New York Times, for a small group of people on a small number of subjects, I am more influential (as scary as that may be). In the same way, I read the blogs of many people who are not widely read. Their ideas are what draw me to them, not the size of their audience.

As CK kept repeating, “it’s about deep, not wide.”

For someone like myself, there’s no incentive to trying to appeal to a broader audience. People come here for a very specific reason and if I tried to write on more general things I’d probably attract no one at all.

Before I conclude, let me address one last thing. The question that always comes up with blogs is “how do you monetize?”. I think the answer comes in the value of niche. “Imagine going into a room and asking everyone who’s visited Yahoo! to raise their hand. Everyone in the room would have their arm in the air I assume. Now ask who’s visited NoahBrier.com. Pretend one other person raises their hand. (Come on . . . use your imagination here!) The odds that you have something to talk about with that one other person in the room is far higher than you having something to talk about with everyone in the room.”

This is not a brand new idea, niche publications have been doing it for years. But now that the cost of entry has dropped so low, it’s awfully easy to enter a new niche and build an audience.

I guess what I’m saying is that a super-targeted audience who listens and thinks about what you say is the influence I want.

So thanks for being that.

PS David: Thanks so much for the invite, I really enjoyed the presentation and am in no way attacking you. Just bringing up some friendly debate.

October 19, 2006