Long Tail in Social Scenario

Long Tail in the Social Scenario

The term Long tail (opens in a new tab) has become quite popular when people talking about how Amazon (opens in a new tab) use the Internet as the leverage to sell a wide range of random items online for the niche market.

On one hand, the most popular products take a huge percentage of the sales in the market. On the other hand, the wide variety of random items might still be desirable for a specific person or certain needs. And as the long tail extended, the sum of the niche market sales can also bring a lot of value to the market.

Long tail of e-commerce

If we apply the same idea to the social scenario and map the sales(or popularity) to the frequency you interact with certain people, you can see a similar pattern.

Your partner or family members probably already take the most of your social time in your daily interaction, which just like the popular products contribute a high percentage of the sales.

In the old days, there are even no tails, which means you basically have no chance of having social relationships with over about 150 people(Dunbar's number (opens in a new tab)) under the physical and mental constraints.

Non-long tail of social scenario

Unlocked by the Internet, social media broke the physical limitation, which created the tails for your social life.

long tail in social scenario

But still, your limited attention and time will be filled by the ones who close to your everyday life, e.g., family members, close friends, colleagues.

Today, there is something lower the friction of engaging with people again, Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat (opens in a new tab), or this kind of social format. The innovation is not on the technology side, but the social interaction. You got the permission to quickly jump between interesting conversations, and the ability to get their attention at the moment by being there with a full heart.

Brings value to the long tail

The fact that you can interact with some authentic people randomly just like the niche items that you can purchase online that you couldn't afford to search through all the physical stores to find it before.

Thinking from the point of view of people's needs, the demand for those less popular items is there, and the reason why people cannot buy them is that there is no cost-effective way to buy them and sell them. The online shopping mall breaks the physical limitation and indexes the items for searching. People can finally use just one-click to get their item to ship to their place.

In the same way, people want so badly to interact with someone they admired. Before, although it's not like you cannot send an email(or mail) or reach them out from social media. But the fact that it's almost impossible to get their attention by those means.

There are a couple of reasons you cannot get their eyeballs:

  • Information-overload: too much content floating around every day, every moment.
  • Authenticity/ Identity: they don't know who you are, why they need to spend time with you. You can even be just spam, who knows.
  • Asynchronous interaction: the person and you are not there at the same time, which costs more attention to have a proper conversation.

And THAT is the innovation Clubhouse (opens in a new tab) brought to the table.

Because of the linear interaction of the audio interface that limited the bandwidth of the incoming information, it makes the person who is speaking heard by others, even a silence make a sound. The nature of real-time conversation also makes you sensed that there is a real person there right here right now.

From this perspective, plus a little bit of hindsight, the reason why this kind of drop-in audio interaction become popular is more and more clear.

I just felt so excited to experience all this in the past few weeks, the messages I heard are quite different from the information you can get on social media. Although the in-person interaction can already provide a similar value, in this post-COVID world, these are so precious to me.

Looking forward to seeing how this type of interaction can change the world a little be in a more understanding way.