The Long Tail is a popular consumer demographic often applied to Internet related business and services. In How Many Blogs Are There? Is Someone Still Counting? I proposed studying blogging demographics based on software platform, country or a combination of both. While looking into the blogging demographics per platform it became clear that there are huge national and local blogospheres. A lot of blogs that write about blogging focus on the major platform WordPress and at the Blog Herald we have readers kindly reminding us that blogging does not equal WordPress.
Point in case is: WordPress.com and Blogger.com are big but national blog hosting services may be even bigger.
If we translate the Long Tail concept to blog hosting services they may serve a huge niche market.
The phrase The Long Tail (as a proper noun with capitalized letters) was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article  to describe the niche strategy of certain business such as Amazon.com or Netflix. The distribution and inventory costs of those business allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The group of persons that buy the hard-to-find or “non-hit” items is the customer demographic called the Long Tail. (Wikipedia)
Blog hosting services such as WordPress and Blogger are big worldwide but national blog services are very popular in non-English countries. The French Skyrock for example hosts almost 15 million blogs and with an Alexa ranking of 16 it is right behind Blogger.com (12) and receives even more traffic than WordPress.com (50). Only 2.2% of all WordPress.com and 2.5% of Blogger.com visitors come from France. While pageviews are no longer considered to be the ultimate measurement tool for traffic and popularity Skyrock’s numbers are nonetheless impressive.
Skyrock started in 2002 as Skyblog, a social networking site for the popular youth-oriented radiostation Skyrock with a free blogging service. It is the major blog hosting service in France and Europe and is an important communication platform:
Due to Skyrock Blog’s reach to the young society in France, it has been utilized as a common source of online rallying and communication during the Paris Riots of 2005 . It has also been used in the organization of underground political demonstrations and movements, similar to the 2006 U.S. immigration reform protests. (Wikipedia)
The size, reach and impact of the Skyrock shows that there is definitely room for national blog services. An important factor in the success of those services is obviously the fact that they provide a service in the native language. English is no longer the dominant language in the blogosphere and these services acknowledge that.
A second reason is that they provide a major audience because you are where your network is. If all your friends are on Skyrock you will very likely join them as well. This power law does not only apply to social networking sites (I am on Twitter because all my friends are on Twitter and not on Jaiku) but also to blog services.
Do you blog on a national blog hosting service and why? What role do these services play in the blogosphere?
Author: Anne Helmond
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.