Sunday, May 6, 2007

How Not to Exploit a Niche Market Online

The latest debate within the center-right blogosphere concerns new forums for niche markets, like conservative alternatives to YouTube and Wikipedia. I've already added my two sense here, but Rob Bluey's subsequent thoughts require a response.

Rob writes:

If you want to reach a niché market, you post to those site. If you want viral marketing, you turn to YouTube. Let the market decide winners and losers. . . .

My colleagues at the Heritage Foundation, a strong advocate of the free market, have embraced as many video-sharing sites as possible to market our Heritage in Focus videos. The last time I checked, we post them to 15 sites:,, Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network, Daily Motion, Eyespot, Grouper Video, GUBA, Jumpcut, QubeTV, Sharkle, Veoh Video Network, Vimeo, vSocial, Yahoo! Video, and YouTube.

Two months ago, David lauded Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards for his devotion to 24 social-networking sites. Using that same logic, you’d think he’d embrace these 15 video-sharing sites, even if some reach a niché audience.

First, while Heritage and Edwards's campaign have the resources to post to 15 and 24 sites, individual people, who vlog and connect not as a job but as a hobby, simply don't have that kind of time.

Another practical consideration: say you make a typo. You then need to correct it on every site you've uploaded to.

Third, I prefer the alternative David proposes: rather than take on YouTube, start a blog dedicated to the given niche. The resources necessary are far smaller, the task is far easier, and the project is far easier to promote.

Finally, technologically, none of the alternatives is in the same ballpark as YouTube or Wikipedia. To use the most glaring example, QubeTV still doesn't offer the ability to embed videos into your own blog.

All in all, I obviously agree with Rob that the online marketplace should decide, but before I venture onto new turf, I need to be convinced that the new turf is worthwhile.