The thinking behind Web 2.0 seems to be that anyone can create something successful and with user created content anyone can be become a star. Web 2.0 has done one thing really well and that’s given most of us a false sense of confidence in becoming big. If MySpace can create a piece of garbage and get over 60 million people to use it then just imagine what I could do with a half-decent designer and a programmer? Flickr and del.icio.us have tagging so if I add it to my site that’s guaranteed to make the masses happy. Or maybe I just need to create a site where the users do all the work and I collect the ad revenue.
This is the thinking of a lot of sites. They don’t breakdown why the successful companies have made it big. They only seem to breakdown what they think they can do versus what is already out there. Copying another site might guarantee you the same functionality, but it doesn’t grant you the same value.
Now these two shows have 100s of thousands of viewers and with those kinds of numbers it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of starting your own podcast. Maybe you heard that in one week Rocketboom made $40k (doesn’t happen every week) and that is just even more incentive to go grab your camera and go to town. Again though we are forgetting the rules of the game. People only care about what is valuable to them. If it doesn’t add value to their lives their is no point in them paying attention to it.
Ask A Ninja, ZeFrank and Rocketboom have high-entertainment value for people so they watch them, link to them and talk about them. Just like with blogging, anyone can do it, but not everyone can be great at it. Some people have the talent while others don’t. The rules of entertainment haven’t changed, just the tools people use to create it.
You won’t find many references to ScrivsTyme around the web and the show is over 5 months old now. During that time though the show has garnered over 30k regular listeners and 100s of thousands of pageviews a month. How? Word-of-mouth. Nothing fancy and it kind of happened on its own since Tyme and I were focused on creating a great show to listen to. People like the show and tell their friends because of the value it brings their lives. Best type of promotion you could ever ask for and now we just have to start on the online promotion trail, but that’s the easy part.
MySpace got a little lucky because Friendster dropped the ball with lousy service and they were wise enough to get the right people on board first. Connections are even more important in this new era than ever before. Get a link on TechCrunch and that’s a mini-boost initially. Maybe if you are nice to Arrington that is a connection you can milk down the road. Myspace created social value for individuals with the connections that could be made.
That’s one thing people underestimate with 9rules and that’s the connections we are making. Imagine having 250+ contacts with the ability to spread the word about something you are excited about just one email away. Not just any type of person, but people that are influential in their fields and passionate about what they do. I think that is what threw people off when 9rules first launched. Everyone looked for the bottom-line first and without realizing that value isn’t always monetary. Now 9rules has a lot more revenue options than it did when we first launched simply because of the new avenues we have opened up and that is something that I don’t think could’ve been done if we solely focused on advertising and monetizing things. Same can be said with Myspace. Instead of worrying what’s the best place to put an ad they have the enviable task of figuring out how to monetize a site with 60 million people involved.
Digg doesn’t have the luxury of 60 million users, but it’s still no small fry when compared to other sites on the web. It’s content model is entirely based around user-generated content and giving the power to the users is a very enticing proposition for any site owner. That’s why it’s not hard to imagine why you see so many Digg clones popping up today, but they can’t provide the value that Digg currently offers. Digg can offer value in both its community and the amount of traffic it can send a site. And don’t go around thinking for one second that Kevin Rose was a nobody before he started Digg, the guy had some pull.
If you think about any modern sport and its history, you soon realize that the basic rules of the game never change. Sure little rules are added and changed over time, but a homerun in baseball still means you get to round the bases. What changes though are the tools used to play the game. They get more sophisticated as time passes just like the tools of the web. Web 2.0 never changed the rules on what makes something successful, it simply gave us more tools to play the game.