6 Buzzworthy Laws All Web Marketers Should Understand


image credit: jeff warner (modified under cc 2.0)

There is no shortage of smart people putting the pieces together and seeing patterns in the noise around us.  Some theories and laws developed have stuck out as especially relevant to the themes presented here at The Future Buzz.  I thought it would be both interesting and useful to aggregate some of the more relevant laws to understand for bloggers, marketers, PR professionals and businesses looking to create buzz on the web.

The Long Tail

Coined by: Chris Anderson

Defined: The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.

As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare. (source)

An even simpler way to think of it: An Amazon employee described the Long Tail as follows:   “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

Companies/people that embrace the long tail: Google, Amazon, Netflix,  iTunes, pretty much every blogger

More on the long tail: subscribe to Chris Anderson’s blog

The Streisand Effect

Coined by: Mike Masnick


image credit:  californiacoastline.org

Defined: The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the web where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information or content backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized and intensely sought after. Examples of such attempts include censoring a photograph, an ID number or hack, a file, or a website (for example via a cease-and-desist letter). Instead of being suppressed, the information quickly receives extensive publicity, often being widely mirrored and shared across the Internet, or distributed on peer to peer and social networks.

The term Streisand effect originally referred to a 2003 incident in which Barbra Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman (and Pictopia.com) for US$50 million in an attempt to have the aerial photo of her house removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs that were part of a larger project to document the entire coastline. (source)

Examples: The Church of Scientology attempting to remove the Tom Cruise video, AACS encryption key controversy, Starbucks, and Cisco.

More on the Streisand Effect: read Techdirt

Metcalfe’s law

Coined by: Robert Metcalfe

Defined: The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.  Metcalfe’s Law characterizes many of the network effects of communication technologies and networks such as the web, email and social networks.

An even simple way to think of it: fax machines, although dated, are a great example of visualizing Metcalfe’s law.  Image only one person with a fax machine – not very useful.  But as more people get them, they become more useful.

More on Metcalfe’s law: See the network effect

Participation Inequality

Coined by: Jakob Nielsen

Defined: All large-scale, multi-user communities and online social networks that rely on users to contribute content or build services share one property: most users don’t participate very much. Often, they simply lurk in the background.  In contrast, a tiny minority of users usually accounts for a disproportionately large amount of the content and other system activity.  (source)

Also known as: the 90-9-1 rule:

  • 90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
  • 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.
  • 1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions.

Examples: Digg, the blogosphere, message boards and forums – and across any forms of UGC-based sites.  Participation inequality holds as true today as it did in 2006 when Jakob put this together.

Full theory available at: useit.com

The Tipping Point

Coined by: Malcolm Gladwell

Defined: Tipping points are “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”  Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term:  the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point. The law seeks to explain and describe the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life – basically that  ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.  (source)

Examples: The shoe company Airwalk,  how rumors are spread, teen suicide in Micronesia, the spread of teen smoking in the U.S

More about the tipping point: gladwell.com

Moore’s Law

Coined by: Gordon E. Moore


image credit:  wikimedia commons

Defined: Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware.  Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.  The trend was first observed by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore in a 1965 paper. It has continued for almost half of a century and is not expected to stop for another decade at least and perhaps much longer. (source)

Examples: transistors per integrated circuit, density at minimum cost per transistor, cost per transistor, RAM storage capacity, network capacity

More about Moore’s law: check the wiki

Related posts from The Future Buzz:

5 Effective Linkbait And Link Generation Strategies

7 Living Artifacts And Why They Are Done For

49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats

Related posts from around the web:

The Rise of Microfame (Chris Brogan)

Why Text Remains King of the Web (Micro Persuasion)

6 Types of Bloggers as Evangelists (Online Marketing Blog)