Have you ever wondered why there is only one eBay or only one Wikipedia?
This is about the imbalance that popularity causes on the internet. It is as if there are only one or two places for each category of things.
This seems to be counter-intuitive because the Internet is the biggest thing humankind has ever created, and there should be enough space for all of us to be visible. But we are not.
This is all down to a thing called a power curve. The characteristic of this curve is that the imbalance of your visibility on the web becomes more extreme as your ranking decreases. The highest few participants in any sector enjoy most of the visibility and consequently most of the traffic.
The formula is simple. The person in the second position has roughly 1/2 of the visibility of the first. The third person 1/3, fourth 1/4 etc. i.e. The nth person has 1/nth chance of being visible. Therefore, this means that if you are ranked 15th or more you are effectively invisible.
The way to use this is to specialise. Each sector or category of a network has it’s dominant voices. To be visible, you need to be in a sector that recognises you as a specialist, not a generalist.
Breaking into an established sector is difficult due to the power law dominance of the leading voices. We either wait for them to fall from grace or we need to invent our own sectors.
About the Author: Adam Blackie is a professional Interim Manager who leads service delivery teams through their change programmes. He works with CEO’s and their Boards in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.