Posted by Flux on 

2 December 2011

What is trending now?

Information overload is a thing of the past. Targeted and highly refined search combined with customised delivery is the thing of the future. The complex algorithms that run our searches are using increasingly personal information to deliver more specific results to our device of choice.

Google learns more about each user based on their search history and user preferences every day: what we are interested in, what we are looking for, the people we interact with and even the content that we choose to read and share. Broad-based communication has made way for highly filtered, focused information specific to the person it is intended for based on a personal set of likes, tastes and interests.

Take for example the new Gmail feature, the “Priority Inbox”; based on the average time spent interacting with an email, Gmail has learned which conversations should be marked as important and which can be relegated to the general “Inbox”. This feature, developed in Google Labs, saves the user hours of manual filtering by automatising the process based on historical information gathered.

The thinking behind this feature coincides with that of favourite “Lists”  on the popular micro-blogging platform Twitter. One is able to follow thousands of Twitter users, but only really pay attention to a handful of selected users defined by the lists that said user creates.

Facebook has caught up with the recent addition of their own version of lists. “Smart Lists” automatically organises information streaming through a users feed according to the city in which a friend lives and the institution at which they studied. Facebook users can now create custom lists which frame the information based on, well, anything really, be it where they work, common interests or hobbies. If you administrate a Facebook Page, you will also be able to view a feed specific to the people who like that particular page, offering you a wealth of information about what those people are talking about, what they are interested in and what they are sharing.

Why it’s important?

The idea of the niche market has metamorphosised into that of the “hyper-niche”. Broadcasting has been replaced by narrowcasting, providing more and more targeted information to your consumer. No longer can you expect your message to hit home when you are talking to a group of people who increasingly define themselves according to a more individual and varying set of criteria.

The New York Times, for years, has been a frontrunner in the field of email marketing, allowing their subscribers to completely customise their email with regards to their particular set of interests, whether it be sport, politics or arts and culture. Allowing your database to select the information they receive will allow you to analyse more accurately the type of content they are interested in, allowing you to better service them with more relevant stories and products.

What’s the butterfly effect?

People’s expectations have changed. They have become more sensitive and more attuned to what is relevant in their world and in their business. No longer can you inundate people with your every offering as they will simply unsubscribe or stop listening. The trick is to capture people’s attention by offering them highly relevant and targeted content which they find helpful in some way or another. Be useful. Be relevant.

The pioneers and global hotspots

Chris Anderson wrote at length about the Long Tail, which has really shaped modern thinking around the subject of niche markets. With the scope and reach defined by online access, it seems that in order to be successful in today’s online marketplace, all a company needs to do is define the hyper-niche that it services and make it the organisations core mission to dominate that space by being more relevant in the lives of it’s customers.

It can all be summarised quite nicely by this one website, which really made me chuckle when I first came across it: Overly Specific Stock Photos . Enjoy!

By: Loren Phillips

About Loren

Loren is an avid trendspotter, with a keen interest in how the internet is shaping human behaviour across the board. Her favourite subjects include design, technology and the environment.

Image credit: Gallo Images/ Getty Images

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