Just reading this article about Martha Stewart setting up a MySpace style social networking site aimed at women aged 25-45 and I immediately thought of something I wrote the other day for a paper on Consumer Behaviour and Blog hosting services in a section on Subculture. What follows is only part of the paper, but it makes some interesting points in terms future marketing directions, enjoy.
Subculture is the distinct cultural group that exists as an identifiable segment within a larger, more complex multicultural society (Schiffman et. al. 2001:406).
Subculture has played an important roll in the development and expansion of blogging, and will continue to do so into the future.
Blogging itself first arose from a sub-culture commonly referred to as “geeks”, a group dominated by technologically informed men. (Riley 2005).
As the blogosphere developed, key sub-cultures, such as those with a political interest joined in waves.
Even to this current day, various subcultures can be seen within the blogging community, often grouped together in distinct social networks.
Sub-cultures to be considered into any marketing strategy for blogging include:
” Ethnic Subcultures
” Religious Subcultures
” Geographical and regional subcultures
” Racial subcultures
” Age subcultures
” Interest based subcultures
(list in part: Schiffman et. al. 2001: Chapter 14)
Long Tail theory, as well as discussing the combination of many small blogs equalling a greater whole, also provides for more niche targeting into smaller subcultural groupings than perhaps a more generic, or more traditional product would.
The predominant subcultural groups in blogging have been interest based subcultures and age subcultures, although this is now expanding to cover the more tradition ethnic, religious and geographical subcultures as marketers look at targeting groups who may otherwise have not previous had an interest in blogging.
Blogging has, and continues to play an important role in the development of subcultural capital, the cultural knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture, raising their status and helping differentiate themselves from members of other groups (Wikipedia 2006), in giving an easy to use medium in which to disseminate information and form collective bonds based on the same sub-cultural interest or need.
Age Based subcultures
The most dominate of all subcultures in blogging is the teen market, with 52% of all blogs being developed and maintained by teens that are ages 13-19 (Huffaker, Calvert 2005) and at least 19% of all US Teens Blog (Riley, 2005).
The teen market is traditionally driven by peer influences, and hence as a sub-culture the rapid rise of blogging, and the related social networking (which also includes the use of blogs) has been rapid. The take off of services such as Myspace have been driven by acceptances amongst peers and the need to be involved in such places.
And yet, the mainstreaming of such sites can also lead to an eventual backlash, as some reports now indicate with Myspace.
MySpace’s notoriety could be a turnoff for young people who are looking for an online community of their own, said Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher for the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Lenhart has studied teens’ online behavior since the late 1990s. “Teens will go where their friends go,” she said. (Cohan, 2006)
The question for any marketing strategy is consideration of how to present the blogging product to the age based subculture without actually alienating it by becoming too “mainstream”.
Myspace led the field, through the inclusion of dedicated musician sites and the ability to ad pictures, music and video to user sites, combined with blogging and social networking, whilst being relatively simple to use.
Whether it will eventually be a victim of its own success is yet to be seen, but the E-Commerce Times (Cohan, 2006) article references are number of competitors who is some cases, such as Friendsorenemies.com are targeting more interest based niches amongst the teen demographic.
And in a crowded marketplace, this would be wise advice for any marketing strategy, as it would be in any business plan: what sub-cultures are yet to be specifically targeted. How can we better target the sub-culture, whether that be age, interest, or a combination of the two.
Interest based subcultures
Interest based subcultures are relatively new in terms of marketing blogging services. Certainly, various groups have embraced the medium, however this has generally in the past been through the use generic services as opposed to interest based targeting. Although there has been some attempts at incorporating interest based targeting as part of a broader service (as previously mentioned with Myspace), most companies offering blogging services haven’t targeted interest based subcultures.
The question arises in the development of a marketing strategy, is should a firm consider interest based subcultures in its marketing mix.
With some 200 million odd blogs in existence (Riley, 2006), the marketplace is already highly developed. Any new blogging package, be it free or paid, would need to distinguish itself from existing sites, and certainly interest based subcultural services are currently under catered for and could provide a marketing edge that could define the company.
1. Schiffman, L., Bednall, D., Cowley, E., O’Cass, A., Watson, J. & Kanuk, L. 2001 Consumer Behaviour 2nd edition, Pearson Education Australia, Frenches Forrest p.406
2. Riley, D. 2005 “The demise of the Geek Bloggers”, The Blog Herald. Retrieved 20 May 2006 from
3. Schiffman, L., Bednall, D., Cowley, E., O’Cass, A., Watson, J. & Kanuk, L. 2001 Consumer Behaviour 2nd edition, Pearson Education Australia, Frenches Forrest Chapter 14
4. Wikipedia Foundation, 2006 ‘Subcultures Wikipedia. Retrieved 20 May 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subculture
5. Huffaker, D. A., and Calvert, S. L. (2005). “Gender, identity, and language use in teenage blogs” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 10(2), article 1. retrieved 20 May 2006 from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue2/huffaker.html
6. Riley, D. 2005 “19% of Teens maintain a blog: survey”, The Blog Herald. Retrieved 20 May 2006 from http://www.blogherald.com/2005/11/03/
7. Cohan, J 2006 “For Teens, MySpace.com Is Just So Last Year”, Ecommerce Times, retrieved 22 May 2006 from http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/AJELU7GvDU6XAg/
8. Riley, D. 2006 “The Blog Herald Blog Count February 2006, 200 million blogs in existence”, The Blog Herald. Retrieved 20 May 2006 from