WSJ writes: “A new kind of Web site is turning ordinary people into hidden influencers, shaping what we read, watch and buy.”
The next time you visit a buzzy Web site, see a funny video clip online or read an unusual take on the news, chances are you owe it to someone like Mr. Worthington. A new generation of hidden influencers is taking root online, fueled by a growing love affair among Web sites with letting users vote on their favorite submissions. These sites are the next wave in the social-networking craze — popularized by MySpace and Facebook. Digg is one of the most prominent of these sites, which are variously labeled social bookmarking or social news. Others include Reddit.com (recently purchased by Cond Nast), Del.icio.us (bought by Yahoo), Newsvine.com and StumbleUpon.com. Netscape relaunched last June with a similar format.
The opinions of these key users have implications for advertisers shelling out money for Internet ads, trend watchers trying to understand what’s cool among young people, and companies whose products or services get plucked for notice. It’s even sparking a new form of payola, as marketers try to buy votes.