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PCGAMER.BUZZ and others battle to break up Reddit’s dominance on internet communities

This post explores the reasons for Reddit’s continued dominance in the social news aggregation industry

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Image: KnowTechie

Reddit is one of the oldest social media networks, founded in 2005 as a news aggregation, content rating, and discussion website. In the last 15 years, Reddit has grown to become one of the most visited websites in the world, ranking number 18th in Alexa’s global internet engagement ranking ahead of Netflix, Twitter, and Instagram.  Reddit now has more than 430 million monthly active users worldwide, out of which there are more than 52 million daily users across more than 100,000 communities. 

This post explores the reasons for Reddit’s continued dominance in the social news aggregation industry, why its competitors can’t seem to find a chink in its armor, and how emerging upstarts could potentially carve out niches out of  Reddit’s core communities.

Here’s why it’s been hard to get rid of Reddit

From its earliest days up until now, Reddit has shown incredible resilience in its ability to survive, dominate, and outpace the competition. Reddit’s earliest competitors, Del.icio.us and Digg both learned the hard way that Reddit was in the industry to win.

Owen Byrne, who built Digg’s original website noted in a chat with Mashable that “when they {Reddit) first came out, I remember looking at them and saying, ‘They are a copycat, they’re a clone… It became fairly obvious fairly quickly that they were more than just a clone. They were a viable competitor.”

Joshua Schacter, founder of Del.icio.us also noted that Reddit wasn’t afraid to pioneer innovation and that’s one of their key competitive advantages. The idea of subreddits was one of the key reasons Reddit won against Del.icio.us because they gave users the ability to build and curate their own spaces and content. Schacter noted “I actually advocated for something like subreddits” but never did got around to implementing it.

Other older competitors such as Slashdot, Mind2, and Stumbleupon have all tried unsuccessfully to get a foothold in the market that Reddit already dominates and it is doubtful that they’ll move out from operating on the Reddit’s shadow. 

And the reason for Reddit’s dominance is simply, the power of communities. Tim Squirrel, a PhD researcher into communities and digital culture observes that If Facebook is people you know sharing things you don’t care about, Reddit is things you care about shared by people you don’t know.” Reddit’s superpower is its ability to connect pseudonymous strangers into tightly knit communities. 

The reality is that Reddit is secure in its position as the Front Page of the Internet and if any competitor that wants to succeed in displacing Reddit, it will need to be at least 10X better to beat the competitive advantage that Reddit enjoys across its communities.

The innovator eventually becomes the incumbent

The history of social media is filled with many innovators who end up becoming incumbents and the digital representations of the traditional establishments that they sought to dismantle. 

MySpace and Yahoo are good examples of how an innovator could lose its edge. Facebook is already entering into that territory with the privacy debate, Twitter recently poked the proverbial bear in relation to the de-platforming discourse, and it seems that the more things change, the more they remain the same. 

Hence, even though Reddit dominates today, new entrants such as Steemit, HackerNews, Voat, and Quora are tactically moving to operate in new niches rather than taking on Reddit heads-on in direct competition, and they might be on to something.

PCGAMER.buzz is a potential Reddit competitor who is also trying to focus on building a core community rather than going into direct competition with the giant. PCGAMER.buzz is a community devoted to news,  reviews, demos, and updates on all things relating to PC gaming and it is coming for Reddit’s 29 million-people r/gaming community and its 171-thousand people r/gamingpc community.

The r/gaming community brands itself as a subreddit for (almost) anything related to games, starting from video games and going all the way to card games, with the only exclusion being sports. The r/gamingpc community is concerned with everything relating to gaming hardware for the PC, starting with sharing custom build pictures, reviewing hardware components, discussing gaming hardware and providing guides on gaming hardware and peripheral devices among others.

One of the key selling points of PCGAMER.buzz is that while Reddit monetizes the gaming communities built on its platform, PCGAMER.buzz wants to give users a chance to earn money by being part of its community. 

For instance, users get a banner for every post they make, and other users can sponsor such posts to gain control of the banner, and then, the original creator gets to earn PCGAMER community tokens when a new person sponsors their banner. The more exciting point is that 1 PCGAMER token equals $1; hence, there’s a chance to earn some decent money by being active in the PCGAMER.buzz community. And more excitingly, PCGAMER.BUZZ shares ⅔ of its profits out to the community as it continues to establish itself as a community existing solely for the benefit of the PC gaming community. 

Conclusion 

Reddit still has an undeniable dominance in its ability to build all manners of communities of pseudonymous strangers. New entrants in the space will have to build a solid value proposition to attract communities away from Reddit into their own platforms. Also, many of the people on Reddit may not necessarily be interested in making money off the content that they produce and some of them already buy Reddit coins for a premium and an ad-free experience. 

Nonetheless, incumbents do not remain untouchable forever and only time will tell, whether the new entrants into the social news aggregation industry will succeed in cannibalizing Reddit’s communities. 

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