Paul Graham of Y Combinator has a motto: “make something people want”.
If you believe in the motto (which makes a lot of sense), and you are working on a content-related startup, Randal Olson has recently posted a gift for you. In a blog post, he shows the number of posts on Reddit across different subreddits.
A picture of the large timeline is below:
In this graph, you can see that Reddit gained traction within a particular niche which was most programming related (apparently this niche loves NSFW content also). In the first year or two, it covered other topics that programmers/hackers may find interesting, such as politics and science. In 2008, Reddit went mainstream, allowing users to create whatever subreddits they liked. And as a result, Reddit as a whole changed dramatically. Today’s Reddit is dominated by images, memes, videos, advice, and funnies.
Some look at it and cry out “Reddit has gone mainstream!”, or even worse, “Reddit has gone downhill with stupid memes and garbage”. That is one way to look at it. Another way to see this is to understand that the users have spoken. This is the Reddit they want. More specifically, this is the content they want.
If you are building a content-related startup, this information is gold.
If you are building a general content-related startup, you better allow users to share some combination of images, memes, videos, advice, and/or funnies.
If you are building a niche content-related startup, make sure to take a good look at this graph. The right side of this graph is what users want. If you are going to target it niche, it shows you which niches you might want to start thinking about.
P.S. On a related note, last year, I wrote a blog post on the unbundling of Reddit. It is still continuing today, and if you are building a startup that unbundles a niche of Reddit, this tells you where the big niches are.