Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks? His reply was “Because that’s where the money is”.
When I look at some web initiatives I find myself asking is this a Willie Sutton initiative? That is, are we targetting a mass market? A space where visitors will naturally congregate. Or are we blazing a new trail?
It seems obvious that expectations about visitor numbers, levels of engagement, impact of an initiative need to reflect where in the webcology we are positioning ourselves so why then do I still have discussions with people who expect Facebook levels of traffic for an initiative which is either of specific importance but limited wider attraction or so far off the beaten track as to be invisible?
In the former case, you may well get very intense and active participants as it can be something which the target audience feel passionate about but if the business case said you would get 1000000 hits a day then you are stuffed if you only get 100 people a day visiting the site, even if they are committed users who find it really important and are very vocal supporters of the engagement.
So the key conversation to have is right at the very start. Because while it may be tricky at times to transition a niche site into the mainstream, it is much easier than promising to rule the mainstream and only achieving niche.