Unlocking Business Growth: Leveraging Usenet’s Potential

Usenet is the best kept business secret in the world. There is a largely untapped market of millions of users, and it can help you reach new customers, expand your business, find new talent, and learn about trends you weren’t aware of.

Usenet (short for “User Network”) was originally created in 1979 and was one of the first non-governmental computer networks for sharing digital information. It was revolutionary and set the tone for what the Internet would eventually become.

Today it remains a vibrant part of the Internet, but one that few companies have taken the time to explore. However, there is enormous potential for reaching a highly dedicated audience and staying at the forefront of your industry.

Why Usenet?​

To understand how Usenet can be used as a business tool, it’s important to first understand what Usenet is and how it’s used today. Modern Usenet is a global network where people can connect, discuss a wide range of topics, and share posts with one another. It reaches a worldwide audience who have self-selected into interest groups.  Usenet requires an additional subscription on top of an Internet connection, so users tend to be more dedicated to their interests than the average person online. They have chosen to pay more money specifically to talk about it. Another thing that is attractive to businesses is that Usenet is an ad-free platform, instead running on a subscription model. That means less competition for eyes on your product or service.

How to Use Usenet to Benefit Your Business​

There are lots of ways that you can grow your business with Usenet.

Pitch Yourself to a Fanbase​

The most obvious way to get in front of people who are likely to take advantage of your offer is to find related newsgroups and post about what you do there. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you go this direction.
  1. Don’t just post an ad. Usenet is unlike the Web or other Internet services that rely on advertising to thrive. There isn’t an expectation of advertising on Usenet, so it tends to be frowned upon. Rather, consider that you have direct access to real people who want to have conversations with another real person that happens to run a business. They want to see that you understand the topic, that you’re a fellow enthusiast and not just trying to make a quick buck. If you do that, most users will appreciate the access they have to somebody who shares their passion and has a related business. These types of personal connections have always been key to maximizing your Usenet efforts.
  2. Don’t cross post. If you’re in several newsgroups around the same topic (related to what you’re selling), the odds are good that there will be users who are also in those same newsgroups. If they see the same post in several newsgroups, they will call it out and you’ll lose credibility. It’s not as efficient, but tailoring your message to every newsgroup will produce better results.

Look for New Talent​

Did you know that the first job posting for Amazon was on Usenet? Jeff Bezos posted the first job advertisement for Amazon on Usenet in August 1994. This job posting was made in the newsgroup “misc.jobs.offered” and sought programmers to help build what would become one of the world’s largest online retailers. The post highlighted the early ambitions of Amazon, mentioning the opportunity to work with highly talented people on re-engineering the book publishing industry. Bezos described the venture as a well-capitalized startup aiming to use the Internet to offer a wide selection of books. This advertisement is now considered a significant piece of internet and business history, marking the humble beginnings of Amazon.com. To this day, people still look for talent by advertising positions on Usenet. The people reading tend to be tech savvy, willing to learn new systems, and highly dedicated. Since there are fewer businesses really leveraging Usenet, there is also a smaller chance that your job posting will get buried like it can on major job sites.

Expand Your Own Knowledge​

You may be an expert in your field, but the smartest people are aware of all they have yet to learn. Because Usenet is so big and so specialized, it’s a great place to share ideas, learn new technologies, and stay ahead of the intellectual curve.

Bottom Line​

More businesses don’t use Usenet because many simply don’t know about it. But anyone willing to take the time to learn its complex ecosystem can find a whole new world to expand into. It is easier to become a subject matter expert when there are fewer people fighting for attention, and you’re getting access to a new audience that is frequently ignored. So spend some time getting to know Usenet, join the community, and grow your business.