Part 14 in a series introducing my new book, The End of Business as Usual...this series serves as the book's prequel.
When you think about social media, what do you envision? Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Foursquare? If you're like me, blogs would have made the top of the list. But how can blogs survive in a time when the attention of connected consumers is not only precious, it's elusive. After all, people can read no more than 140 characters at a time right? With the surplus of networks and a river of social activity that washes away personal information levees, how can we be anything but distracted?
I believe that we are indeed overwhelmed, but we are not distracted. We are in fact focused. Let me restate that last sentence. We are focused, against a different standard than that of five years ago, on what is important to us. If long-form content is shared within our interest graph and possesses relevant information that is true to our interests, it will be consumed. If it content, no matter how great its length, is true to who I am, I will share it. Not just because I want others to share in its relevance, but because doing so is a form of self-expression and the words of others can lend to a piece of the puzzle that completes me online and offline.
Over the years, blogs have formed the foundation of social media, democratizing the ability to publish thoughtful commentary, build a noteworthy community and equalize influence along the way.
Blogs are underrated and largely underestimated. Not only are they platforms for self-expression, shared experiences and observations, they are becoming a live index of history in the making as told by people for the people. Each year, I take to my blog to share the state of the blogosphere based on the annual report published by Technorati. Going back to 2004, Technorati has documented how blogs have changed the landscape for information commerce to not only provide insight into the world of blogs and the bloggers whose voices we are growing to trust across a variety of topics, but also into the numbers behind their ascendance.
The Age of Influence
Bloggers span from hobbyists to professionals, both part-time and full-time, corporate and also entrepreneurs. The vast majority of bloggers polled by Technorati fall into either the Gen Y or Gen X category. It's important to note that this isn't reflective of the age demographics of who's reading blogs, simply which age groups are actively publishing blogs.
Where in the World is my Blog?
The study was distributed only in English, yet bloggers from all over the world participated. While the majority of respondents blog from the United States, Europe, Latin America, and South Asia made notable appearances.
This reminds me of a trip during the winter of 2010 to Gdańsk, Poland where I had the opportunity to present at the annual Blog Forum event. To this day, it's still memorable for many reasons. First, it was held in the original shipyards noted for its role in the Solidarity (Solidarność) movement recognized as one of the first steps in leading the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe. Second, the enthusiasm around blogging was euphoric, reminding me of the early days of social media in San Francisco circa 2005/2006. I presented the 2010 State of the Blogosphere at this event and here we are, one year later, and the passion only continues to intensify among creators who channel relevance through words and media.
The Blogger Experience
Bloggers are a diverse bunch. The majority of casual and professional bloggers have posted their views and experiences over the last two years. However, the concentration of bloggers closely follows with many blogging 4-6 and also greater than 6 years.
At the same time, bloggers aren't focused on any one property. Professionals will blog at as many as four properties. This is up from an average of two blogs noted in the 2010 report.
It's Time to Blog
In aggregate, most bloggers will spend anywhere between one-to-three hours blogging per week followed by three-to-five and five-to-10 weekly hours. 25% of professional bloggers are dedicating upwards of 40 hours or more per week. I'm not a professional blogger in that I do not derive revenues from my posts. But, I do invest over 10 hours on a weekly basis on researching and writing blog posts.
In terms of frequency, bloggers across the board will publish two-to-three posts per week. However, a notable percentage of professional, corporate, and entrepreneurial bloggers post once or twice per day.
Of those bloggers who are investing greater volumes of time and energy in blogs, it's for good reason. It's not just about pontification or sharing experiences in long-form. Bloggers can point to the ROI specifically...and it's encouraging many to invest more in their blogging routines.
Most note that blogging has proven to be valuable for promoting their business or to one's profession. Additionally, professional, casual, and corporate bloggers city audience engagement as motivation to create.
And, bloggers find that their work is getting taken more seriously as sources of trusted information and news.
From Traditional to New Media
As many as 40% of today's professional and 35% of corporate bloggers once worked as a writer, reporter, producer, etc. in traditional media. The skillset is certainly optimized in terms of content creation. Learning social skills becomes critical for their continued success. On the corporate or entrepreneur fronts, the move to brand publishing or brand journalism as it's often referenced, appears to be gaining momentum...thankfully. I'm relieved to hear that businesses are taking a more useful and informative approached to leading customers toward insight and resolution. My patience for marketing speak eroded long ago.
What is Your Source of Inspiration?
I found this slide interesting and also not surprising at the same time. Among the top influences for bloggers to find material to blog about is...well...other blogs. That also says everything at the same time. Blogs are often viewed as the people's press and there can be an element of implied trust that yields the type of power that traditional media possessed in its golden years.
Nobodies are the New Somebodies
Brands look to influencers to help communicate the value or mission of the business to hopefully drive favorable actions. Bloggers continue to prove instrumental in brand marketing, advertising, and engagement. Let's set aside the SEO and SMO advantages of blog influence for a moment. Let's talk about everyday consumer influence. In the social web, people make decisions based on the information that's presented to them in either the results of their search or the words of their friends and peers. Influence is the ability to cause effect or change behavior. Technorati found that between 40-50% of all bloggers, whether personal or professional blog about brands. The advantage of blogs for brands comes down to resonance. Blogs will live longer than Tweets or any status update for that matter.
Upwards of 70% of bloggers are already following their favorite brands in social media.
And knowing this importance on the relationships between bloggers and their communities, only 40% in aggregate have ever been approached by brands. Remember, it's not just about the A-list, it's about themagic middle!
With the love affair content creators, creators and consumers experience with the micromedia in social networks, blog posts contribute to the library of knowledge around any subject. They offer the ability to express perspective and offer context in statusphere and they influence decisions, actions, and behavior.Whether it's to demonstrate thought leadership, earn authority, generate leads, change perception or sentiment, blogs continue to lead the way while disrupting traditional media along the way. For businesses, the time is now to embrace your influencers and their networks, of all shapes and sizes, while blogging to become influential in the process.
Live to blog.
Blog to influence.