The State of the Blogosphere 2011

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 the magic 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.

Order The End of Business as Usual today…

Part 1 – Digital Darwinism, Who’s Next
Part 2
– Social Media’s Impending Flood of Customer Unlikes and Unfollows
Part 3
– Social Media Customer Service is a Failure!
Part 4
– I think we need some time apart, it’s not me, it’s you
Part 5
– We are the 5th P: People
Part 6
– The State of Social Media 2011: Social is the new normal
Part 7
– I like you, but not in that way
Part 8
– Are You Building a Social Brand or a Social Business?
Part 9
– CMO’s are at the Crossroads of Customer Transactions and Engagement
Part 10
– From Social Commerce to Syndicated Commerce
Part 11
– You can’t go back to create a new beginning, but you can begin to change the ending
Part 12 – How to Make Customer Service Matter Again Part 1
Part 13 – How to Make Customer Service Matter Again Part 2
_____

Image Credit: Shutterstock (Edited)

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  • Christina Scharfe Lambach

    A really nice piece of documentation for why we as PR-agencies should continue working with bloggers and not throw all eggs in the facebook/twitter basket. could be really interesting to have a closer look on blog topics though. In scandinavia we have seen really stron blogs growing within politics, fashion and food whereas other topics are not yet that strong – ex. parental/mom-blog are lacking behind as well as design and branding. Any good sources of inspiration for that?

  • Christina Scharfe Lambach

    A really nice piece of documentation for why we as PR-agencies should continue working with bloggers and not throw all eggs in the facebook/twitter basket. could be really interesting to have a closer look on blog topics though. In scandinavia we have seen really stron blogs growing within politics, fashion and food whereas other topics are not yet that strong – ex. parental/mom-blog are lacking behind as well as design and branding. Any good sources of inspiration for that?

  • http://twitter.com/PolishJedi Mirek Polyniak

    Despite of a few false prophets who claimed that blogosphere is dead most people can notice that it’s really thriving (enough for me to check my blog’s stats). And it became a part of a SM ecosystem with Facebook, Twitter and hopefully G+. In my opinion bloggers, due to the rising disbelief in marketing, will be more & more influential providing they can preserve their independence of opinions. Hence it’s a great communication/marketing platform for brands if they know how to deal with bloggers.

    BTW: it’s very nice for me to read your words about Blog Forum in Gdańsk as I also was there. It was a great event – this year’s edition wasn’t worse at all :-) 

  • http://twitter.com/PolishJedi Mirek Polyniak

    Despite of a few false prophets who claimed that blogosphere is dead most people can notice that it’s really thriving (enough for me to check my blog’s stats). And it became a part of a SM ecosystem with Facebook, Twitter and hopefully G+. In my opinion bloggers, due to the rising disbelief in marketing, will be more & more influential providing they can preserve their independence of opinions. Hence it’s a great communication/marketing platform for brands if they know how to deal with bloggers.

    BTW: it’s very nice for me to read your words about Blog Forum in Gdańsk as I also was there. It was a great event – this year’s edition wasn’t worse at all :-) 

  • http://twitter.com/PolishJedi Mirek Polyniak

    Despite of a few false prophets who claimed that blogosphere is dead most people can notice that it’s really thriving (enough for me to check my blog’s stats). And it became a part of a SM ecosystem with Facebook, Twitter and hopefully G+. In my opinion bloggers, due to the rising disbelief in marketing, will be more & more influential providing they can preserve their independence of opinions. Hence it’s a great communication/marketing platform for brands if they know how to deal with bloggers.

    BTW: it’s very nice for me to read your words about Blog Forum in Gdańsk as I also was there. It was a great event – this year’s edition wasn’t worse at all :-) 

  • http://twitter.com/PolishJedi Mirek Polyniak

    Despite of a few false prophets who claimed that blogosphere is dead most people can notice that it’s really thriving (enough for me to check my blog’s stats). And it became a part of a SM ecosystem with Facebook, Twitter and hopefully G+. In my opinion bloggers, due to the rising disbelief in marketing, will be more & more influential providing they can preserve their independence of opinions. Hence it’s a great communication/marketing platform for brands if they know how to deal with bloggers.

    BTW: it’s very nice for me to read your words about Blog Forum in Gdańsk as I also was there. It was a great event – this year’s edition wasn’t worse at all :-) 

  • http://twitter.com/PolishJedi Mirek Polyniak

    Despite of a few false prophets who claimed that blogosphere is dead most people can notice that it’s really thriving (enough for me to check my blog’s stats). And it became a part of a SM ecosystem with Facebook, Twitter and hopefully G+. In my opinion bloggers, due to the rising disbelief in marketing, will be more & more influential providing they can preserve their independence of opinions. Hence it’s a great communication/marketing platform for brands if they know how to deal with bloggers.

    BTW: it’s very nice for me to read your words about Blog Forum in Gdańsk as I also was there. It was a great event – this year’s edition wasn’t worse at all :-) 

  • http://twitter.com/PolishJedi Mirek Polyniak

    Despite of a few false prophets who claimed that blogosphere is dead most people can notice that it’s really thriving (enough for me to check my blog’s stats). And it became a part of a SM ecosystem with Facebook, Twitter and hopefully G+. In my opinion bloggers, due to the rising disbelief in marketing, will be more & more influential providing they can preserve their independence of opinions. Hence it’s a great communication/marketing platform for brands if they know how to deal with bloggers.

    BTW: it’s very nice for me to read your words about Blog Forum in Gdańsk as I also was there. It was a great event – this year’s edition wasn’t worse at all :-) 

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  • Dave Kean

    Some interesting data, clearly blogs are not dead, it’s thriving, vibrant medium that’s getting more and more polished all the time. That’s a credit to those who are driving this industry and as more professionals cross over from “old media” it’s only going to continue forcing everyone raise their game year after year. This can only adds to the credibility professional bloggers are slowly building.

    My question, or concern perhaps, is where is the audience? Bloggers read blogs, we know that. But is new media making inroads into “old media” territory?

    Really enjoyed “The end of Business as Usual”, really good read.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Thank you for the comment and for reading the book Dave. Personally I see that a majority of readers here and those of my peers are largely consumers and curators, not creators. I will pour through the Technorati data to see what I find. This was just a taste of what’s in their report. Cheers!

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  • http://twitter.com/Prospectrs Travis Piepho

    This is an interesting post Brian. I found the information on demographics of bloggers to be insightful. It is good to know who interacts the most with the blogosphere.

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  • http://web-promo.com.ua web promo

    Awesome site. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. 

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  • http://twitter.com/GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    great post looking forward to another year interesting to look back on this at the end of 2012

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  • http://www.eventsbuz.com/ Anerok

    Excellent analytical data and very useful. Thanks for sharing great analysis.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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