The question we ask ourselves when examining the state of the blogosphere is whether or not the cup is half full or half empty? Personally, I believe the answer lies in the nature of circumstances. If drinking from the glass, it is then half empty. If pouring, it is half full.
With the rise of Twitter, Posterous, Tumblr and other forms of micromedia, many believed that the glass was half empty. Blogging appeared passé as many individuals opted for microblogging, investing in the art of the short form. After all, the blogosphere at one point seemed to succumb to the allure of the statusphere and the effortlessness and trendiness of rapid-fire, micro publishing. But, something was lost in translation over the last few years…context.
Today, 100 million Tweets flew across Twitter.
On Facebook this month, the average user created 90 pieces of content and contributed to the more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) collectively shared each month.
But blogging perseveres – as it should. It is a place where context, thoughtfulness and continuity are rewarded with inbound links, ReTweets, bookmarks, comments and Likes. Blogs are the digital library of our intellect, experience, and vision. Their longevity far outlasts the short-term memory of Twitter or any other micro network. In fact, with Twitter, we are simply competing for the moment. With blogs, we are investing in our digital legacy.
The State of the Blogosphere 2010
Since 2004, Technorati has published its annual State of the Blogosphere report. As it indexes over 1 million blogs, Technorati is the authority. This year, the team dove deeper into the blogs with a focus on female bloggers and mobile blogging. No matter which network you call home, blogs are the pillars of the democratized web. Blogging sets the foundation for influence providing an intellectual epicenter for vision and knowledge.
To begin, let’s take a look at the residence of bloggers worldwide.
Almost one-half of all bloggers reside in the United States with 29% blogging in Europe.
Respondents for the survey, which was administered in English, represented 24 countries. 38% of respondents resided in North America – 33% in the United States specifically. Participants from Europe account for 19%.
Two-thirds of bloggers according to Technorati are male. Naturally, we see that a majority of bloggers post as a hobby or as a part-time occupation. However, now we see that a notable percentage, equal to that of part-timers, are corporate as well as self-employed bloggers.
According to Technorati, 65% of bloggers around the world fall between the ages of 18-44. Hobbyists and part-timers tend to range between 25-34. Self-employed bloggers account for the majority of 35-44 year olds.
Blogging’s Incumbents vs. Newcomers
Blogging, over the years, continues to move toward the mainstream.. Half of all bloggers who responded are currently working on their second blog. 81% have blogged for over two years. And for those who doubted the future of blogging, 96% have blogged for at least one year. This graph shows us that a majority of bloggers are indeed veterans. As we can see, corporate bloggers represent a significant percentage of those who have been blogging for more than 6 years. The second largest contingent of bloggers have done so for 2-4 years, followed by a group of dedicated writers who have been at it between 4-6 years.
Born to Blog
What might have started as a form of self-expression has officially graduated into fully fledged self-actualization. 30% of corporate bloggers admit to blogging as a way to get published or featured in traditional media. 57% of self-employed bloggers share their expertise and thought-leadership as a way of attracting new clients. Across the board however, the preponderance of bloggers speak their mind to meet and connect with like-minded people. Blogs form the basis for the formation of interest graphs, which, for all intents and purposes, represent the next stage of social networking. Close behind, a significant faction of bloggers use the platform to speak their mind as tied to areas of interest, specifically hobbyists, part-timers and the self-employed.
Why we blog today and why we blog tomorrow may in fact, represent maturation. When asked about the future, most replied with the intention of blogging more frequently. Additionally, many planned on expanding the topics they currently cover. Surprising and also not surprising, many bloggers hope to publish a book and also expand their reach through the contribution to other blogs. Also worthy of mention, bloggers are looking to increasingly create content through their mobile devices.
The Building Blocks of the Blogosphere
When it comes to technology, blogging is an interesting discussion to host. Traditional blogs require hosting on a “traditional” blogging platform. Accordingly, we see that an overwhelming slice of bloggers host their blog on WordPress, followed by Blogger. It’s safe to assume that next year, we’ll see the rise of a new form of blogging platforms, those dedicated to simplicity with an emphasis on mobility, curation, instant presentation, and community.
The Media in Social Media
To tell a more complete story, bloggers must balance text with other forms of media. The weapon of choice? Photos…
Indeed, after the focus on the rise of video in social media, photos remain as the preferred visual to help tell a story. Video is however, second across the board. Audio, music or spoken, follows in a distant third.
Blogging without an audience is merely a public journal. Bloggers are sharing their soul for a greater cause…your attention, your actions, and ultimately, the prospect of circulation. As such, writing is not enough to build desired audiences and desired outcomes. 55% of bloggers, including me, list their blog on Technorati in the attempts to attract a greater array of visitors. As such, a significant number of bloggers use Technorati tags to help boost their posts and blog when visitors search keywords.In general, Social Media Optimization (SMO) remains underestimated. While it’s an extension of SEO, it is none the less as important as SEO…it’s traditional search vs. social search.
It’s also worth noting that no blog is an island. Even with RSS, bloggers take to Twitter and Facebook to help create bridges between social and interest graphs to related content. And, we can’t overlook the act of commenting on other blogs in the hopes for reciprocal traffic.
It’s important to note here that the majority of bloggers do not directly link their blog to Twitter. But, as you can see, the appeal of automation sways many. Please, disconnect auto syndication.
Perhaps we should follow the trend of those bloggers who DO NOT link their blogs to Facebook.
The Benefits of Blogging
Let it be said that there’s money in insight and opinion.
Technorati reports that most bloggers classify themselves as hobbyists. However, those who make money at blogging, directly or indirectly (speaking, books, etc.) tend to do so on their own. For those who are considering the investment in a blog or those weighing the advantages of continuing to do so, let’s keep in mind an important maxim, you get out of it, what you put into it. For many, blogging has helped provide greater visibility into their industry. Research and writing usually equate to insight and comprehension. When you add a dash of perspective to it, we realize the value of a blogging platform. A strong contingent of bloggers also state the sharing views and observations results in the attraction of new business and clientele. Perhaps most important, but third in this study, blogging positions its financiers and the company they represent as thought leaders.
Blogging is rich with indirect opportunities, in which their presentation is commensurate with your dedication, perspective, and uniqueness.
Visibility is the minimum honor for thoughtfulness and dependability. An enviable array of bloggers are tapped to speak at industry events. Additionally, an overwhelming majority are tasked with contributing to industry press.
The Mobile Lifestyle
With the rise of iPads and mini-iPads (iPhones…it’s a joke about how the lack of AT&T service relegates the iPhone to the functionality of a smaller iPad), mobile blogging is enticing bloggers toward brevity…not because of the lack of insight or things to say, but simply because to dive deeper into thoughts, analysis or vision on a mobile device would prove daunting. So, in order to remain visible, some bloggers are writing shorter posts as a bet against presence in favor for substance.
2011 and the Future of the Blogosphere
Blogging will continue to evolve, gaining importance as time goes on. In 2009 and 2010, we saw microblogs and tumblelogs such as Posterous and Tumblr gain in prominence and universality. Tumblr alone boasts over 6 million users and 1.5 billion monthly pageviews and its only continuing to flourish. Unlike traditional platforms such as WordPress and Blogger, microblogs simplify and expedite the process of sharing ideas, experiences via text as well as other forms of rich media. But unlike Twitter and other micromedia, microblogs have memory. They still serve as a repository for the brand “you” and all that you represent…when strategically cultivated of course.
The evolution of social graphs into interest graphs sets the stage for a more efficient and connected network that combines context and attention, linking one another to the people and information they seek. In 2011 the social media landscape will undergo an interesting transformation as it ushers in a genre of information commerce and the 3C’s of social content, creation, curation, and consumption. While blogging typically resides in the upper echelons of the social media hierarchy, new services further democratize the ability to publish and propagate information. The digerati and everyday people alike will unite in the creation and dissemination of social objects.
Blogs will remain as the hallmark of expertise and opinion. Microblogs will empower those with a voice to easily share their perspective without the emotional and time commitment required of blogging. Micromedia will serve as the bridges between the events, observations, and social objects that bind us.
2011 is the year of information curation and the dawn of the curator. Curators introduce a new role into the pyramid of Information Commerce. The traditional definition of curator is someone who is the keeper of a museum or other collection. In social media, a curator is the keeper of the interest graphs that are important to them. By discovering, organizing, and sharing relevant and interesting content from around the Web through their social streams of choice, curators invest in the integrity of their network as well as their relationships. Information becomes currency and the ability to recognize something of interest as well as package it in a compelling, consumable and also sharable format is an art. Curators earn greater social capital for their role in qualifying, filtering, and refining the content introduced to the streams that connect their interest graphs.
Tools, networks and services that cater to the role of the curator will emerge, with several already leading the way. Storify, Curated.by, Pearltrees, Scoop.it, and Paper.li are becoming the coveted services of choice amongst curators as they not only enable the repackaging and dissemination of information, they do so in captivating and engaging formats. Like blog posts, curated content also represent social objects and curation services will spark conversations and reactions, while also breathing new life and extending the reach of existing content – wherever it may reside.
Curators play an important role in the evolution of new media, the reach of information, and the social nicheworks that unite as a result. Curators promote interaction, collaboration, as well as enlightenment. More importantly, services that empower curators will also expand the topography for content creation. Forrester estimates that 70% of social media users are simply consumers, those who search and consume the content available today…but never say anything in public about it. However, the ease of curation combined with the pervasiveness of microblogging starts to entice consumers to share information, converting the static consumer into a productive curator or creator.
Regardless of platform, blogging is a gift and an exercise in the democratization of information and the equalization of influence. With creation and curation increasing the exchange of information commerce, we are moving new media toward the mainstream. As such, what you consume and also what you share factor into the development of interest graphs and social nicheworks as well as the overall direction of new media. How will this change how and what you share?
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