The blogosphere is growing, but is it just yardstick measurement?

Today the Technorati "state of the blogosphere" was released with great fanfare on the blogosphere. For most of the day, it sat on top of Memeorandum - and rightfully so, as it is a big story for bloggers.

From the post ....

In summary:

  • Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
  • It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
  • 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
  • Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour
And, that is great news for those of us in PR that are touting blogs as a great tool to clients. And, I love data points. Always have, which is why I always had a good relationship with my analyst at IDC.

But, for corporations that are looking to launch blogs, what do these stats really tell us? Okay, a lot of blogs are being launched, and Technorati is tracking alot ... but that just really means more "consumer generated media" that we can track, talk to - we don't pitch, we participate in the conversation - and, well, just read.

But, what about the hard stats? Where's the measurement for businesses, on how influential blogs are for sales and influence ... among business people. That is the data that business people need.

I was discussing this over IM this afternoon with another PR blogger - in PR, it is about the upsell to the executives, and executives like data points. But, they don't want just traffic data points, or how blogging is growing exponentially. They want hard data that shows how blogging is affecting sales or exposure.

And, the fact is that no one has those figures, only "anecdotal" information that is just quantitative. We have all read the stories about how blogs are working with consumers, helping companies become part of the conversation ... but is that enough to get large corporations to jump in to the fray.

This all goes goes back to the old PR argument of quality versus quantity. Which is better - PR by yardstick or PR by message points? So, now we just have data for blogging by yardstick, but we are looking for blogging by message points ... or something else that we can point to that says "yes, this is what blogging does."

The blogging colleague had a good point - if he can't get quantity from any other source, at least right now, he'll take the Technorati data because it gives him *something* to go to executives with, to show how blogging is growing.

For now, that is as good as it gets ... but we need another yard stick to get more corporations involved.

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10 comments

  1. For those that want some real-world validity to the power of blogs, the Nat'l Assoc of Manufacturers is a good case study (and, no it's not a client).
    One example is:
    http://blog.nam.org/archives/2006/04/thank_you_blog.php
    or try
    http://tinyurl.com/f3nn2

    In that, it talks about the response to comments on a Dept of the Interior proposal.

    Like a lot of things in PR and media relations, cold, hard facts and justification will not come easy.

    Our best bet is to use case studies to show the power of media or communications strategy and tactic.
    Mike

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  2. I believe it has a little to do with the whole "chicken or the egg" argument. Do blogs help the company communicate with their clients and help revenue? Or does having a client coincidently come across your blog when revenues are up help spark their interest?
    I believe that blogs are a good way to help a large corporation feel smaller and more intimate to customers. Do I feel that they would be hard to pitch to executives? Yes. A blog makes a company vulnerable. It is putting your dirty laundry out there for all to see.
    It is an excellent way to stay transparent. A consumer/customer of a company wants to know what is going on behind the scenes and a blog can do that.
    I agree with you Jeremy that it is going to take some convincing to top executives with statistics. They like to see facts. They like to know that the money they will spend on creating and maintaining a blog is worth it. With the Technorati findings, we have a place to start.

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  3. I've been asking this question for awhile now -- is blogging helping anyone grow their business?

    The answers I get back are related to personal growth, not business growth. Even for small or mid-sized consultants, blogging doesn't appear to be driving revenue or client acquisition.

    Will we find in time that blogging is good for a lot of things, but marketing isn't one of them? Could be.

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  4. I don't have any first-hand experience to talk about the business benefits. But, if you are not in the blogosphere and something erupts -- like Hilton, like Kryptonite, like so on and so on -- then a company can suffer.

    So, like many others (i.e., Jeremy) have said, not all companies should or need to blog. But, all (most, I'd say) should monitor and participate.
    Mike

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  5. I keep telling my boss that the Internet will be a big success one day.

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  6. There are lots of great measures of business success -- you just have to find them. Elisa Camahort of Worker Bees is doing some great revenue measurement from blogging for theaters. Software company Intuit calculates ROI based on the value of a satisfied customer. We calculate the value based on the number of new contacts. Its not that complicated, you just need systems in place to track this stuff.

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  7. Thanks KD, but I was being vague on what I am looking for for a reason. There are certain stats that aren't really out there yet that isn't consumer focused.

    Plus, stats and measurement is only half the equation, as you know. It's then figuring out the information.

    I know Elisa - I'll ping her about her stats. Thanks!

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  8. I think the 'blog-plosion' is also empowering disgruntled consumers to speak out. Citizen-marketers and complainers are driving blog growth, or even vice-versa.

    Don't like a product? Forget customer service, as they’re likely part of the problem. Instead, start a blog and bitch about them. Consumerist.com is just one of many for that.

    As far as helping business grow, that's a hard one. There's growth in as much as the brand is building a relationship which leads to sales (hopefully), but so much of the blogsosphere is about ideas, not tangible products. In the previous example of consumerist, the editor there was hired by Gawker after running his own little blog for less than a year. It paid off for him.

    I liken it to an identity campaign for a brand. It’s not one thing that will make you a success and get sales. It’s all your marketing efforts. POS, TV, radio, word-of-mouth, website, blog, PR, event promotion, etc. They are pieces of the puzzle.

    Ultimately, a blog's benefit will be the insights found there, either by someone posting or the blogger posting. And, it will take better software, (or a bunch of interns at an agency or brand) to sit there and sift through any relevant content. Keywords are one thing, but there's always a gem of a consumer insight hidden that needs to be found.

    Look at the hoopla surrounding the upcoming movie 'Snakes On A Plane' with Sam Jackson. A blogger sees a quote from the screenwriter involved on the movie, then posts it as a way to get tickets to the premiere. Word of mouse takes over and this movie will probably have twice the opening weekend it ever would have without the free PR.

    That’s but one example of blogging success. (Successful for the blogger, and the brand, in this case the movie studio.)

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  9. There are a number of measures that can be infered from Technorati but to get a real feel for 'influence', you really need to follow the links.

    I am for example in the 'discovery' phase of establishing a group site where the bloggers will all come from experienced people. I'm discovering those people through persistent linking which, in itself iis enlarging the audience. I'd like to think this gorup is influential in its own right. Inn this segment, the impact of a single buying decision could easily run in to $millions. Is that more or less effective than a mass market appeal?

    But if all of that is too difficult to contemplate then internal blogging has to be the place to start. What's the ROi on discovering process failure through blog complaints?

    Bottom line - blogs *might* influence revenues. They *will* influence costs.

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  10. The costs and risks of blogging are so low that you can experiment if you want empirical data for a particular industry/product.

    You may also categorize blogging as a tool of stakeholder communications, tightly niched. For example, each technical product evangelist at Adobe nee Macromedia added blogging to their media mix, in addition to participation in bulletin boards, listservs, and tech community events. (Niching also simplifies measurement.)

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