Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 State of the Blogosphere by Brian Solis

From 2011-12 (Dec)

I hate that word, by the way…  Really, with a deep passion. 

Anyway, one of these days, when I have a chance, I’ve been working a bit on a piece with a similar theme.  Not so much because it is the end of the year, but because of all of the changes to my on-line profile over the last couple of months.

I’ve been doing this blog thing off and on for a long time in many different formats, longer than the word blog has been in existence, and I will say this…  With all of the different options out there, short form, long form, link oriented, picture oriented…  The “blogosphere” is far more confusing, the social media landscape is far more cluttered, now than it ever was before.

But that is not entirely true.

It is also less confusing than ever before, if you are purely a consumer.

If you are one of the 90% that purely consumes content, is it really that confusing?  No, you just find what you like and stick with it.  More options means more opportunities to find a platform you like, increasing the chances that one becomes a regular consumer of social media. 

And for the other 9% that fulfill the function of aggregators of information, sharing links and what not on Facebook, Twitter and what not, then I suspect, it is pretty much the same.  You find what you like from sources you like and pretty much stick with it.  The only real difference is that you take the next step and share what you find.  Then people from the 90% who share your interests start following you.

Again, pretty simple.

But for the 1% focusing on the creation of content, or some mix of aggregation and creation (which is where I see myself), things are very confusing these days. 

Unless you are already well established, where you are pretty much just looking at continuing with the core platform that established you in the first place and are looking merely to use the plethora of new social media formats (Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pintrest…) to augment and, perhaps, publicize or advertise your already successful site, page, blog, or profile, the emerging new choices offer some challenges, but those challenges are not “life or death.”  They are about growth, not survival.

However, if you are new on the scene, or launching in a new direction, then where do you start with all of this?  These are the challenges that I am currently facing, and this is why I find these sorts of articles so interesting right now.

I will conclude with the thought that finding the right balance and blend, the right peak in the social landscape on which to plant your flag, is life and death for any content creator in the current blogosphere.  And with all the choices available these days, getting this right is not always easy.

I’ll save my breakdown of what I am doing and what I have learned for my article, which I am planning on finishing as soon as I actually finish building this site.  For now, I’ll just throw up some excerpts from Solis’ article, focusing on the points that I find most relevant to my own experience the last few months.

Another note…  Solis tends to draw a line between Social Media and Blogs.  I am not sure I agree that they are two separate things, though I reserve the right to change my mind as I spend more time working on my analysis of the current state of Web 2.0.

The State of the Blogosphere 2011 - Brian Solis:

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.

…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.

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.

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.

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…

To help consolidate sources, I am also including some excerpts from Solis’ 2010 report…

The State of the Blogosphere 2010 - Brian Solis:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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