TagCorporate Blogging

State of the Blogosphere 2008 (brief summary)

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Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere is back, this time split up into five daily installments. (Start with the introduction.) What can I say? Some impressive numbers. Note that the data is a mix of stats gathered through Technorati and feedback gathered in a survey of some 1.100 bloggers (methodology).

First up, and hardly surprising, blogs are here to stay. Also, the lines between blogs and mainstream media (MSM) are blurring ever more. While top blogs are becoming more MSM, those mainstream media are adapting techniques of blogs. Fun fact: “95% of the top 100 US newspapers have reporter blogs (see The Bivings Group).”

Technorati also has some background on blogger demographics and motivations for us (Who Are The Bloggers). Sadly, the blogosphere is still strongly male-dominated: two thirds, globally, are male (that’s 73% for Europe, 57% for the U.S.). Bloggers are, on average, also well educated (70% have college degrees). Surprising to me: Nearly half are parents. Also, female bloggers are twice as likely to sell ads on their blogs.

In day 2, Technorati covererd The What and Why of Blogging. Not to go into too much detail here, one thing stood out for me and that’s the metrics bloggers stated to use to measure the success of their blogging efforts. The key success metric (for three out of four bloggers) is personal satisfaction, “with the average blogger looking at four distinct metrics. Personal satisfaction is by far the most popular measure of success, However, bloggers also track a variety of quantitative metrics ranging from revenue to number of subscribers or comments.”

Hardly surprising but worth mentioning anyway: The majority of bloggers stated to feel a positive impact of blogging on their professional life. (Like being better known in their industry or haveing used their blogs as a resume.) This is something I’m sure a lot of you would agree to. I sure do: even without actively pushing the topic, when speaking to prospective employers and clients my blog has always come up in the conversation, and never in a bad way.

Funny: About a third of bloggers received free products like DVDs, books or electronics. Personally, while I do get invites to services and the like all the time, I rarely get physical goods. In one somewhat absurd case a company offered to send me a laser printer cross-Atlantic from the U.S. West Coast to Berlin. (I didn’t accept.)

As I’m posting this, Technorati has made it to the third installment of the State of the Blogosphere, The How of Blogging. Here, you can find some info on how much bloggers invest annually (more if run ads, more in Europe), how they track their visitors (two thirds Google Analytics) and how they attract them (Technorati, Google, tags etc.). Nothing too surprising here. But only 17% of bloggers use mobile updating tools on their blogs, it should be interesting to watch how (or more likely: how quickly) that changes with iPhones, Android and other smart phones gaining so much traction lately.

So much for my very brief summary here. Over the next couple of days, there’ll be two more chunks of info. The two that are due should actually be quite interesting: The next installment will cover blogging for profit, the last one the role brands play in the blogosphere. For those updates, keep an eye on Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere page.

By the way, while Technorati gives you the rundown on what drives the blogosphere and looks back to the recent developments, there’s also a look at where we’re headed: Adam Ostrow of Mashable has a neat brief overview of trends and the future of blogging and social media as it was being discussed at BlogWorldExpo. (Buzzwords include such things as comment ownership, widgets, ad networks and Twitter.) A good, quick read.

How to pitch media, bloggers, the web at large?

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For PR folks, pitching to the web is a problem. Talking to a PR firm recently, we ended up chatting about the challenges traditional PR firms face online. You have experienced professionals who know the ropes, the tricks of the trade, and their journalists. But facing a diffuse mass of bloggers is a different story altogether. What can you do about it?

Enter the Social Media Release, a concept that has developed over the last few months, maybe a year or two. The short-short version is this: Provide bloggers (and other online media) with as much material in as many formats as possible. These folks want to pick the materials they use, comment it, mash it up, and stir it thoroughly.

Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig Are blogs like toys, fun but not professionally relevant? Not any more. (Image: Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig, released under Creative Commons.)

(For further reading I recommend: Brian Solis (read his stuff thoroughly, starting maybe with what he says about blogger relations, his definitive guide to social media releases and social media releases, everything you ever wanted to know as well as the evolution of the press release.) Also, PR-Squared has a well-maintained list of successful use-cases of social media releases in the wild. (Update: and they have a template, too.) Just to pick one of those examples, Ford knows how to work the web: Note how everything is embeddable and the tons and tons of topic-related RSS feeds?)

Of course, this means you lose control over how your message is used, adapted, changed. The old rules of traditional media don’t apply here. They just don’t, so don’t even try. This is a hard lesson to learn for both PR firms and big brands, i.e. their clients. It requires a whole new approach to interacting with your stakeholders out there, and to some degree a new company culture.

It’s also tough to identify which bloggers to pitch, which services to use, and mainly: how to react to negative reactions on the web. For every campaign, you’ll have to find a decent strategy that works. A few basics like what’s listed in the articles above sure helps (think RSS feeds, embeddable pictures and videos, information in as many formats as possible). Also, forget embargoes, but that should be clear anyway.

If you’re a PR firm: How do YOU address bloggers (or do you at all)? If you’re a blogger, what are your experiences with being pitched?

Seven rules for a corporate presence on Twitter

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Twitter still seems to be one of the bigger mysteries for many folks out there, particularly in the corporate sphere. No surprise, it’s one of those phenomena that aren’t easily understood at a first glance. (When looking at a few hundred web 2.0 services for a study I was working on, Twitter was one of the very few – maybe the only one – I thought wasn’t even worth signing up for. Err, right.)

So all the better that Joel Postman over at Socialized shares his experiences with corporate Twitter accounts. His seven rules for success:

  1. Create a Twitter profile that helps people verify your legitimacy
  2. Let consumers know who they are talking to
  3. Empower your Twitter representative to make a difference
  4. Protect consumer information
  5. Include your social media affiliations on your corporate web site news page
  6. Be human, and have a sense of humor
  7. Turn control over to “regular” employees

That’s the short-short version, so don’t miss out on Joel’s more in-depth explanations. Also, to get a better understand Twitter and where they’re coming from, I recommend this video interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Vator TV. Jack Dorsey spent 15 years writing dispatch software for couriers, taxis and 911, so he’s very familiar with the concept of background noise and what has been called ambient intimacy:

Four success factors for your organization’s blog

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Christian Kreutz of GTZ (the German cooperation enterprise for technical international cooperation and development) has worked with blogs in his organization for several years. In a series of posts (“From A-Z to Organization 2.0”) he shares his experiences with blogging and lists a number of examples and success factors.

Besides the use cases for blogging (like project management, public relations or stakeholder management), I found it particularly interesting to see how he estimates and weighs the different success factors. He identifies four main factors:

  • Preparation: 30%
  • Marketing: 20%
  • Engagement: 30%
  • Sustainability: 20% (“Do not underestimate the facilitation throughout the blog life span.”)

If you are struggling with your organization’s blog or are planning new blogging efforts you shouldn’t miss out on Christian’s post. Do you already run a successful corporate, non-profit or other organizational blog? Please share what you think of these factors!

Presentation: “What the f**k is social media?”

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Always a big fan of neat visualizations, particularly of complex topics, I found I really liked this 101 on social media by Marta Z. Kagan. Titled “What the f**k is social media“, Marta gives a quick, easy-to-understand rundown of the basic terminology paired with well-presented thoughts on why social media matter:

You can find more in Marta’s blog.

(via CyberSoc)