Do blogs actually work?

Many of you who read this blog a couple of times a year will know that I prefer to take a pragmatic approach to “new” media.

I still haven’t upgraded for a second life, I love the press release (well maybe love is too strong a word) and I love the feeling of newsprint. Of course I see the potential of blogs, podcasts, RSS etc., but I don’t subscribe to those who do the cyber equivalent of wearing a sandwich board with “The End of the World (or traditional media) is Nigh”.

At any “New” PR conference I attend, you invariably get asked the question “it’s all very interesting but when will it go mainstream”.  And of course the answer is different for every country and market segment. Although there’s no question that the two biggest early adoptor “segments” are technology and politics.

Interestingly, a former colleague, who works at a reasonably sized tech firm told me yesterday that they did detailed analysis on product downloads over the past six months – we’re talking relatively large volumes – and they were staggered with the findings.

Over 40% of their product downloads came directly from a blog link.

Now that’s impressive – and not a sandiwch board in sight….

 

Postscript:

Jennifer McClure has a good piece in the Bulldog Reporter offering some tips for PR people who have to deal with (ahem) Web 2.0.  I’d love to know what people think of Katie Payne’s comment at the end of the piece.  Opportunistic or self serving advertising? You decide….

Slow down you blog too fast.. and other blog PR stuff

  • I have to say these two posts hit the bullseye for me.  Mason Cole and John Wagner tackle the issue of the hair trigger bloggers [Stuart has a similar post here.].  The knee jerk reactions that spread like widlfire across the blogosphere, with some notable exceptions, do nothing to build the credibility of the medium.  Instead it betrays an immaturity that says to me it’s not quite ready for the real-time. We need more balance.

 

  • One the other hand, the fantastic thing (potentially) about the blogosphere is the volume and diversity of opinion.  It’s incredibly interesting – though sometime very hard – to keep track of every blog.  However, sometimes its worth a good browse.  if you’re interested in getting your RSS reader wet, click over to Todd Andrlik who has pulled together a list of the “The Power 150 – America’s Top Marketing Blogs”.  Loads of food for thought among those links.

 

  • Steve Rubel has a post on how ZDnet is remunerating its bloggers based on the number of clicks their posts get. According to long-time trade journo, Mary Jo Foley:

 

 “It rewards people… who do a lot of work to make sure that their blogs are popular, which is what I do.”

 

  • Of all the new world technology, services etc., it strikes me that after blogs, the next most accessible audience channel is podacsting.  It has amazing potential as a communications and marketing channel, and as with all media if your content is right, you’ll build an audience.  One of the things possibly holding back corporate podcasts is the potential technical requirements. Scott Baradell’s client Blogtalk radio is offering a way to sidestep the technical issue. He’s even published five hacks for the PR pro. Worth a visit.

 

 

  • Finally, Richard Edelman comments on the recent laptop furore – I’ll say no more  – and Colin McKay has some feedback for him :-)

This book doesn’t need an RSS feed…

Joel Stein’s column in the LA Times has received a lot of link love from around the Interweb. That’s no surprise, anyone from the media willing to take a shot at the all-inclusive world of two-way conversation and cross-linking will always raise the ire of the blogerati.  But I like his piece.

Regardless of the motivation for Stein’s article, his central message is an interesting one.  It challenges the commonly held view of many in the online community that everything must be interactive and linkable.  The belief that this web page you’re reading is going to sweep away everything else.

Rubbish.

The complexity of human nature means that diversity is a reality.  I’m technically sophisticated, I understand the benefits of the online world, but I still enjoy reading – without the need for instant gratification via a comment link.  I sometimes enjoy lying in a vegatative state in front of the television without the need to participate in a poll.  I walk my dog without the need to subscribe to its RSS feed.  Of course sometimes I do want to get interactive and the ever developling online world has given me the opportunity to do that as the need arises.  But I don’t have to do it just because it’s there.

There’s no question that the online environment in general, and blogs in particular provide real value.  Just look at something like Dan Santow’s relatively new blog.  But the misconception that one online model fits all is ridiculous.  The idea that we all want to comment on everything we read, that we want to spend our days in interactive discussion is simplistic. We have lives… well most of us do.

The reality is that sometimes we just want to read opinions, sometimes we’ll want to jump in and sometimes we won’t be bothered.  The world is a crazy mixed up place – and it’s great because of that.  The online world and the media world are similarly diverse – that’s what’s make them interesting.

The blogeratti should spend more time analysing their own ivory tower rather than constantly flinging arrows at the peasants outside.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s amazing value online. Just let’s not make the mistake that one size fits all.  Experience teaches us that that approach normally doesn’t work for the majority.

So enjoy Joel’s rant, it’s a welcome hiatus.