I've been having a grand time reading through Technorati's 2008 State of the Blogosphere. I absolutely love their annual release of information because as both a marketer and a communicator, I love to find out what sends people scrambling for their blog to share their thoughts. This year's report is pretty thorough and has a lot of juicy bits of info that give us insight into the communicators of the web. In this post though, I want to dive into the section that talks about what gets people blogging.
When I talk about blogging or social media in presentations, I tend to include a chart from one of the past Technorati reports.
What Sparks Those Blog Posts?
This image looks at the number of daily blog posts tracked by Technorati from the fall of 2004 to the winter of 2007. The team at Technorati has gone in and added markers to let you see what world events were taking place at different points in time. In some instances, the correlation between posting volume and topic is crystal clear.
During the fall of 2005, there's a sharp drop off in blogging activity. That drop took place in the days leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. With such a huge portion of the population either preparing for or fleeing from the storm, blogging activity fell sharply. There's then a huge burst in activity immediately after the storm came ashore and a second steep drop off when the levees break and things go crazy.
What really strikes me as telling about the chart though, is the enormous spike in the summer of 2006. Now chances are high if I'd asked you what the hottest blogging topic in 2006 was, you would NOT have said the Israel/Hezbollah conflict. In fact, I'd wager a great deal of you had even forgotten it happened. Yet there were more than 2.5 million posts made when that happened, over half a million more than any other event so far that year.
It's easy enough for us to write blogs off as the sites that talk about singular passions. The mother who blogs about her children, the consultant who blogs business advice, the gossip monger who blogs about celebrity romance. We see blogs as topical and focused...and to an extent they are.
What the latest Technorati data tells us though is that bloggers cover an average of five distinct topics. These topics tend to be related, but they still offer variation.
Here on Search Engine Guide, we blog about search marketing, blogging, social media, viral marketing and even a little bit of usability and site coding. On one of my hobby blogs, I blogged ONLY about bento lunches. On another hobby blog I covered topics like parenting, breast feeding, natural living, organic foods and my faith. While the most successful blogs still seem to focus on pretty tight niches, bloggers are growing and exploring and they're starting to broaden their horizons in order to hold the attention of their readers and themselves.
Bloggers Do Not Have One Track Minds
When Technorati decided to gather data on blog topics, they found further proof that blog topics are diversifying.
Both personal and professional topics are equally popular. Forty percent of bloggers consider their blogging topics outside of these categories. "Other" blog topics include: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, Internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.
Three-quarters of bloggers cover three or more topics. The average number of topics blogged about is five.
While few people will be surprised to see topics like technology, politics, business, family updates and gaming on the list...there were a few categories that surprised me. I didn't expect to learn that nearly 20% of bloggers regularly blog about religion or that 30% regularly blog about music and film. I also didn't really expect to find personal topics outweighed technology and business, but that's likely just a reflection of the way I view the web.
Which serves as a good wake up call to those of us in marketing.
It's easy for us to focus in on our own little niches and the areas in which we're comfortable. Easy to forget just how many people are out there having conversations on their blogs the same way they'd have conversations around the water cooler or over coffee.
It's something we need to remember as we look to build relationships with bloggers. We need to remember they are real people with varied and in-depth interests. We need to learn to look for cross-over in topics and we need to learn how to approach complimentary blogs rather than limiting ourselves to purely "on topic" blogs when it comes time to seek coverage.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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