Monday, March 2, 2009

The Curious Case of the Blog

Whilst watching television earlier this week, I saw an advertisement for Sky News' political correspondent Adam Boulton's blog. Whilst this event was nothing remarkable in itself, it did get me thinking about the position of the blog in our society. Whilst references to blogging are becoming increasingly prevalent in both the online and offline media, I am dubious as to whether this represents an actual increase in societal uptake thereof. I am convinced that despite an undeniable increase in the platform's visibility, the degree of blogging adoption by the general public is still comparatively low.

What's in a Tweet?
Those actively engaged in the creation of online content seem significantly more likely to author a blog. Notably, many of those on Twitter seem to have a blog. Admittedly I am basing this supposition on the number of tweets I see advising other users to check out a recent post, however that may simply indicate that those I choose to follow have a greater propensity to blogging than others. This suggestion is hardly surprising; the majority of 'Creator' type Internet users are likely to engage in the creation of content across platforms. Blog visibility is therefore likely to prove somewhat deceptive, as those platform users highlighting posts of interest are likely to be responsible for creating blogs of their own elsewhere. Duplicate references to content across platforms may have resulted in blogging appearing more mainstream than is actually the case.

Blogging; the Realm of the Geek?
In spite of blog related references being on the rise, I remain sceptical as to whether we have truly seen the platform go mainstream. In the UK, the number of people actually professing to running a blog is still relatively low. General consensus continues to categorize blogging as the hobby of the 'geek'; a shame given the platform's capacity to advance the conversation. It should be noted that in spite of the comparatively small number of users actively engaging in creating blog content; the Forrester Social Technographics Profile tool suggests that only 15% of UK Internet users fall into the 'Creator' bracket, significantly more users are likely to interact with said material, perhaps even unknowingly. Whilst the number of those engaging in blog authoring is still relatively low, the number of 'Spectators' interacting with this content emphasises the ongoing significance thereof. Clearly it would be naive for organisations to avoid engaging with these users.

Social Media in Society
Whilst certain social platforms have unquestionably achieved mainstream status, most notably Facebook and increasingly Twitter, serious blog creation remains somewhat specialised. That is not to say that this is justification to avoid establishing an organisational presence therein. As the quality of blogged material continues to increase, the number of Internet users interacting with this material is likely to continue to rise. By appropriately targeting and engaging relevant bloggers, organisations can help to ensure that their content reaches interested parties. Has the blog achieved mainstream status? That is clearly debatable. The value of the content created by these Internet users is however undeniable; particularly as the number of spectators remains high. This is undoubtedly an opportunity not to be missed.

What are your thoughts? Has blogging gone mainstream, or does it remain a product of the 'geek'? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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