With the availability of free blogging tools like Blogger, WordPress and Typepad, barriers to entry for Web publishing have completely collapsed. But as was pointed out in a New York Times feature story last week about the millions of abandoned blogs on the Web, what’s easy to start is also easy to quit. The story cites Technorati data indicating that only 5 percent of the 133 million blogs tracked by the blog search engine have been updated in the past four months. For communications professionals, does that mean blogging is dead? Far from it.
As forward-thinking PR and marketing professionals have begun reaching out to bloggers, they are attempting to separate the wheat from the chaff. Influential, frequently updated blogs that feature news, opinion and product reviews are great targets for one-on-one outreach (not spray-and-pray pitching), and these are the sorts of blogs we research for Cision’s media database. But the more appropriate metaphor for finding these blogs may be the needle in a haystack. Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report 2008 shows that just 76,000 blogs have a Technorati Authority of at least 50, which means that 50 unique blogs have linked to the blog in question in the past 6 months. As inbound links have emerged as a key social metric for gauging influence online, that’s as good a measure as any of how many blogs “matter”. This elite group of 76,000 represents about 1 percent of all the blogs still being updated. That should come as a relief: from an outreach perspective (as opposed to monitoring), you needn’t concern yourself with millions of blogs, but out of the tens of thousands with real audiences, you should identify those that are relevant to your campaign.
The truth about all of those abandoned blogs is, many served as personal diaries, new posts were few and far between and some of those that did attempt to be newsy never found an audience. Still, more than 7 million bloggers continue to post regularly and along with social networks, they are attracting eyeballs that used to fall on traditional media. What’s more, those bloggers are discussing companies, products and services. A couple of months ago, using the Cision Social Media Dashboard, I found more than 242,000 blog posts mentioning companies in the Fortune 25 in a 30-day span. Which blogs should you be starting a conversation with?