Thursday, October 02, 2008

Technorati’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere

From Katie Noonan - The state of the union may be up in the air at the moment, but Technorati’s annual report for 2008 has found the state of the Blogosphere to be strong.

Their in-depth report found that blogs are increasingly becoming part of the mainstream, and that a growing number of Americans are now getting their news from blogs.

Here are some important findings from the study:

Who is blogging?

Bloggers may blog about very different issues, but bloggers themselves are not so different. In fact, they make up a very specific group in the United States:

  • Three out of four U.S. bloggers are college graduates
  • 42% have attended graduate school
  • 57% of bloggers are male
  • More than half have a household income over $75,000
  • 37% are 35-49 years old

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to the most bloggers, followed by New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Broken down into specific types of blogs, 79% of bloggers identify themselves as personal bloggers, 46% identify themselves as professional bloggers, and 12% identify themselves as corporate bloggers, meaning they blog on behalf of their company in an official capacity. Interestingly, there is a great deal of overlap in these groups, with some personal bloggers blogging professionally or for their corporation and vice-versa.

What are they blogging about?

As mentioned above, bloggers often blog both professionally and personally, sometimes within the same blog, and sometimes using two different blogs. The topics they blog about overlap as well, with some of the most prevalent topics being, personal/lifestyle, technology, politics, computers, music, film, travel, business and religion. According to Technorati, the average blogger blogs about five of these issues.

Why do they blog?

Technorati’s report found that 79% of bloggers blog to voice their personal views on issues that fall within the topics above. Additionally, 73% say they blog to share their expertise with readers. Other reasons for blogging include, to connect with new people, to update family and friends, to get noticed by the traditional media, and to attract new clients, to name a few.

How do bloggers perceive themselves and their impact?

  • 54% of professional bloggers have found that because of their blog, they are now more well-known in their field
  • 49% of bloggers believe that blogs are as valid of a source for information as the traditional media
  • Half of bloggers believe that in the next five years, the Blogosphere will surpass traditional media and become the primary source for news and entertainment
  • 37% of bloggers believe that blogs are generally better written than news articles.

Personal thoughts on Technorati’s findings

Blogs are definitely one of the most important advancements to come out of the Internet age. They have revolutionized the way Americans, and increasingly the rest of the world, receive and process information. Consider the Drudge Report, which ran the Monica Lewinsky story when the traditional media wouldn’t touch it. For better or worse, this story radically changed the political landscape of the 90s.

However, unlike the traditional media, bloggers are not held to the same standards of ethics. While professional journalists are bound to their own code of ethics which includes truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability, bloggers are bound only to their personal ethics. This places the burden on readers to be critical of what they read in blogs or fall victim to the Blogosphere rumor mill.

Still, bloggers that want to be taken seriously by both the traditional media and readers will probably approach blogging much the same way the traditional media approaches reporting the news. If they want to be an expert in their field, and a trusted source of information, bloggers would be wise to play it straight.

From a Public Relations standpoint

Implications from the Technorati study are clear. Businesses hoping to grow their brand or reach a new or larger audience would be wise to get on board the blog train if they have not done so already. With a growing number of Americans using blogs as a primary source for news and analysis, businesses have an opportunity to create a niche for themselves as industry experts or the “go-to guy” through a medium that is familiar and increasingly vital to readers. Blogging is not right for every business though. For more, read our previous post “Remembering the Basics about Blogs.”

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