Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Moving on to the Afternoon of BlogOn 2004

The afternoon sessions at BlogOn were designed to get into the nitty-gritty of what to do with all of these disparate social media tools, features, products...whatever you prefer.

We were moved into a smaller auditorium, which did foster a more interactive atmosphere, and therefore it got a little more lively and interesting. I mean, don't make me get up from my seat, push by some people in my row and walk down some stairs to a microphone, when i can just shout out a question from my chair!

Session #1: The business of blogging...basically can we make money with blogs?
I was disappointed that this session focused almost entirely on advertising as a revenue source. I see a conflict here between bloggers trying to say that they're doing something revolutionary and independent and fresh, and then turning to advertising just as traditional media does.

Blogging is about content. Content is king. And good content gets paid for. Out there in the world people get paid to create all sorts of content: content for marketing collateral, for ads, for magazines, newspapers, newsletters on up to books. It's a harder sell probably, but I think very very few bloggers will be able to make money from ads. People don't have the bandwidth to follow hundreds of blogs. The blogosphere will eventually consolidate.

Which brings me to:

Session #2: Publishing Models
This is the session that descended a little too much into the geekosphere for me. If you're getting into a discussion about RSS vs. XML vs. Atom, and even worse getting into a discussion over whether to use the word RSS like Kleenex as a generic term for feeds...you're getting too geeky. Yawn.

This was the session where I got annoyed with everyone talking about this brave new world of independent expression, blogging. All true, but if you're talking about how to make it a business, there are three avenues:

1. Some people will get paid for the expression...just like people get published as authors today. And just like in book publishing...that's a very small percentage of the people who wish they could be authors.

2. Some people will get paid to write as a form of journalism...again a relatively small percentage of people. And some of those people may remain independent and pay themselves for this form of journalism via advertising, just as magazines do.

3. And as companies start seeing blogs as yet another medium for sending a marketing message, people will get paid to create that marketing message over that medium.

But all they talked about was ads. You can read a really quite scathing assessment from one of the guys on this panel here.

Finally: Session #3: Metrics of Influence
Here again, it wasn't a boring discussion, but i did feel compelled to speak up and mention something that was missing. Some time earlier in the day someone had mentioned that about 1 in 5 blog readers are blog writers.

I see that and think: ONLY 1 in 5?

Then how can we measure influence of a blog only by how many people link to it on their blogs? That's missing counting whether it's influencing the other 80% of blog readership!

But it's indicative of the insular nature of the social media world that we were sitting there only talking about inbound links as the way to measure influence.

Bottom line: I think that many of the people there were not seeing the potential of blogs beyond a means of personal and individual expression. But my Worker Bees mission is to help organizations, groups, businesses and the like leverage what IS differentiated about the blog experience, both from the user's and the reader's experience:

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