Friday, August 19, 2005

Excellent, and brief, explanation of why all the "lists" don't help PR-types

Marketing Vox tells it like it is.

But let me wax philosophical first.

All the talk of the Technorati 100 or the Feedster 500 gets so convoluted, lengthy, and contentious, because there are really multiple potential audiences for these lists, and the lists don't really serve any of those audiences perfectly.

Some people just use the lists to surf blogs. They may start with a few of the "top" blogs, follow their links and blog rolls and just ride the wave as far as they can. I don't get people with this surfer mentality; I never have. This is how my S.O. spends hours on the web, and this is why he knows "something about everything" (in quotes because it's one of my standard descriptions of him.) And I mean this is a complimentary way. He really does discover and retain massive amounts of interesting facts by surfing online.

These lists are lovely starting points for such surfers who want to find out something about everything.

If you are a would-be blog reader who has a definite lack of interest in particular subjects it's not quite as useful, because you're left to discover on your own whether the blogs on the list are of interest to you. As Jay Rosen points out about my own Personal Blog, many blogs don't have very descriptive names.

So the lists are a mixed bag for blog surfers. (and that's not even addressing whether using the lists will inevitably trap would-be surfers in an echo chamber and not expose them to new voices.)

But what Marketing Vox is talking about here is a general lack of valuable tools for business-types to find blogs they care about. And particularly B2B types, rather than consumer types. The lists captures those with big audiences and influence...and to get that you have to be writing about something with general consumer interest.

Right now I'm "site-hunting" myself for a client. I'm looking for people talking about financial data and analysis with a fairly limited scope. I don't need people who talk generally about business, or the economy, but rather about investments and banking. And those kind of people aren't going to pop up on lists. (And to pat Mark Cuban on the back: yes, my Technorati key word searches are so filled with splog results that it's hardly worth slogging through.)

All I can do is email some colleagues for suggestions, start with a few blogs and start working through their blog rolls, their links and follow the trail. But at least, unlike most traditional PR firms, I'm pretty familiar with who knows what in the blogosphere...where to look to start finding what I want. I'm better off with my contacts and my bookmarks than with key word searches, to be honest.

But it's tedious, and it's time-consuming, and therefore it's expensive for my client.

There's no point finding it abhorrent that marketing and PR folks want to follow the blogs. A lot of bloggers blog because they have something to say. Don't be bummed that people want to listen to that. There's an opportunity here for someone to make it easier. The Feedster list might at least be broadening our minds about what criteria goes into defining a "top" blog, but it's only part of the answer. The other part is, inevitably, whether the vendors like it or not: going deep, not just broad. Categorization, Indexing etc.

Who will do it (and get there first)?

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