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the big blog company | Network effects
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Network effects

The community of blogs is called 'The Blogosphere'... which is really just the mother of all social networks!

The network is always stronger than a node
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Blog as a node and blogosphere as a network

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Not every company needs a blog, but every company needs the support of a network. Some companies make the mistake of thinking that their node is strong enough to circumvent or even topple the network - just think back to AOL’s ‘walled garden’ delusions only a few years ago. They thought that their content could supplant or compete with the entire internet.  Blogs are stronger because they are networked digital paper.

The network that each respective company needs in order to succeed will vary. We have had conversations with enough people to know the usual objections - My company doesn’t need to engage with angsty teenage bloggers! Our customers and industry peers are high-level executives in a very specialised area! - so here is the key thing to remember:

The network that each respective company needs in order to succeed will vary. Within the wider network, within the wider blogosphere, there is a more specific (though not wholly identifiable) network, a more niche curve in the blogosphere, where your company should probably be engaged. If the curve is currently unoccupied, be the seed that kicks it all off and watch the flora flourish.

Ignore the network at your peril. Engage it and reap the benefits.

Further reading: Netflix flicks off a blogger, Netflix regrets flicking off a blogger; TrackBack comes of age; Macromedia Blogs and the Death of the ‘Official Story’

Metrics, Schmetrics
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In an article that was passed around our curve of the blogosphere recently, MarketingSherpa tries to validate blogging for businesses using metrics.

Looking at blogs from that perspective misses the most important aspect of blogging: The only ‘metrics’ associated with blogs for now should include in-bound links, velocity, feedback and stickiness.

Neither businesses nor blogs have reached consistency in the measurement of their influence and authority. By applying the current metrics - as understood by ‘interactive media’ types (hits, clicks, etc) - they are not only one-dimensional, they change the way people see tools such as blogs and other communication media. This is the problem of understanding what communication is all about. Just because you cannot measure something the way you are used to, it does not mean it is irrelevant or even intangible.

Technorati is measuring in-bound links and using it as a “vote” for attention to understand a blogging site’s influence. With a database of 3.2 million bloggers, A-list bloggers move to the top of Technorati’s list based on the blogger’s number of in-bound links. But even this novel approach is considered crude by no less than Technorati CEO David Sifry, who told a BlogOn audience:

Only looking at the number of in-bound links is too blunt. We need a measure of relative authority. We’re closely watching velocity - the change in the number of a blogger’s links in one hour divided by the blogger’s total number of links.

For myself, I find the metrics discussed in the article only a starting point. What constantly amazes me about Samizdata.net is not the number of unique visitors but the fact that so many of those visitors are ones who return each and every day. We need metrics for affinity and loyalty.

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