Missing the point

Missing the point: Heather Green must be an influential blogger because she influenced me into pointing to this piece about “the search for influential bloggers.”

Unfortunately, this is a classic example of what goes wrong when one tries to apply a mass-media/mass-marketing mindset onto a personal medium. Ineviatably, “influence” will be equated with mass and link-popularity. However, in reality, “influence” is not always measured by the quantity of people who link to you. It’s the “who,” not the how-many.

Moreover, bloggers are NOT omni-influential. Jeff Jarvis may influence my perceptions regarding media, but his Dell-ranting is not going to influence me. (It may entertain me, but am I influenced?) If mass-marketers try to “figure out” the blogosphere with some sort of “measurement tool” rather than by joining in the conversation and “belonging” to the blogosphere, they’re missing the point and will remain clueless outsiders.

  • BB Logan

    **DingDing**
    You win the prize, Hammockman.
    Spot on commentary (as usual).
    I wish more “people” understood this.

  • Matt Galloway

    Mr. Hammock: Thanks for the mention. You are certainly right, companies should blog if they want to have a chance of promoting or defending themselves. We should all be our own best cheerleader.
    That said, I repesectfully suggest that perhaps you missed my point – which I’m sure is no fault of yours. So I’ll try to clarify a bit…
    I don’t think companies should waste time and money with ads or blogvertising. I think we’re all smarter than that and would subscribe around it.
    I think companies should participate in blogs to promote and defend their brand.
    (So far I think we agree.)
    Beyond being involved in blog conversations and avoinding blogvertisement what else can companies do with blogs? (And here’s my point) Companies can monitor blogs in AGGREGATE to reveal trends. This is something that can’t be done from inside the conversation. This type of monitoring doesn’t upset the nature of blogging like ads will. This is passive. It’s not a silver bullet. But it may be an important tool for market researchers that is not availble now. Market Research is not just for marketing. This information may be used for product design or process reengineering (i.e. Dell might understand the nature and magnitude of their service failings better).
    And yes, your point is a good one – bloggers are not omni-influentials. Jeff Jarvis is more influential in areas where he has more expertise – like media and broadcasting. But to someone in the media businees who reads Jeff’s blog who is considering a Mac – Jeff is also influential in this decision. Steve Rubel recently switch to a Mac and cited mentioned Jeff Jarvis switch when he blogged about it. I’m not saying that Steve switched solely because Jeff did – but it probably made Steve more comfortable with the decision knowing that someone he respects and considers intelligent made the same decision.
    These techniques are not about “figuring out” the blogosphere for control and conquest. It’s about leveraging all the technology available to discover the most valuable information possible.

    And finally, I leave you with this thought. Would you want to join a conversation with someone that just called you a “clueless outsider”?

    -Matt

  • Heather Green

    Rex,

    Was very interested to read your post and Matt’s followup. Again, as I wrote, I think this will be a debate that people will be tussling over. And you guys are really smart about this, so it’s great to watch you discussing it.

    Thanks.

  • rex

    I think we all agree. I’m certainly not opposed to “monitoring” the conversation. I’m in awe of tools like the 2008 Political Wire from my friend Patrick Ruffini. If one looks at what he’s doing and ponders its implications for tracking slices of the blogosphere and mainstream media — basically, by collecting and analyzing RSS feed data — one can envision an amazing buzz radar — “buzzdar”…My point was, rather, that “popularity” and “influence” are not always synonymous. Also, I didn’t mean to imply that Jeff Jarvis couldn’t influence others about computers — just not me. I’ve been using a Mac since 1984 and have been suggesting to both Jeff and Steve that they change for a long time. : )

  • Matt Galloway

    Yes, we do agree. And Rex is right – popularity does not always mean influence, but popularity might be one of many indicators of influence. Also, it’s important to not that when Barry & Keller and the others at RoperReports measure Influentials they are sampling. No one looks at what one person says it’s what a representative group says in aggregate that we are looking for with this type of research.
    Rex: Thanks for pointing me to 2008 Political Wire. I’m starting to collect sites like these that are early examples of what I’m talking about and this site certainly qualifies. Using it as an example, if one of these bloggers tracked by Mr. Ruffini talks about an issue who cares, but if several join the conversation it might indicate a trend. Finding the right sites to aggregate is the first step – Mr. Ruffini seems to have already taken for the political arena.

    -Matt

  • Gaby

    Your site is realy very interesting!