Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bloglines - Avenues of Blog Influence

Bloglines user PeterDawson ( has sent this item to you, with the following personal message:

Medici Effect is taking place...

" each stop on this avenue actually intersects with other avenues."
"but rather what avenues does information travel along that generate the most influence. it is nearly irrelevant at what intersection that information enters the avenue, or so it seems to me."

Naked Conversations
How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers --a book by Shel Israel & Robert Scoble

Avenues of Blog Influence

By shel israel on corporate blogging

A couple of days ago, I was invited in to visit some folk at Biz 360, the market intelligence company.  They've been around a while and I can remember back in the late 90s when I was running a PR firm wishing that I could afford their stuff.

Times change. Now there's blogging, which is highly decentralized, dynamic and topically skewed. If you are interested in corporate blogging, you may find this blog useful and consider some of what I post, influential some of the time  If your passion is hummingbirds, then despite the numerical rankings that blog search engines say I have absolutely zero influence.

Even on my own topic, on a given, someone you and I have never heard of may post something on a subject I write regularly about, and that may have the most influence in the world on a given day. Likewise, having big numbers, as most A-Listers will confide, does not necessarily show influence. It depends on who those readers are.  If you are a business blogger, a tech editor at the New York Times is worth to my influence, more than six godzillian MySpacers.

This is interesting to me.  It's a nightmare to an analytics company, trying to sell market intelligence to Fortune 1000 companies. Our session began with them showing me a sample comparison chart of blogger numbers v traditional media coverage of a theoretical company.

I kind of wrecked the presentation,by asking why it mattered whether the original source of information comes from a blogger or an editor.  We all monitor each other all the time.  We influence each other. They abandoned the presentation and we just talked.

Okay, I mostly did the talking. I guess they impressed me because they listened closely and because half the group who were in the room came from development, rather than marketing.  The engineers mostly just listened for two hours.

Somewhere, near the end I asked if they had thought of visual mapping of how blogging flows. I said that if you wanted to understand influence, a visual map would allow companies to see the avenues of influence where information flows. For example, I mentioned Gautam Ghosh, a Bangalore-based blogger whom I followed. Gautum is a known and respected blogger, but few people would call him an A-Lister.

But I read him.  Scoble reads me, and just about everyone including national business editors read Scoble. Perhaps Gautam reads someone who has just 4-5 links. That someone has a direct avenue of influence that can easily get what he or she has to say onto the front page of the New York Times within one day if the topic and content were rel event to everyone on this avenue. Of course, each stop on this avenue actually intersects with other avenues.

Such a visual map would be enormously complex.  But Manuel Lima, from VisualComplexity has already begun creating visual maps containing extremely complex information. Nothing he has done, so far, would be as complex as a global map that depicts a company's avenues of influence. But it is getting increasingly clear that any blogger can leave the blogosphere at any time, and the influence would get redistributed along the avenue he abandoned.

But this is what it will take to allow a major company to get the important answer.  The question is not really, what 10 bloggers have the most influence, but rather what avenues does information travel along that generate the most influence.  it is nearly irrelevant at what intersection that information enters the avenue, or so it seems to me.

I don't know if I was any help at all to the folks at 360.  But I am on the side of better analytics. Until some company like them or Umbria or some unknown Web 2.0 startup gives the folks in the world's largest marketing departments some rel event analytics, corporate adoption will continue to meander at a pace that I feel is short of fast track speeds.

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