Media blokes care about breaking stories. One remark I recall from the Suffragette Journalism panel at BlogHer is Chris Nolan's (I was on the panel so this is from memory, not notes): Watch out for labeling [referring to question whether personal narrative classifies as journalism]. My column was labelled a "gossip" column. I broke the Frank Quattrone story there. I doubt Quattrone merely thought of it as gossip.
Yesterday a friend confided he doesn't read blogs (he's tried). He feels he gets more news, more "value" (value is his exact wording) from traditional media for time expended reading. Hey, there's only 24 hours in a day.
I've been reading blogs for years. Personally, I've never read them for the type of news I find in newstands and magazine racks.
I read blogs for BREAKING IDEAS. Breaking concepts. Breaking trends. And the cliched "paradigm" shifts. To see what the lunatic fringe, early adopters, influencers, mavericks, mavens and connectors are tinkering with, toying with, bouncing around. It's hardly a full-fledged story (yet). I'm trying to figure out what might be mainstream just around the corner. And still be original and differentiated.
This is vital information for innovating new products, setting existing product roadmaps, leapfrogging competition, crafting strategy. I find that what's said on blogs are leading indicators. Press, analysts, entrepreneurs are regularly mining the blogosphere for breaking ideas. I participated in an O'Reilly focus group for CTOs years ago, and the number #1 takeaway I came away with is that CTOs primarly read blogs and use their own peer trust networks for hot news, trend buzz and product recommendations.
And for bad news, they are like canaries in a coal mine. Jeff Jarvis wasn't the first or only blogger to bitch about Dell. I don't see my buddy Jory angry often...but she seemed pretty peeved with Mr. Dell in her open letter (preceding Jeff's btw). Some consumer-reports-instinct within me tells me when I see two bright bloggers I regularly read and trust complain about the same thing that this might be the tip of a customer-service-problem iceberg.
But I'm usually looking for bigger ideas when I read blogs than just what kind of laptop to give a wide berth to or to purchase. Ideas like where to take my business and my clients'. I use blogs to learn to read the waves and catch the surf rather than be beached high and dry on shore.
It's important to regularly read a select roster of blogs above and beyond tracking and monitoring all mentions of your company, product, executives. I know that some of you may take offense, but I'd classify this type of monitoring as reactive listening. It's important, but it's insufficient.
Which blogs should you proactively listen to varies per individual or corporation depending on your industry and objectives among other factors. I don't read teen blogs myself, but I bet MTV does.
At the upcoming BlogBusinessSummit conference in San Francisco Aug 17-19, I'll give guidelines on proactive listening in addition to how to track mentions of your own company. I'd love to hear from blog readers the IDEAS you've garnered from reading blogs that you didn't get from other media sources (until later) and if you know of positive examples (I've plenty of "they blew it" examples) of a business (even without their own blog) listening and responding well to the blogosphere.
p.s. Social media is "a culture of generosity", as Caterina Fake once said. I'm grateful for Mary Hodder's generous sharing of her tips and techniques on tracking and monitoring using various blog aggregation and RSS search tools (Part I, Part II). I highly recommend you follow the entire series. Thanks, Mary!