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Feb 23, 2006

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» A-Listers, Technorati Ranks, Successful Blogs, et from Steve's 2 Cents
This week has seen another round of discussion on A-listers, Technorati rankings, and links. The round up goes something like this: Evelyn's ranking dropped presumably because she was on her two month adventure to the tsunami area. Jory starts ... [Read More]

Comments

Peter Cooper

Yeah, it's no biggie. My blog has a rank of 20,000 and I get over two thousand pageviews (uniques are always about half) a day and have had a lot of success. Just because other bloggers aren't linking doesn't mean you can't have a successful blog if it has a large readership who aren't bloggers.

Seth Finkelstein

But nobody ever evangelizes "Get a telephone, and you're on the same footing as everyone else with a telephone, even the mainstream telegrammers like Samuel Morse. Advantage, phoneysphere!"

There's a certain amount of bait-and-switch, since a telephone is basically to make a specific connection which is generally known to have utility for everyone involved. While the utility for blogging tends to be very dubious, and rely on holding up people who have power and influence (and even make money) in front of the masses who will never have any of that - and then telling them to be happy to keep a diary or chat :-(.

A blog *is* a publication. It's not a "conversation". That's at best a metaphor, and at worst deceptive advertising. When framed that way, the idea that a company should have a web-publication seems either trite or over-hyped depending on how one looks at it. And even less justifable for an individual.

Rex Hammock

Thanks, Evelyn. See, if I didn't blog, I would have never found 'crossroads dispatches.' Another benefit.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Agreed, no one advertises: "Get a phone and be on the same footing..." I'm not sure that was what blogging promised either.

A blog *can* be like a publication. That's one purpose. Millions are interested in small groups - their stakeholders - and not any living breathing mortal will do.

Sure it's certainly not entirely a conversation either. The telephone is a better example than People magazine though. Ultimately blogging is its own beast, its own species. But we are wont to compare to something we ALREADY know. I do feel like I'm on a stage much more than chatting over a cup of coffee due to the public nature.

But what distinguishes blogs is that somehow magically the blogs attract like magnets precisely the people you want or need to interact with. If that needs to be the whole world, try a billboard or the Super Bowl instead.

This ties with what Harry Beckwith says in "What Clients Love". "Find the "white hot center". Every industry has one. This is the key area where influencers who will endorse your product to followers are located. These are the editors whose reviews dictate the trends of the industry.

Nike found the white-hot center of running and later on, in basketball. They chose Michael Jordan, who wasn't even first choice in that year's pro draft of college players. Nike's earliest contact with Tiger Woods was when he was playing golf as a freshman in high school." (Summary, not excerpt, from http://www.bizsum.com/2page/b_WhatClientsLove.php)

Really need to check out the book itself. See "white hot center" with Nike example on pp 6-12. And finding the "white hot center" on pp 12-13.

Seth Finkelstein

Well, just in the piece cited: "5. If you run a business, blog because one day, I promise, you will be glad you have a place to respond when the conversation is about you."

If an A-lister flames you (hardly a "conversation"), it doesn't do you any good to "respond" on a page nobody reads. Ever more so if attacked by a newspaper columnist or TV reporter. And why do you need a *blog*, rather than a *web site*, for that unhappy day? It certainly seems like some sort of comparable power is being insinuated, though it's not the best example of that shibboleth.

"But what distinguishes blogs is that somehow magically the blogs attract like magnets precisely the people you want or need to interact with."

If someone said "But what distinguishes this patent medicine is that somehow magicially it cures what ails you", well, wouldn't that seem a little overpromising?

Evelyn Rodriguez

Rex: Thanks for the kind words!

Peter has a good point: "Just because other bloggers aren't linking doesn't mean you can't have a successful blog if it has a large readership who aren't bloggers."

My new blog will never ever be on Memeorandum. And that 'audience' probably wouldn't know an RSS feed from a Unix script - nor should they care.

If I placed emphasis on getting high Technorati rank for the new blog, I'd shoot myself in the foot and MISS the target for this particular White Hot Center (how's that for mixed metaphors and cliches!). If I emphasized numbers alone I'd just churn out content you can find ALREADY available on TV and newsstands, AND I'd turn off the folks that are my intended community.

The A-List is a very, very, very small part of what folks on every corner of this globe are passionate about. If A-List is your White Hot Center, then by all means, go for Technorati rank.

I was so offline the last two months, I missed my two-year blog birthday in early Feb. I'm a restless spirit, so that's a LONG time for me to stick to anything. As I was trying to explain to a friend: "The minute my blog ever becomes burden or obligation, it dies." For me, watching rank and metrics is a burden.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Seth: "If an A-lister flames you (hardly a "conversation"), it doesn't do you any good to "respond" on a page nobody reads. Ever more so if attacked by a newspaper columnist or TV reporter."

There are probably two issues here. One is starting new threads or memes as "someone who nobody reads." If you are trying to change the world with NEW ideas that no one else is talking about yet, this is definitely an issue. One I ask myself too. I don't have any answer. Except that it's not entirely no one - it just doesn't compare to WSJ or Steve Rubel.

On the responding to flames: I think this is where a blog definitely helps. Someone sane and balanced will check the other side of story if it is an attack. But more importantly, if you have built up a community (via blog is just ONE way) - they'll defend you. You won't need to. In a talk, I used Bike Friday as a counter-point example to Kryptonite because the bike community is so allied with them, that they'd have alerted the company first before calling in the press. With Kryptonite, there wasn't that bond.

As to magic: It's not exactly magical, but I have witnessed some remarkable coincidences. Although many do equate marketing with magic.

It's a HUGE topic that's the entire topic of what many blogs are ABOUT. Those pages cited from Harry Beckwith's book aren't magic. Maybe your audience uses Google search more than Technorati - so work on searchable blog post titles heavy with keywords. Where does your White Hot Center hang out? Go there. Really, read those pages. Then
ask:

- Who makes up the White Hot Center of our industry?
- Which members do we have contact with? Which do we not?
- What should we do to increase our influence with these people?

Seth Finkelstein

There's nothing wrong with a diary or a hobby publication - but, all the same, there's often nothing particularly attractive in doing that either. So often, something more seems to be sold, some additional benefit. But simultaneously, when one critically examines the way the seeming benefit won't happen, there's a change that somehow one shouldn't want the benefit.

What is "a voice in a conversation" viewed in terms of implication - it *sounds* as if one *will* be heard. It's not "because some people like to talk to themselves" (look, some people *do* like to talk to themselves, that's fine - but if one doesn't, it's not helpful).

The A-list point here is shorthand for the fact that one's blog voice is likely to be a tiny squeak, if that. So, again, while it's OK if that 's sufficient, there's many contexts where it's extremely unsatisfying. This thread run through the whole discussion, and there never seems to be a willingness to deal with how the meager returns just may not be worth it for most people.

Seth Finkelstein

"Someone sane and balanced will check the other side of story if it is an attack."

No, they won't. Too many people believe what they read in the papers, or what a popular source says.

"But more importantly, if you have built up a community (via blog is just ONE way) - they'll defend you."

Not against someone far more popular - this is elementary social dynamics. In fact, they have far more to gain by me-too'ing the A-lister, since an A-lister can send traffic their way.

Dealing with a topic's gatekeepers is not something which requires a blog, and besides, blogs as a way to flatter and butter-up gatekeepers are a strange selling point (though I must admit I have seen it happen, marketed in polite terminology, and it's at least a realistic use to the blogger's benefit).

Evelyn Rodriguez

"What is "a voice in a conversation" viewed in terms of implication - it *sounds* as if one *will* be heard."

I don't know if it is realistic to think it'll be heard by a large audience. Maybe. Maybe not. Let's take this new blog I started. It isn't a hobby blog at all; there is a strategy behind it longer-term but I'm experimenting in early stages too. Starting small is ok. In the end, knowing what I know it appeals to just about 2-4% of the population. And the overlap with the A-List is perhaps minimal. Plus at first, with a hyperlocal focus, that might be mainly in the Bay Area. So we're talking 2-4% of a 5M population! This would be absolutely crazy if I were launching a print magazine and relied on circulation numbers to sell advertisers.

But it's a perfect niche for a blog. I can reach them effectively. The business model (there is one - later) isn't around ads. And ultimately the intention isn't commecial; but that doesn't make it a hobby. Just hyper-focused. In the beginning, it is going to be tough because I can't just tap into the A-List to jump-start readership. I have given long and hard thought to where these folks are hanging out today and how to reach them.

"This thread run through the whole discussion, and there never seems to be a willingness to deal with how the meager returns just may not be worth it for most people."

I agree if you are trying to effect big change in the wider masses in politics or technology - two heavily overpopulated topics - it may not seem worth the effort to start. On other hand, it's not a bad idea to understand how mass movements, like civil rights or aforementioned toppling of dictators for instance actually begins. It doesn't start out mass day one. Can you imagine being behind the iron curtain in Prague or something and thinking "I can't do anything about this political situation. I'm just a little squeaky voice!" It feels pretty true and there is threat of being thrown in prison, etc. And yet the Velvet Revolution happened. It rippled organically.
(See also: http://evelynrodriguez.typepad.com/crossroads_dispatches/2005/12/tapping_the_fie.html )

The hype with blogs that I disagree with vehemently is that your "meme" or whatever you have to say catches on overnight. That's the viral marketing fantasy. Seth has a chart on organic growth which is more realistic:
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/02/organic_web_gro_1.html

You don't need the A-List as much as you believe.

Evelyn Rodriguez

That said...I hear you. I've figured out the strategy for the new blog. But on my citizen journalism trip to follow up on tsunami recovery a year later, I'm stumped. For many of my points and stories I have to tell, this blog isn't the right fit nor has a wide enough exposure since it is timely to an extent - people are still in tents without electricity - and can't wait to build up mass organically over the next few years.

My honest feeling is if I post here, no one that needs to read it will read it. It won't get seen by the right people in government, media, NGOs (which are folks that don't normally read my blog). This frustration is mostly because it's a NEW set of conversations (for lack of better word) I need to be having.

I am looking for solution, but best I've come up with is to approach larger relevant blogs to ask to be interviewed, or guest contribute.

Niti Bhan

Yes, that would be a good start. Also consider the idea of being a moderator/founder of a group blog that you could host here and all the people whose stories you want to share could be fellow bloggers too. It may not be much initially but for the brand new voices you want to ensure get heard with their stories, it's a start without the intimidation of the responsiblity of managing the entire blog. As contributors/authors to this blog their voices are part of it, and then itwould be an extremely valuable additon to the Global Voices database as well.

Also it allows them to try out blogging and you can support it by doing all the back end stuff that they may not be aware of such as the trackbacks rss feeds etc

sorry I babbled on there, but I do believe you are on to something powerful adn there must be a way to give it voice.

Tish Grier

Hi Evelyn....jumping in a bit late to the conversation here, but I have to agree with you about rankings, A-list, etc.

My experience this time around--rank on one blog dropped, while rank on one blog rose (but not significantly, and some links haven't been counted yet.) So, what's a girl to do? I'm not fretting over my rank, as I'm still in the Magic Middle, and conversation happens.

I know, too, that if I want A-listers to read me, I have to let them know I'm here. I also don't buy what Seth says about being flamed by A-listers. I was royally flamed by an A-lister for a post I did that ws critical of her appearance on a washingtonpost.com panel on ethics in interactivity. Did it hurt me? Overall, no; but yes, the flames hurt my ego. The majority of the flames weren't from bloggers, and there were also some posts of great support--from bloggers.

So, after looking at the whole thing, my sense is that blogging really is what you make it. If you want it to be conversation, it will be. If you want it to be publishing, as a place to get your writing noticed, then eventually it will be that, too. But it really is up to each and every one of us, not the A-list or Technorati, to make whatever we want *happen*

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