Blogosphere is bigger than John Evans thinks (also: blogs in UK political scene)

Filed as News on September 27, 2006 6:12 am

I just know John Evans will have some thoughts on this…

The Belfast Telegraph has an interesting piece on blogging (via: The Blogging Journalist) and how it is used to gain political favor from the masses.

All three main UK parties are falling over themselves to accommodate bloggers (see definition at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog) alongside the more traditional media representatives.

The article then goes on with some examples of political blogs as well as other ones to prove that the peoples’€™ medium isn’€™t just a fling in the tech world. It’€™s real and it’€™s affecting YOU, where YOU is a normal guy with a normal job outside of the blogosphere.

In April of this year, Jupiter Research (www.jupiterresearch.com) warned that bloggers and online commentators were having a “disproportionately large influence” on society.

Hey, it’€™s a warning! Also:

Last week Forrester Research (www.forrester.com) reported that 53% of people who responded to its recent survey on the subject were influenced in their purchasing decisions by information they read in blogs.

Here’€™s where John Evans comes in. He’€™s been making a point that the blog networks are stuck in the echo champer of the blogosphere, why he’€™s transforming Syntagma to a Web Network Magazine. Now, I’€™ll not go into his decision, but it might be standing on not so solid ground. 53% has been influenced by stuff they read in blogs!

53%, John!

Granted, this is in the UK, not in the States, but still. It’€™s a pretty whopping number, way higher than most of us thought I’€™d gather. I’€™m actually not really sure I buy it since reports like this tend to rely heavily on how the questions are phrased to the focus groups, but still… 53%.

This doesn’€™t disqualify Johns’€™ choice of moving from the blogosphere, if that is in fact the result of the re-branding to Web Network Magazine, but it sure makes me wonder what facts he’€™s based his decision on in the first place. Did you think that the blogosphere was smaller, had less impact? I know you’€™ve written about how ad agencies have shied away from Syntagma because of the blog networking part, but in my opinion that comes down to what companies you talk to rather than anything else. Bigwigs are going into bloggin, you’€™re moving from it on a name base at least.

53% is more than half of the population. I’€™d say bloggers are having an impact, and where there is an impact there is money and social acceptance. So here’€™s an open invitation to you John, to talk about you Web Network Magazine again (without the ‘€œnot this again’€? bashing in the comments) and to tell me how your reasoning about the echo chamber of the blogosphere differs from the 53% above. Because if it doesn’€™t then it’€™s one hell of an echo champer!

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  1. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on September 27, 2006 at 6:51 am
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    Thanks for the even-handed approach, Thord. It’s a serious question which I’ll answer by saying, there’s a difference between reading (and being influenced by) blogs and actually buying products and services from them.

    As a small B**g N*****k :-) Syntagma has to aim at a segment of the market to make an impact. We have to specialize. It’s the choice you have to make when you go from monetized blog to real business.

    We’ve decided to go towards (probably) the biggest business on earth: retail. Although blogs can make an impact in this area, the bigcos have yet to move in because the inventory is split three ways : kids gabbling, tech and politicos gabbling.

    So we’ve positioned ourselves with high-end content, in an increasingly magazine format — which retailers understand — and with a non-controversial ethos. This is purely a business choice and not a knockback to the blogosphere, whose games I’ve enjoyed playing.

    We’re transforming ourselves slowly, because, like most Web businesses there are very few of us. If current negotiations to get a retail consultancy onboard succeed, things will move very fast indeed.

    I hope that answers your questions.

  2. By Darren McLaughlin posted on September 27, 2006 at 3:48 pm
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    John Evans is smarter than you give him credit for. That 53% figure sounds ludicrous to me.

    Doesn’t it ever get old to be a blog cheerleader? :)

  3. By Martin Neumann posted on September 27, 2006 at 4:19 pm
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    Darren – I don’t see Thord’s post as being “cheerleading”. He combines some factual reporting, with survey results, and opinion and asks John to comment – which John does in his unique way. :-)

  4. By Thord Hedengren posted on September 28, 2006 at 3:10 am
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    Darren,

    I too think the numbers is overwhelming and you can make what you will of it – but it’s actual research done by actual research companies. You can’t ignore it just because it doesn’t fit your world view.

    As for cheerleading, you should see my pom-poms! They are pitch black!

    John,

    Thanks for the reply, and I hear you but don’t agree with “there’s a difference between reading (and being influenced by) blogs and actually buying products and services from them”. If you can take advice from a blog where to spend your hard earned cash you sure can buy from it as well – I think it’s a matter of trust and the advice part sure shows that it’s there. The trust, that is.

    That being said I realize that retail businesses with the “wrong” person can have a problem with the concept of a blog network. It isn’t as easy to grasp as just “network” – attaching “magazine” to it could just as well be something else. Like site. ;)

    I do totally agree on you on one point though! Small networks have to specialize. Expand when you can, but make sure you get your niche and do it good. Regular readers of my blog knows I’m a strong believer in this.

  5. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on September 28, 2006 at 4:32 am
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    Darren: I think there’s a place for blog “cheerleaders” but in the field of technical innovation, not commercial publishing.

    Martin: Thanks for your uniquely calm comment. ;-)

    Thord: Blogs are about exchanges of information on the raw and cutting edges. The raw edge is where there’s controversy or avant-guarde thinking in politics. The cutting edge is where there’s innovation in tech and new media.

    Blogs are not good for ad-based commercial publishing. The people who matter don’t see them that way — and they are the buyers.

    My point is that when blogs are networked as content providers they are mimicking print magazines (whether they know it or not) and straying beyond their point of maximum effectiveness. Unless, that is, they go the whole hog and badge themselves as a magazine, and bring in the production values of the print serial industry. Then they can approach the kind of advertisers who dominate printed magazines.

    Blog networks that don’t make this transition remain as awkward hybrids unless they go for a specific tech audience, as WIN did. Our stretching of the envelope is actually just recognizing reality.

  6. By Darren McLaughlin posted on September 28, 2006 at 6:26 am
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    As far as research goes: do some of your own.

    Ask 20 people you know how influenced they are by blogs. Then write down the answer and report back to me :)

    The average person doesn’t even read blogs, let alone be influenced by them. Blogging is a niche practice.

  7. By Jim Turner posted on September 28, 2006 at 1:07 pm
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    Darren I could follow your argument right up to the last comment.

    “Blogging is a niche practice.”

    Huh? In 2002, Technorati was tracking blogs in the thousands. Today over 54 million. I don’t possibly see “niche” anywhere in that scenario. Even if you argue that 50% of those tracked are splogs or abondoned sites, in my short experience with Blogs vs. Websites, most of the people that are reading blogs don’t know they are. They believe a blog is actually a website. If you asked how many people use the Internet as their source for information and were influenced by it, they could be reading nothing but blogs and not know it. I would venture if the verbage of the question was changed to that it would be a much higher percentage. When was the last time you searched through the yellow pages to find out about the best tech gadget? Google is the new source for information.
    Businesses are embracing blogs like the websites of the 90’s. That’s not really cheerleading its just fact.

  8. By Darren McLaughlin posted on September 28, 2006 at 6:42 pm
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    I don’t use the Yellow Pages, because I’m a fulltime internet marketer. But most people aren’t. Think of all the people who still have regular offline jobs and use the internet sparingly.

    You make two statements that are baffling:

    “Google is the new source for information.”

    What? A new source of information. I think of them as a search engine.

    “Businesses are embracing blogs like the websites of the 90’s. That’s not really cheerleading its just fact.”

    What are the websites of the 90s? Businesses are embracing blogs, as well they should be. But “business blogs” are still a niche. You still have an entire population of people over 50 who rarely use computers.

    Honestly, I really think it might be worth my while to conduct an actual national survey considering this whole matter. My contention is that less than 10% of people are heavily influenced by blogs when making a purchasing decision.

    And if anyone actually believes that a political blog can “change someone’s mind” about politics, I think they’re kidding.

  9. By Martin posted on September 29, 2006 at 12:41 am
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    That’s the probelm with surveys – many surveys are conducted by those with a vested interest and they already have an end result in mind or a desired result to prove a point.

    I take the majority of survey results with a grain of salt – some more than others.

  10. By Jitendra posted on September 29, 2006 at 3:33 pm
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    I added another analysis of the size of blogosphere (borrowing heavily from blog herald) and the identity issues at my blog.

    http://karmaweb.wordpress.com/2006/09/29/identity-in-the-blogosphere/