Monday, October 1, 2007

October 07 - Blogger Bashing

Last year I pitched an idea for a retail trends e-newsletter to one of my clients. As part of the presentation I presented a mock-up, featuring four trend related stories.

The client loved the idea and it has proven very successful for them. The reason I’m mentioning it here, is because they asked me where I sourced the stories from.

I explained that I had discovered them while researching material for my blog. “So what do you put in your blog?” asked my client. “Isn’t a blog just an online diary?”

Sadly, this is a pretty common misconception. Even the Webster’s dictionary defines blogging as, “An online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page.”

Dina Mehta is a research consultant, based in Mumbai, India, whose clients include the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Nokia, MTV and ad agency J Walter Thompson. Dina is also a blogger. Here is how she describes blogging:

“Most non-bloggers seem to refer to blogging as merely writing a diary. But that's not complete, nor does it do blogging any justice. Blogging is the act of publishing content online - in a space that is yours.”

Of course the quality and importance of the content many people are publishing varies dramatically. But the best bloggers are increasingly seen as reputable sources for news and opinion.

Pick up a copy of US advertising trade mag Ad Age and you’ll see that they publish a regular list of the top advertising and marketing blogs. The fact that they call this list the Power 150 speaks volumes I think.

Sadly some journalists in the Australian print media continue to look down their noses at blogging. A good, or should that be bad, case in point being a recent article by Fairfax journo Graeme Philipson.

“I don’t blog,” wrote Philipson. “Can’t see the point, when I write this column and others. I also rarely read them - the letters page of this newspaper and the many emails I receive is for me more than enough exposure to the unfiltered opinion of the common man.”

Luckily not everyone shares the blinkered opinions of Graeme Philipson. In fact the unfiltered opinion, as Philipson calls it, of over 100 bloggers recently lead to a best selling marketing book.

The book in question, The Age of Conversation, is packed with insights and advice on how brands can engage and converse with their customers. It has received positive coverage from the likes of Ad Age, Business Week, Media Post and Fast Company.

The Age of Conversation was the brainchild of two highly respected marketers and bloggers, Gavin Heaton in Sydney and Drew McLennan from Iowa, USA.

Using little more than the power on the internet to bring like minded people together, Drew and Gavin managed to solicit contributions from 103 bloggers for their book. As if that wasn’t enough, they also arranged for profits from the sale of the book to a childrens’ charity.

In his chapter of the book, Gavin Heaton encapsulates beautifully, the appeal of blogs and blogging. “Never before has the marketplace of ideas been so free, the barriers to entry so low and the willingness to collaborate so powerful.”

I suspect it’s this low barrier to entry that so enrages Graeme Philipson. After all, you don’t need a university degree to write a blog post. Nor do you need someone to publish what you have written. You simply need access to the internet.

Gavin Heaton recently wrote a challenging post on his blog, taking Philipson to task over his anti-blogging piece.

“I am constantly amazed by the number of experts who are available to discuss blogging, new media, social networking and that strange and untamable beast, the Internet,” wrote Heaton.

“They are wheeled out across the mainstream media channels to provide some (kind of) insight or a point of view.” And yet, argues Heaton, “It is unclear exactly where the insight comes from.”

Melbourne based marketing blogger, David Koopmans, also took umbrage with Graeme Philipson’s article. “People participate in online communication,” says Koopmans, “because the web is now a place where you don’t need an understanding of technology to participate.”

“I can write a list of 50 people who are certified experts in their field, who write blogs. However, they are not bloggers; they are experts, who share their expert thoughts via the internet. I wonder if Graeme Philipson would consider the Sun Microsystems CEO, Jonathan Schwartz’s writing the unfiltered opinion of the common man.”

Believe it or not, I don’t completely disagree with Philipson. There are millions of blogs out there and a large proportion of them feature the ramblings of people with nothing better to do than share with the world their thoughts and feelings.

But what right do Graeme Philipson or I have to criticise these people? This is the age of conversation after all.

Stop by and visit:

Drew McLennan

Gavin Heaton

David Koopmans

Age of Conversation

1 comment:

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