Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Blogging as "Social Cartography"

So I'm listening to NPR last night. The "Marketplace" show features a "futurist" who is talking about blogging and social networking.

"Oh, goody," I think. "How very 1999: someone's figured out a way to link the 2 hottest tech trends ... The hype machine may sputter, but it never dies."

Then I remember that hype is my business, so I shut up and listen.

Seems this sharpie has figured out that the inner circle of well-known blogs, which are incestuously interlinked, have a growing measure of social influence. Blog audiences grow attuned to the opinions of their fave bloggers and come to trust their opinions as much as they'd trust the opinions of a neighbor.

The blogger, in effect, has become a link in the consumer's own social network.

Thus, according to the futurist, tomorrow's marketers need to start thinking about how to influence the blogosphere. For example, he suggested that a newly-published author might gain as much promotional heft from "guest blogging" in influential forums as they would by touring your local BORDERS store.

Further - and intriguingly - the blogs need not be "the biggies": the blogosphere is so self-referential that the splash made at a relatively inconsequential blog might create worthwhile ripples throughout the wider Web world.

The tricky part is figuring out where to throw those pebbles of personal client involvement!

Sure, a big consumer brand like Nike might have the research & resources to determine where to make such blogolicious placements, but, most companies rely on their PR firms to figure that stuff out - and this is an EMERGING idea: that means "mistakes will be made." How many mistakes are allowable, when you're asking a high-powered exec to guest-star on what will feel to them very, very much like blogging's equivalent to "Wayne's World"?

Those funky futurists. God love 'em. It's fine and dandy to ponder such concepts and even experiment from time to time, but, back here in real-time, we must also keep our focus on client satisfaction. I'll think about how to influence the blogosphere...tomorrow.

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