Many of you don’t visit blogs—or haven’t since blogs became a sensation in last year’s Presidential race. According to a Pew Research Center Survey, only 27% Some newer numbers: According to Forrester, 11.2% of online adults in the U.S. publish a blog at least once a month. Of the same group, 24.8% read a blog and 13.7% comment on a blog at least once a month. The numbers are higher for youths. Of online youths, 20.8% publish a blog, 36.6% read a blog, and 26.4% comment on a blog at least once a month. But I suspect the numbers are unreliable because many mainstream sites with millions of readers—celebrity site TMZ and gadget sites like Gizmodo—are actually blogs. But are all the readers aware of this? I doubt it. This is the blurring of the blog/mainstream divide, a theme we’ll see again and again in these revisions. of Internet users in America now bother to read them. So we’re going to take you into the world of blogs by delivering this story—call it Blogs 101 for businesses—in the style of a blog. We’re even sprinkling it with links. These are underlined words that, when clicked, carry readers of this story’s online version to another Web page. This all may make for a strange experience, but it’s the closest we can come to reaching out from the page, grabbing you by the collar, and shaking you into action.
First, a few numbers. There are some 9 million blogs out there, Yes, there were 9 million, but how many of them were active? Probably only a fraction. In early 2008, says Technorati Chairman David Sifry, the search company indexes 112 million blogs, with 120,000 new ones popping up each day. But only 11% of these blogs, he says, have posted within the past two months. That means the active universe is closer to 13 million blogs. Kevin Burton, CEO of FeedBlog, argues that the number should be lower, from 2 million to 4 million blogs. with 40,000 new ones popping up each day. Some discuss poetry, others constitutional law. And, yes, many are plain silly. “Mommy tells me it may rain today. Oh Yucky Dee Doo,” reads only one April Posting. Let’s assume that 99.9% are equally off point. What we didn’t see in early 2005 was the advent of the spam blog. These blogs, produced automatically, are designed to show up in search results and to attract Google advertisements known as Adsense. Sifry estimates that fully 99% of the blog posts reaching search engines are spam. So what? That leaves some 40 new ones every day that could be talking about your business, engaging your employees, or leaking those merger discussions you thought were hush-hush.
Give the paranoids their due. The overwhelming majority of the information the world spews out every day is digital—photos from camera phones, PowerPoint presentations, government filings, billions and billions of e-mails, even digital phone messages. With a couple of clicks, every one of these items can be broadcast into the blogosphere by anyone with an Internet hookup—or even a cell phone. If it’s scandalous, a poisonous e-mail from a CEO, for example, or torture pictures from a prison camp, others link to it in a flash. And here’s the killer: Blog posts linger on the Web forever.
Yet not all the news is scary. Ideas circulate as fast as scandal. Potential customers are out there, sniffing around for deals and partners. While you may be putting it off, you can bet that your competitors are exploring ways to harvest new ideas from blogs, sprinkle ads into them, and yes, find out what you and other competitors are up to.