BLOG ANALYSE (in progress): “How social software is being (mis)used by high-rated blogs.”
extract: By comparing the activity of blogs on social websites with the activity of the persons ‘behind’ the blogs, I am trying to make a picture of the different uses of these social sites. And meanwhile looking at the difference in presentation. How does a blog present itself on something like FaceBook; as being a person or does it clearly state that it is let’s say a fansite for that specific blog. Or in short, which type of face is given to the blog…
by Minke Kampman
MOST LINKED TO ON 23-09-07:
01 “Engadget” by WeblogsInc
02 “Boing Boing” by Mark Frauenfelder
03 “Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide” by …
04 “Techcrunch” by Michael Arrington
05 “Breaking News and Opinions on The Huffington Post” by Arianna Huffington
06 “Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done” by …
07 “Ars Technica” by Ars Technica, LLC
08 “Mashable! The Social Networking Blog” by Pete Cashmore
09 “Daily Kos: State of the Nation” by …
10 “Blog di Beppe Grillo” by Beppe Grillo
MOST FAVORITED ON 23-09-07:
01 “Boing Boing”
02 “Blog Tips at ProBlogger – Make Money Online Blogging” by Darren Rowse
04 “Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done”
06 “PissingInTheTent.com” by dailyrants77
07 “43 Folders | Personal productivity, life hacks, and other cool…” by Merlin Mann
08 “Make Money Online with Dosh Dosh” by Maki Maki
09 “PostSecret” by frank warren
10 “Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide”
As some of the blogs are mentioned twice, there will be 15 of them in total to analyse. The name that sometimes is mentioned behind the blog is of the founder, person or company behind the blog. The type of analyse I want to make here is a comparison between the activity of the blog in social software sites and the activity of the person behind it. I have looked for active accounts of both the blog as well as the person behind it. You will find the results at the end of this post.
There were some findings that were very suprising to me. I will go through them one by one in a non-specific order. But first I would like to aknowledge the fact that it is very possible that the persons do have accounts in social software (were I say they don’t), but not under their own name. This is not relevant for this specific analyse, because where I am looking for is the ways they present themselves in relation to the blog. And if they choose to present themselves under a pseudonym, then that already answers the question.
One blog that clearly stands out of the rest is PissingInTheTent.com, here I couldn’t find anything on either the blog or the person (which uses a screenname). ‘Maki’ from DoshDosh does the same, but he remains traceable. ‘Maki’ just chooses not to give out his last name, but does reveals information on himself and what he does. Everything on ‘PissingInTheTent’ or ‘dailyrants77’ leads to profiles that haven’t been filled in. Clearly we are dealing with the only one hat is solely a blog. Nothing more and nothing less. The writer just wants his message out there, but doesn’t feel compelled to tell about himself. Even the emailaddress you can send comments to leads to an unpersonal website. It wouldn’t have made a difference if it was Hotmail or Gmail. Clearly he/she really doesn’t want to be tracked down and remains literally faceless (both as blog as well as person). I was a bit reluctant to this, because of the results of the other blogs. I even tried a second search on this one, under the name ‘FreedomBlog’. Again no results.
My conclusion on this one is that either he does his ‘marketing’ through a different channel or he has a group of very devoted fans. But he makes no use of the social software that I’ve looked at.
So we come to DoshDosh, which I’ve already mentioned. One of the two blogs that prefer not to give out their real name. Although enough to know that he’s male (he points this out on both his Flickr account as well as on the blog) and from Toronto, Canada. And he is very much into manga. He clearly uses the social sites for functional reasons; his Flickr accounts holds the pictures he refers to on the blog and Digg seems being used for research and ideas. Interesting is that he chooses the blogname for the Flickr account and ‘Maki’ for his digg account. One could ask whether he sees this as being the same thing, seeing the fact he uses the same picture for both accounts. Both the name ‘Maki’ as ‘DoshDosh’ don’t give me anything on personal information. Though by lifting a tip of the veil, he succeeds in giving it a bit of a personality.
He makes use of the options social sites present him with, but makes no misuse of them. I am getting back on the difference between use and misuse later on in this post.
Beppe Grillo does the exact opposite almost of what DoshDosh does. It’s not even a question whether he makes a difference between the blog and himself. This is who I am and what I have to say. Of course this is an easy conclusion when you give your own name to your blog. But even by doing so, he could have chosen to remain faceless. He doesn’t (with exception of his YouTube account, but this one hasn’t been used very actively). So that leaves us with MySpace and FaceBook. MySpace is very clearly being used for leading people to his his website; his subtitle is his url and he has 11885 “friends”. In FaceBook he has a personal account, to see this one you have to become friends first. And there is a sort of fanbased group called ‘The Beppe Grillo Appreciation Group’. So although he uses his own name for his blog and shows his face everywhere, he seems very conscious about what he uses with which purpose. His face and name may be the connection, but the MySpace-Beppe seems to be the ‘blog’ and the FaceBook-Beppe is the ‘person’. This is given the fact that the fan group isn’t iniated by himself. Or at least I hope not.
So that is a ‘yes’ on the use of social sites and a ‘yes’ on mis-use, but only on his face for using it as a marketingtool for his blog. Which is actually pretty smart in different ways. It instantaneously becomes very personal and trusthworty for people when they have a face to connect the information with. With a logo or so, it takes time for people to link the logo to the information. As soon as the link has been made, it works very well. But there often is a small incubation time.
Arianna Huffington uses her own name, but alters it by adding ‘post’ to her last name to make the difference between her and the blog. And this seems to work for her. The blog’s MySpace account appears to be an addition the blog. With a very clear strategy, for instance she has a mere 76 friends. But the friends that are on top of the list are all candidates for the Democratic nominations in the 2008 presidential election. One could say this MySpace is one big advertisement towards the blog. It has been adjusted in such a way that it doesn’t even look like a regular MySpace account anymore. With exception of the title that appears in the browser: “MySpace.com – Huffington Post – 57 – Vrouw – California – www.myspace.com/huffingtonpost.” Her technical staff probably haven’t found a way yet to adjust this as well.
I’m not able to access her personal FaceBook account again without first becoming her ‘friend’. She makes use of her name, but not so much her face. Although it appears on the MySpace account, it is always in combination with the name of the blog or something else. And not in the way as Beppe Grillo does it, making his face the face of the blog.
Darren Rowse does the same as Huffington and Grillo in the sense of connecting his face with his blog. But in an inconsistent way. For example, in his MySpace accounts he uses the same picture (from a different angle). And what’s noticeable here is that ProBlogger (or “Darren”) has only two ‘friends’, while “Darren Rowse” has 220 ‘friends’. So you could say he is not misusing the site for the blog. But is this really? Since he doesn’t really distinguishes himself from the blog. But back to the use of pictures; the ProBlogger-FaceBook account uses the logo to represent the blog instead of Darren’s face. So he goes a bit back and forth between the use of his face and that of the logo to represent ProBlogger. A video on his personal YouTube (but which clearly is set up for the blog) called “Differentiate Yourself as a Blogger” helps to understand this. He recognizes the fact that the picture of himself on the website has gotten so much recognition: “(…) that picture has become associated with my brand.” and “(…) it distinguishes me and my blog.” So much recognition even, that it almost replaces the actual logo. The choice of words reveals a lot. It wasn’t completely intentionally, but he aknowledges the fact that his face is the brand and he makes use of this. It is all about making money out of blogging, so this is one way to go. Choosing the face over the logo, simply because it seems to work.
Pete Cashmore seems to make use of the fame of ‘Mashable!’ so people can find him. At least that’s the case with his LinkedIn account, where the name ‘mashable’ leads to his personal account. That’s about it what you can find in these sites on him. ‘Mashable!’ however has a name to uphold as the Social Networking Blog. You can see them play with this in different ways. Their MySpace account says to have 1536 trillion ‘friends’, which is pretty incredible seeing the fact that MySpace only has about 200 million accounts. They actually have 1536 ‘friends’. At Twitter you see them post an url back to ‘Mashable!’ in most of their posts. They basically link back to the website in everything they’ve signed up for. Except for maybe Digg, but most of the posts they digg is one of ‘Mashable!’
Peter Rojas (Engadget) and Gina Trapani (Lifehacker) share the same strategy. With the blog they’ve got lots of accounts in different places of which almost all of them link back to the blog. And they personally also have lots of accounts, but of which none link back to the blogs. If they do link somewhere, it is to their personal websites. If you compare that to the approaches of the blogs above, it is almost as if Peter and Gina are saying that they’re not merely bloggers. And if they were to connect their name solely to that project, it wouldn’t cover the rest anymore. To show off how allrounded they are, so to say. They clearly differentiate the person from the blog in the way they present themselves.
I wouldn’t say that Frank Warren (PostSecret), Markos Moulitsas (DailyKos), Ken Fischer (ArsTechnica), Nick Denton (Gizmodo) and Mark Frauenfelder (BoingBoing) share the same strategy. But they do seem to share the same preference of beholding their name for their personal use. It looks like this is the case, because they are virtually absent in the social sites that I’ve been looking through. Except for an occasional FaceBook account which I cannot access or Frauenfelder’s LinkedIn account. So, not only do they differentiate the person from the blog, they even differentiate the person from the web. They don’t hide their own existence like ‘Maki’ and ‘dailyrants77’, but they don’t feel the need to showcase themselves more than is necessary. They probably do recognize the fact that as soon as a name is stated somewhere you (or the blog in these cases) will be taken more seriously instead of when you make use of screennames. But it is of no benefit to the blog whether the reader knows that you like to play golf in your free time. So what they are actually doing is making very efficient use of the social sites.
Account = Non existing. Account = Existing, but chances are it’s a different person.
Account = Existing & right person, but not very active.
Account = Yes!
Account = Yes, but without url (with some Facebook accounts I couldn’t get hold of the exact url).
05 HuffingtonPost: YouTube
Flickr del.icio.us digg MySpace Twitter FaceBook
YouTube Flickr del.icio.us digg MySpace Twitter FaceBook
sub 12 FreedomBlog:
YouTube Flickr del.icio.us digg MySpace
YouTube Flickr del.icio.us digg MySpace
Person / Company / Otherwise
02 Mark Frauenfelder :
YouTube Flickr del.icio.us digg MySpace
05 Arianna Huffington :
YouTube Flickr del.icio.us digg MySpace
10 Beppe Grillo : (same name as blog, so see the results above)