Written by: Terry Van Horne | January 6, 2010
The Title is somewhat true but it’s not just Twitter, Social Media and Networking sites are affecting blog engagement and comments in particular. Social Media is partially responsible and was definitely a catalyst for change in the habits of the linkeroti (not a spelling mistake think link rot) and according to some stats and forecasts this could get worse before it gets better.
This is the second post on blog engagement with more to come! In the first Twitter: Blog Engagement Killer or Lazy Linkeratti? I discussed the phenomena of decreasing blog engagement on one of my favorite blogs. I first started to think about this seriously after reading a post on Hobo Web ( @hobo_web ) and noticing less comments on the Search Engine People blog. BTW two blogs I highly recommend and often comment on. SEP has since hidden the twitter comments and I do see more comments but it’s still not near what it was at it’s peak.
I like to start with something positive and when I came across this video it seemed a perfect fit. For those who are wondering why… I believe commenting is an artform!
Warning extreme geekery: tips on blog commenting
So… T what’s killing blog engagement? Have Bloggers changed the way they react to “content discovery”? Or is it the ways in which content sharing is happening? Or are visitors reluctant to comment among the ”noise” that is Twitter and Tweetmeme. ReTweets and Tweetmeme are, IMO, the blog equivalent of the much maligned “Me too” post on forums and blog comments.
Social Media has changed the Content Discovery and Sharing Habits in the Blogosphere
There are few ways to gauge the disruptive nature of new technology. In the case of bloggers feed reader stats and provider viability are good indicators of the changes that are occuring due to technology. Bloggers/linkeratti are just starting to notice the changes in their linking and sharing habits as Steve Rubel pointed out in the excerpt below:
Now, however, slowly but surely I am moving more of my consumption out of RSS and into the Twitter stream. Twitter, not blogs, long ago became the focal point for reading and conversing around news for many.
Reading the comments on that post are very interesting in that although almost all went to bat for RSS as a content discovery method it was more because of the characteristics of the twitter stream that result in missed opportunities and posts. Another equally enlightening post I discovered in Steve’s post is a report on ReadWriteWeb indicating that most of us who were even using RSS readers to begin with have ditched them and have moved to tracking news in the stream instead.
I am not in agreement with Steve that the conversation around content has moved from blog comments to Social networks. At least that has not been my personal experience, however, the SEO communitity is still a large part of my following and those I follow. In fact I wouldn’t be surpirised if 70% of those I follow are SEO or developers. IMO, they are less liable to engage on a blog or Twitter.
The Twitter RT or straight Tweet and other sharing have to some extent replaced comments as a way of expressing gratitude, exchanging ideas and thanks for quality info. TweetMeMe is, misguided or not, is used as an indicator of quality. We’ll leave the ways that can be a bad indicator for another day.
Social Networking and Micrblogging Provide More Value and Opportunities than Blogs
Blogs are very susceptible to Twitter and TweetMeMe eroding the number of comments and to a lesser degree links. In the past trackbacks and posts discussing another post were common because that was one of the automated means of sharing “content discovery”. Social networks are a more convenient and quicker means of fulfilling the sharing task.
PostRank, is a Waterloo startup that looks to be a real player in developing technology to measure blogs and Social engagement. The manner in which the technology segments Social signals is, for me, the first time I’ve seen Social signals that make the same sense as SEO analytics. i.e. I look at the numbers and can connect the dots and take action or it’s as simple as me noticing the engagement on blogs I’ve used for years is decreasing.
The dots, in the case of Blog Engagement don’t make for a pretty picture. The PostRank blog posted Measuring Engagement of the Social Web: ‘07-’09 which indicates a paradign shift occured in the blogosphere between 2007 and 2009. The blog ”linkeratti” are seemingly using less trackbacks and blogged responses to posts. Twitter, Social Networking sites like Facebook and microblogging sites like TypePad and Tumblr have replaced the trackback. One of the reasons could be new microblogging sites like Tumblr are tailor made for that post that’s just a quick response to a post or conversation.
Moreover it seems trackbacks are also in decline degrading seconday engagement and IBLs SEO’s are seeking from blogs. In fact to some degree sites like Tumblr and TypePad are designed to keep that engagement internal using reblog and like option buttons to encourage it. Many trackbacks were the result of responses to a post or a means to share the post with their audience. The Social Networking sites have gained most of that activity.
Here are some interesting stats from the post
- In absolute terms, when we sample over the top 1000 of the most engaging feeds for the past three years, we see approximately a 30% year over year growth in engagement –- a sign that more people are participating in the social web. The “share, and like this” phenomenon, which is sweeping through Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other social hubs, are all facilitating this trend.
- Between 2007 and 2009, the amount of on-site engagement has dropped by over 50%, while the off-site engagement has skyrocketed!
- From 2007 to 2009, the contribution of trackbacks to total engagement has dropped from 19% to 3%! In the meantime, channels such as Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook have gone up from less than 1% to over 29%.
- Back in 2007, we observed that over 94% of all the engagement occurred within the first day of publishing the article. Even more interestingly, the 98% of the engagement on that first day occurred within the first hour. In other words, the half-life of a story was, and still is, less than an hour! Fast forward to 2008 and 2009, and we’re seeing a steady increase in the lifespan of a story: down to 83% of total engagement for the first hour in 2008, and 64% in 2009.
- over 50% of the engagement happens in the first hour
- According to Forrester eight percent of US online adults post and read updates on Twitter at least monthly, while another 4% read but don’t post.
2010 Blog Engagement Strategies
The Forrester report also included this excerpt which indicates that going forward this Social Media phenomena will be important to your blog engagement strategy going forward
While modest, both of these groups will prove powerful for marketers to tap. They’re influential and highly active in social applications. Moreover, these Tweeters want to interact with you: 26% say they recently started to follow a company on Twitter. To tap this channel profitably, concentrate on delivering value, not just promoting your brand. Quickly engage people who mention your brand, share content worth tweeting about, recognize what tweets work, and dedicate staff to managing your Twitter presence.
eMarketer’s CEO made some prdictions and provided some good info pertinent to engagement and ad spending (usually the life blood of blogs) in the post Seven Predictions for 2010
- Looked at another way, while total US media spending will decrease by 14.6% this year, the $192 billion spent in 2008 will represent the absolute peak of media spending
- The measurement and accountability mandate will intensify demand for lower-cost, more efficient media.
- Media fragmentation will force marketers to target their messages to ever smaller niche audiences.
- Digital technologies are creating new opportunities for firms to self-market, such as a company’s own Website, online videos, e-mail marketing to existing customers and so forth. These channels end up bypassing paid media such as yellow pages and direct mail.
- There will be a continued emphasis on “earned media,” such as on social networks and other consumer-generated community platforms. This will also siphon dollars away from paid media.
- According to Forrester Research, 59% of US marketers plan to increase their budgets for digital by pulling funds from traditional outlets.
- And while ad spending on these sites will never represent a significant share of total online ad dollars, spending on non-advertising forms of social marketing will rise significantly next year and beyond.
- Advertising will support less and less of the load for content and entertainment. Fueled by the low cost of digital distribution, combined with vast amounts of consumer-generated content in the form of blogs, social networks, photo- and video-sharing sites, and rampant Twitter activity, media choices have exploded. There is no way advertising can pay all the freight for this media tonnage. In addition, marketers are clamoring for more direct contact with consumers, especially to engage with them on social networks, and this will divert ad money and attention away from third-party publishers.
- Marketers will be increasingly willing to trade off reach for deeper engagement. This goes right along with the drive toward improved targeting and increasingly efficient media buys. If a marketer is successful at the above—zeroing in on a narrow group of likely prospects—then there is a much better opportunity to engage with those consumers on a deeper, more meaningful basis.
Based on the information from the PostRank report and moreso the predictions by emarketer it is certain that bloggers must:
- Include 3rd party sites in their strategies
- Build both a following and system that enables them to amplify engagement on 3rd party sites
- Attention should shift to RSS feed subscribers and newsletter subs from blog comment because RSS feeds are a metric used in measuring blog engagement
In an environment of hyperSocial the audience and Social Networking opportunities of Facebook and audience that can be engaged on Twitter, TypePad and Tumblr provide traffic and unique visitors that blogs have never been able to match. I worked with bloggers marketing a consumer product and found that many reviews and giveawys do not deliver as much traffic, brand visibility (Social network streams) and in particular unique visitors.