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Thinking Things

A Lot Of Noise

Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? I write a blog, so while I hope this puts me in the latter group, I likely qualify for Platinum status in the former -- especially after hearing some staggering numbers. If you happen to be surfing the web, looking to sit by the fire and curl up with a good blog, well, you have 152 million to choose from, according to IDG’s Matthew Yorke, speaking at the recent Folio Show in New York and citing statistics from Technorati. Oh, you were looking only for fresh posts? Of those in the last 24 hours, seems you have 900,000 to sort through. Ok, eliminate the ones in non-interest categories, the ones that can’t construct a sentence, and those with nothing useful to say (please don’t abandon me yet), and you’re left with a more manageable number – say 75? If you have time to read one-fifth of those, you’re either bored at work, between jobs, or a blog consultant.

Consider these fascinating statistics reeled off by Yorke:  
  • There is one blog for about every 42 people on Earth.
  • 25 percent of time spent online in our society is spent on social media.
  • 46 percent of the world’s Internet users interact with social media daily.
  • 69 percent of business-to-business marketers are shifting budgets toward social media.
  • IBM has 20 Facebook pages.
  • $4.26 billion was spent on social media marketing this year.
  • Facebook has 800 million active accounts; 350 million are mobile users.
  • Facebook has 2 billion posts every day.
  • Twitter has 230 million tweets on average every day.
  • More than 70 percent of Twitter users are outside the U.S.
  • LinkedIn has 120 million users in more than 200 countries.
  • Ford says it got a 200 percent greater return for the Ford 2011 Explorer’s Facebook launch than it did for a Super Bowl ad.
  
It was great returning to the media world last week at the Folio Show. Sessions no longer instruct how to edit, how to design, how to “publish,” and how to work. The topics are more Big Picture, namely making sense of and managing digital and social media. I spend a lot of time in the meetings industry, so I’m used to hearing meetings people with budgets to hit or jobs to keep proclaim face-to-face meetings are “back.” (Actually, despite 152 million bloggers, a zillion generations of technology, and a recession or two, f2f never really went away.) Because of this crusade in the meetings industry, it’s easier for me to hear the case about a robust publishing market for print: 77,000 publications in the U.S. and Canada, says MediaFinder; 1,400 new advertising-generating brands being followed daily by Magazine Radar. Many of today’s brands anchor their strategies with print -- for the credibility, regularity, and to preserve the advertising form that charges the most. I liken the plight of print media to my sensation a few years back on a zip line in Costa Rica – hanging on for dear life and, for goodness sake, don’t look down!

Now certainly not all brands are clinging to the zip line cord like I was (see picture) – there are many that continue to prosper in print based on their merits and markets alone. But most integrated strategies have been overwhelmed by digital – and specifically social media – as a more-than-substantial information source. In fact the data flow is massive beyond comprehension – there’s a lot of noise out there. All the gaudy numbers help me understand how I can shout as loud as I want (bloggers don’t really have volume control) and never be heard. But if I use best practices to understand and touch my intended audiences with the right media and messages, I can level the playing field a little bit and create a flock.

Yorke also pointed out that bloggers are judged by the number of their followers, not so much their experience and background. Editors with journalism degrees apparently have no clear-cut advantage in their battle for audience affections. Yorke said only 3 percent of today’s bloggers come from professional media companies.

The free market for thought is more competitive than ever. But if that encourages – in fact demands -- a higher quality of content as an entry fee for attracting attention, then the system works -- at least until the next media paradigm comes along.

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