Record Visits for UK Blog Sites
Nearly half of the UK’s online population visited at least one blog during August, according to a survey. Yet one recent report said blogging’s day has passed, so what’s the true reflection? New Media Knowledge spoke to three prominent bloggers for their take.
According to a study from market research group comScore, 14.5 million people in the UK visited at least one blog during the month of August, equating to 41 per cent of the country’s total online population.
comScore Europe’s managing director, Herve Le Jouan, said: “Blogs have become part of the essential fabric of the Internet today. They live and breathe in real-time, helping quench media consumers’ thirst for the most up-to-date breaking news, information, and analysis. It should not, therefore, be particularly surprising that they’re increasingly displacing traditional media usage and carving out an ever-increasing slice of the online advertising pie.”
comScore found that during August, the most popular blog platform was Blogger.com, which is owned by Google and attracted more than nine million visitors, followed by WordPress (4.8 million visitors) and Six Apart sites (2.7 million visitors).
The New Community
So why has visiting blog sites become popular? According to Katie Lee, editorial director at women’s gadget website Shiny Shiny, herself a prominent blogger, the growth in visits to blog sites is down to a combination of increased Web-savviness, the presence of celebrity bloggers and a natural human need for community.
“I think that blogs bring people together in the same way that our garden fences, churches, local pubs and village halls used to in the days when the world was a bit slower paced and communities were tighter,” she told NMK. “It’s important for humans to share fairly mundane trivialities of their day - or at least that’s what the anthropologists tell us - and it’s something we now do by speaking to like-minded people online and sharing those little details that are important to us. That’s why hobby blogs about gardening and knitting are so popular.”
New World Order
comScore claims that blogs are increasingly displacing traditional media usage and recent statistics appear to back that up. During August, less people read newspapers than read blogs, with 11.25 million Brits buying a paper compared to 14.5 million visiting blogs.
James Whatley is a social media strategist for SpinVox, whose technology converts voicemails into text and email messages, and also runs his own technology-related blog. According to Whatley, the openness of the Web means that ‘traditional media usage’ in the advertising world increasingly does not work.
“The scatter-gun approach of numbers of eyeballs equating to real return of investment has finally been revealed to be an over-simplification. The only displacement that’s going on is suddenly consumers are able to connect to each other in a meaningful way, cutting out ‘the middle man’, if you will,” he said.
“Combine this with the actual time-spend that creating and consuming blog content or media and suddenly you have a large dent in your usual media consumption habits. This, of course, ultimately forms part of a general shift, which means that advertisers need to be a bit more savvy about their approach to online media,” Whatley concluded.
Only last month, some in the industry were writing off blogging as passé, something described as “so 2004”, but Becky McMichael, head of technology and corporate division at PR consultancy Ruder Finn UK, believes that blogging is here to stay, although it will inevitably evolve.
“[The number of UK blog visitors] is one hell of a large audience still interested in the content that UK bloggers are producing. With that many people interested in blog content why stop?” she said. “I am finding that I use Twitter a lot more than I blog but I tend to just make comments or post links as opposed to writing more opinion based pieces. They take time and ‘tweeting’ is the easy option for me at least. Twitter also provides a two-way dialogue in real time, cutting out the time it takes to comment or reply via a blog.”
McMichael added that applications such as Twitwall were making it easier for bloggers to combine short, snappy microblogs with longer posts and multimedia, which she believes could be a big draw for bloggers tiring of the text-heaving blog format.
So what will the successful blogs of the future look like? Shiny Shiny’s Lee believes blogging will evolve into varying forms, with specialist microblogging tools, such as http://www.blip.fm and 12Seconds, developing wider communities. While it is hard for new bloggers to make their voices heard, she says that those more specialist channels will allow people to feel that they are getting more interaction even if their audience is smaller.
“I don’t think that blogging will die out, but I do think publishers will start to be a bit more creative with how they provide content,” she said. “However, I think that blogging has shown many traditional publishers that you need to find a different sort of voice when you’re writing for the web - which many of them still haven’t got right. Whatever happens to blogging, I don’t think bloggers or blog readers will want to give up that voice without a tussle.”