My use of social media is not based on a business-model but the most accessible research on the evolution of social media is probably written by nerds and geeks who are learning from each other and/or those mining social media for market potential. So I follow what they do with interest. Innovations they develop can sometimes be useful for social media producers and users regardless of motivation. Examining each of the new tools and trends through an ethical lens is a great exercise for the spirit.

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I learned of this story through Steve Rubel’s Twitter tweet “Steve Baker from BusinessWeek is looking for Tweets on how social media is changing. Please give him a hand. http://tinyurl.com/4nlwmq

“Thursday 8:56 a.m. It’s the latest wrinkle on Descartes. I blog therefore I… consult. An entire industry is rising up to guide companies into this frightening new realm. And the consultants establish their brands and reps with their blogs.

Steve Rubel Perhaps the biggest is Steve Rubel. A year ago, the exec at the PR firm CooperKatz & Co. started his blog, Micro Persuasion. He was already pushing such clients as WeatherBug and the Association of National Advertisers into the blog world. Then early one Sunday morning, as he recalls it, “my wife was sleeping, and I was sitting in the living room, laptop on my lap, and thinking if I am talking to clients and reading these blogs, I should jump in.” When launching his site, he had the smarts to contact big shots such as Dan Gillmor, who was a leading blogger and tech reporter with the San Jose Mercury News. Gillmor linked to Rubel’s site, and his traffic took off. It was great for his brand, and it also gave Rubel a blogger’s education. “I became a living guinea pig for what I preach,” he says.

Now Rubel is positioned as an all-knowing Thumper in a forest of clueless Bambis. The first job, he says, is to monitor the blogs to see what people are saying about your company. (An entire industry is growing to sell that service. Even IBM’s (IBM ) banging at the door.) Next step: Damage-control strategies. How to respond when blogs attack. He says companies have to learn to track what blogs are talking about, pinpoint influential bloggers, and figure out how to buttonhole them, privately and publicly.

He gives the example of Netflix (NFLX ). When a fan blog called Hacking Netflix asked the company for info and interviews last year, Netflix turned it down. How could they make time for all the bloggers? Predictably, the blogger, Mike Kaltschnee, aired the exchange, and Netflix faced a storm of public criticism. Now Netflix feeds info to Kaltschnee, and he passes along what he’s hearing from the fans. Sounds like he’s half journalist, half consultant — though he insists Netflix doesn’t pay him (2005-05-02. “Blogs Will Change Your Business.” Business Week).”

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Aldred, Jessica; Astell, Amanda; Behr, Rafael, Cochrane, Lauren; Hind, John; Pickard, Anna; Potter, Laura; Wignall, Alice; Wiseman, Eva. 2008. “The World’s 50 Most Powerful Blogs.” Posted March 9, 2008. Updated March 14, 2008. << Technology << The Observer. The Guardian. UK.

Once a blog has reached the status as one of the top 50 it seems to enter into the realm of mass media, albeit an alternative and social mass media. It is encouraging then that rant-free blogs that serve as a thinking press, like Kottke and Crooked Timber, are so highly placed. Thanks to ReadWriteWeb again for drawing this valuable article to my attention. When I added it to my delicious favourites, a tsunami of key words were automatically generated. (The irrelevant synopsis is an excellent example of concerns re: poorly dugg articles that sparked debate recently in ReadWriteWeb.) papergirls.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/the-worlds-50-most-powerful-blogs.

http://digg.com/world_news/The_world_s_50_most_powerful_blogs

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/mar/09/blogs

https://papergirls.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/the-worlds-50-most-powerful-blogs/