Blogger Spectrum

We had an interesting social media discussion on Plurk today (now known as a Plurkshop) that raised a lot of questions. There were many participants in the quickly shifting conversation, including Amber Naslund, Connie Reece, Tim Jackson, Beth Harte and Mack Collier. The conversation started by talking about managing conversations across different platforms (Amber has a great wrap-up here), but along the way, the conversation shifted and changed. One of the questions that was raised concerns the objectives of social media — how do you use/activate social media and why. The answer depends on where in the media spectrum that you sit.

At the far end of the blogging spectrum, there is the lone blogger who is writing for their own enjoyment — the diarist. Then comes the activist or even passionate brand evangelist. In the centre is the Careerist — the blogger who writes as a demonstration of their skills and expertise. Next comes the “expert” blogger who writes about their area of knowledge. Then there is the corporate blogger which is written from a business perspective. Professional  bloggers can roam across any or all of these categories (and I am sure there are many others). But each of these bloggers will have their own objectives ranging from the personal to the professional — but there is something that they have in common — a desire to create a community.


Even the most strident blogger will gain some kind of pleasure from having their material read. They will love a comment here or there. They will thrill to a rise in subscriptions. Why? It is about community. In many ways, we build our world around opposing forces — our friends and our enemies. We can have a community that encompasses both.

So, is building a small community, or readership worth it? Clearly it is. Those blogs with a handful of readers/commenters will only continue as long as there is some form of value exchanged. But even the most personal of blogs may, at some point, become a money making venture. Take for example, the story of Lucas Cruikshank who has built a formidable YouTube subscriber base. At first instance, you can wonder what can drive a 14 year old to write, produce, star in, and distribute a series about a six year old — but clearly, in doing so, Lucas has opened opportunities for himself and his family (while at the same time building his own skills and experience).

You may not start with the aim of turning your social media/content into a business, but once a community forms and achieves a critical mass, opportunities will be pulled into your gravitational field. This is, perhaps, the great leveller of social media — the traditional barriers to entry in media are related to reach and production cost. Both are dramatically lowered thanks to social media.

After all, with social media, it is not where you start that is important. It is the journey, and the story that you tell (or allow to be told) along the path.

9 thoughts on “Blogger Spectrum

  1. Gavin,
    Great post summarizing last night’s Plurkshop. Sorry I missed it but you have filled in the gaps here and I so appreciate it! See you on Plurk.:)

  2. Great post… great summary… and yes I fit in there and it all makes sense. Not interested in the making money yet, still enjoying the conversation. But we’ll see. cheers for this wrap up xc
    PS got the link from Plurk – so you have a new blog customer c/o Plurk :>

  3. Thanks for a great post Gavin! I guess, from my point of view, even if you are not yet looking to turn your blog into a business, there are two intrinsic forms of compensation any blogger gets from joining the conversation:
    1- the emotional compensation when you write and get things off your chest and ideas out of your brain and into the world and the thrills you get when the you know someone is reading your stuff.
    2- Even if you are not writing for business, blogging becomes a great source of opportunities: first on a personal level by allowing you to establish relationships, even close friendships with some of the greatest minds in the blogsphere which opens the door for you to an enormous universe of knowledge and ideas; and on a professional level as well, since as you keep on writing and sharing, other bloggers and readers happen to invite you to speaking engagements, special presentations, co-write for special projects (like AOC ’08!), or some might even end up having great job offers too!
    This all said, for me, the greatest compensation is to be able to connect with real people in the real world through this virtual blogging world.

  4. I like your point about creating a community – I am always dissappointed when bloggers don’t reply to their comments…
    I have met many cool people through my blogging… it even changed my life! I am just about to start a new job as a social media strategist!

  5. Kristen … I think the Plurkshops are going to become an interesting phenomenon!
    Charlie … Nice to meet you! Great blog — will see you on Plurk, no doubt!
    Efrain … the intangibles of blogging are very powerful. I still love receiving every single comment! Just know that someone has taken the time to leave a message gives me a thrill.
    Lolly … Looking forward to hearing how the new job affects you views of social media!

  6. It’s interesting. I often say to people who are looking to build the next big “thing” online that they have to focus on the community first. Guy Kawasaki and others have made it abundantly clear that monetization is easy when the network effect kicks in.
    But I guess the reverse is true, as well, no? Build a large enough network (community) and the pressure to monetize likely increases exponentially…

  7. Hey Gavin – great to learn from you last night during the Plurkshop. You made so many great points.
    The wonderful thing about social media and these online communities is that they’re so self-reinforcing. Putting out great content and ideas leads to reaction and engagement which prompts you to create even more material that’s of interest and value to your audience, whoever they might be. Thanks for a great post, and look forward to more great conversation with you.

  8. Typologies probably do more harm than good, but I love them anyway for the order they bring to our universe – even if we only pretend for a little while. But I also believe it does progress the debate, especially in emerging sciences…
    Rather than ‘spectrum’, I went matrix 🙂

  9. Gavin, you are 100% correct…it’s about community. As a sole-marketer, it’s important to have a community where I can brain storm with, get advice from, and learn along side other marketers and social media folks. Which is exactly why I find the PlurkShops so valuable.

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