Social Media: Who’s On Your Blogroll – And Who Cares?

What we loosely call "social media" is built on shifting sands. When I first started blogging what now seems like eons ago, blogrolls were a hot topic. Even now I still get the occasional email from someone asking for a “link exchange”. (And if you are reading this, please note, I will link to you as long as you write something worth reading.) 

Blogrolls – those long lists of websites scrolling down the side of a blog were the equivalent of gold, achieving four things at once:

  1. Roll call: It is an easy to use way of reading your favourite blogs. Simply click through and read
  2. Inbound links: Creating an inbound link for another website pushes it further up the Google search rankings
  3. Social capital: When you link to another website it provides an easy way to drive traffic to another’s website. Just like you share your ideas and content on your blog, links on a blogroll allow you to share your readers
  4. Social proof: A link on a blogroll shows your readers (and the authors of linked websites) what you consider worth reading. It’s an endorsement and acts as a form of social proof.

Over the last couple of years, the practice of updating and actively managing a blogroll has fallen away. In my case, it is to do with the sheer number of quality blogs that I read – I have effectively moved my blogroll to a feedreader – so it no longer functions as a roll call of my favourite blogs.

However, the remaining points hold true. Inbound links are still important for website rankings, creating context for your readers via links to other sites is essential and in the great sea of anonymous web analytics, it’s great to know that YOU read ME.

So it is in this spirit that I am making a concerted effort to update my blogroll. Today I will be adding the following blogs to my long-neglected blogroll.

  • Matthew Gain: Writes a great blog on PR and the changing media landscape. He provides deep analysis on interesting topics (well, interesting to me, anyway). His blog (and Posterous) site are a great filter – it’s what you need without the distraction
  • Dave Phillips: The Cafe Dave blog is a lovely mix of personal thinking and coffee reviews. A regular of coffee mornings here in Sydney, Dave is to go-to guy when it comes to getting a latte just right.
  • Gavin Costello: Opinionated and pithy, the franksting blog dissects a range of social media and product marketing topics. You’ll love it.
  • Vocal Branding: The always charming Tim Noonan has a special gift. He can hear the way your brand makes people feel. And if you come to coffee morning he will read back the personal brand in your voice. Scared?
  • Sales Habitudes: I was lucky enough to meet Jeff Garrison during a recent trip to the US. I was amazed to be introduced to an energized group of bloggers and social media folk living and working in and around Des Moines, Iowa. Jeff’s blog brings a refreshing focus on sales – yes, social media + sales. Believe it.
  • Rob James: The blog of local startup Posse’s CTO, is full of tech, gadgets and tips. But I am hoping for some behind the scenes storytelling as Rob helps Posse take on the big players of the music promotion world.
  • My Proactive Life: The energetic Andrew Blanda has stopped talking and started walking. It’s a great blog (and personal diary) about transforming your life … from someone who is in the midst of doing just that.
  • A Cat in a Tree: Cathie McGinn’s intriguingly titled blog muses on topics close to her heart – from work to life and all the things in between.
  • B2B Marketing Insider: Michael Brenner’s prolific blogging on B2B topics is a must read for the serious marketer. How he finds time to also write the B2C Marketing Insider blog as well is anyone’s guess.
  • Happiness We Share: Nicola Swankie has the curious ability to weave marketing, social media and personal history into compelling blog posts. Definitely one to watch.
  • Warlach’s World: Lachlan Hibbert-Wells is a self-confessed geek. More on the cultural studies side of the fence than technology, he shines a light on the strange dance that we people do with the gadgets and technologies we love.
  • Marc Jarman: Promises to blog more. Of course, promises are cheap. I am hoping to see more on the orchestration of social media!

14 thoughts on “Social Media: Who’s On Your Blogroll – And Who Cares?

  1. Just a heads up – the ‘link exchange’ via the blog roll offers only very minor link value (Google Juice, Ranking power etc).
    To truly give someone a good Google juice update is to refer to their blog (either branded or generic term) within the post (as it considers things such as keywords around the link and anchor text etc).
    Reciprocal links can be easily massaged and Google knows this. It knows everything.
    Think about WikiPedia, everyone links to it.. but the links going out are no-follow (so no value passed on).

  2. As you say, getting on other peoples blogrolls used to be important. I just use them to see what people who I am interested in are writing. For me more than for them.

  3. Of course – it’s why I put everyone into this post first 😉
    Also – creating this type of context is much more useful for readers. A link alone doesn’t explain why anyone should click through or subscribe.

  4. Like Colin, I use blogrolls as a source of information. If a person who I think is awesome, advocates someone else, then they too must be awesome!
    As a result of this post I’ve started following a few new people. I also suggest that those junior-burger strategists explore in this manner. I encourage them to start with one blog and continuously click through to other blogs on a journey of advocacy. It can lead you to great places that you never knew existed.

  5. Interesting post.
    One observation that I make about your site is that in the “More Chaos” area you make links to blogs. I don’t believe you link to people’s microblogs (Twitter, etc etc). I find this curious as I suspect that “chaos” also occurs there.
    That made me ask if anyone does that. Do you know of people who have a microblogroll on their blog? Is there a reason beyond historical convention that this doesn’t occur?

  6. Interesting question! My view is that blogs offer more of a permanent record – and that microblogs like Twitter are more ephemeral.
    Perhaps Twitter-lists are the blogrolls of the microblog world?

  7. Oh jeepers, now you brought back a flood of memories of the golden days of blogging 🙂

  8. Gavin,
    Thanks for adding me to the list -I’ve long worried that having too diverse a range of topics on the one blog has been a negative thing, but I’m getting to be too set in my ways (it’s been about 10 years now) to split things up!
    I miss the days of the carefully curated blogroll: when I first made the switch to a feed reader, I gained a lot of convenience, but I missed out on interacting with the designs of my friends’ sites – the RSS experience sacrifices much of the richness of blog reading in the “old days”, all because there’s so much to drink from the firehose that we miss out.
    I join with Der Mann in appreciating the memories of the golden days.

  9. Thanks for the addition Gavin.
    A theory I have kicking around is that blog lists could be replaced by your Delicious feed. It gives a real and updated view of what you are reading and what you are finding interesting at any time.
    Don’t let that hinder you from adding me though. I welcome being added to a list so full of interesting and clever people.

  10. Thank you for adding me to your list Gavin. It means a lot to me as a relative newbie to Australia and social media land.
    The journey I have been on since arriving in the country last year has taken me in a totally unexpected direction, but one I’ve become very passionate about very fast, plus I’ve been lucky enough to meet some awesome and inspiring people along the way.
    Just even having a blog has pushed me to try and do more with my thinking, apply my learning and inspire me to do more. I’m curious myself to see what I end up doing with it. 🙂

  11. I’m chuffed to be included, and looking through the others, I’m chastened too. So thanks Gavin, for giving me the nod, and a nudge.

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