There is no doubt that blogging has changed especially within the compressed Internet timeline where news can be found first on Twitter before it even makes mainstream news sites like CNN. Bloggers were among the first to realize and in many cases successfully capitalize on the brand that their name and content had become. It is bloggers like Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble who through their content and the comments around their content proved that even a single individual could translate themselves into a marketable commodity.
Without that content or the comments that would organically grow around that person’s thoughts or ideas there was no brand – there was no marketability. While RSS feeds may have changed the game to a certain point it still required the content from that marketable person. The early bloggers learned this marketability and branding lesson very quickly and as such even those that didn’t ink profitable advertising deals they still found that their brand could bring them associated business that allowed them to increase their brand value.
Then blogging exploded; and to a certain extent is still exploding, and RSS feeds expanded the marketplace even more. Some bloggers who really understood the money aspect of this formed their own blog networks and yet other bloggers used their blogs as launching pads for ventures that in turn brought them comfortable livings.
For those bloggers that followed the early leaders the road forward hasn’t been as easy or as profitable as it was for those who jumped on the gravy train in the beginning. Many have gone down the road of doing nothing more than rehashing of what the more popular bloggers are saying hoping that the power of the link will make their brand worth something. Others have gone the route of trying to bring new ideas and concepts to the table hoping that this would make their brand something of worth.
The fact is that as human beings we want or need to be recognized for what we think or say. For some that recognition can be something as simple as praise from one’s peers. For other that recognition may come in the form of financial gain. It is a simple thing of human nature that we like to believe that we have a value. For those that blog how that value is arrived at is as wide and varied as the subjects we talk about but the fact is that we like to believe that our words are worth something.
This weekend that whole concept was thrown into the dumpster when the blogosphere got its weekend bitchmeme when people weighed in over how an aggregator service called Shyftr was for all intents and purposes taking blogger’s posts and reposting them on the Shyftr site and letting people comment within Shyftr on those posts. There were a lot of really good posts from either side of the issue of whether what Shyftr was doing was right or wrong. I know myself my first reaction was one of being totally against what Shyftr was doing and to a certain point even though they have taken the community feelings into account and changed I still don’t like the idea.
What has come out of this though is a much bigger issue for which Shyftr was more of a flash point than anything else. We are being told that once we have written our posts we no longer have any say over what happens to them. In effect we are having to give up the vary basis of what gives our brand its very worth. Using everything from the cocktail party argument to the inevitability of technology to constantly change the rules of the game notable bloggers are telling us to basically chill out and not worry that the way some of us make a living isn’t important anymore.
So as we watch our pageviews and revenue streams decline because it’s now okay that the conversations can either be taken over by other services or that the center around which we are trying to build our brand isn’t important anymore we find ourselves adrift not knowing what our worth is anymore. It’s okay that someone else can build a brand off of our now non-important brand. It’s okay that any conversations over our original thoughts can take place anywhere because the home we have worked hard to build for our brand isn’t worth anything anymore.
In the meantime as people bandy around fancy ass terms like fractured comments and point us to pointless graphs anyone now trying to build a brand is basically being told you’re fucked because the very value of what that brand could be isn’t important anymore because we have no way to put brand parameters around this so-called new way of communicate. We have no way to measure anymore the value of our now diminishing brand. As Mia on the Marketing Mystic blog said:
For folks who blog for a living, the lack of trackability (and measurement) is a real issue and needs to be resolved. I think that the social media tools like feed readers have evolved so fast that the players/bloggers haven’t been able to keep up. Now we are scrambling to control the conversation, instead of enhancing the tools that caused this ‘fracturization’ of conversation in the first place.
Or as Tony Hung points out
Conversations happen everywhere, and we can’t really control that. We can invent tools that can keep track of things, and we can *hope* that wherever the conversation goes, people remember who said what, and attribute appropriately.
But right now the only way we have to measure our brand worth is our blogs and the conversations that are held around our posts; only now that’s not important anymore. So tell me – how much are my words worth now?
Hey, like this post? Why not share it with a buddy?