State of the Blogosphere 2011

State of the Blogosphere 2011

 

Welcome to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2011 report. Since 2004, our annual study has followed growth and trends in the blogosphere. This year’s topics include: blogging and social media, bloggers and traditional media, traffic and analysis, brands and marketing in the blogosphere, bloggers’ motivations and consequences, monetization, and changes within the blogosphere over 2011.

INTRODUCTION

The Blogosphere is constantly changing and evolving. In 2011 we are seeing bloggers updating their blogs more frequently and spending more time blogging. The type of information influencing blogging has shifted from conversations with friends, which was the primary influence in 2010, to other blogs, which for 68% of bloggers are having more of an influence in 2011.

This year we have chosen to display our results according to five different types of bloggers:

1) Hobbyist: The backbone of the blogosphere, and representing 60% of the respondents to this survey, Hobbyists say that they “blog for fun” and do not report any income. Half of hobbyists prefer to express their “personal musings” when blogging. 60% indicate they spend less than three hours a week blogging, yet half of hobbyists respond individually to comments from readers. Because 72% blog to speak their minds, their main success metric is personal satisfaction (61%).

2-3) Professional Part- and Full-Timers: These bloggers represent 18% of our total group. They are independent bloggers who either use blogging as a way to supplement their income, or consider it their full-time job. Most of these professional bloggers don’t consider blogging their primary source of income. This group primarily blogs about personal musings and technology

4) Corporate: Corporate bloggers make up 8% of the blogosphere. They blog as part of their full-time job or blog full-time for a company or organization they work for. These bloggers primarily talk about technology and business in their blogs. 70% blog to share expertise, 61% to gain professional recognition, and 52% to attract new clients. They have found that blogging has given them greater visibility in their industry (64%) and company (63%). 63% of corporate bloggers use their number of unique visitors to measure success.

5) Entrepreneurs: 13% of the blogosphere is characterized as entrepreneurs, or individuals blogging for a company or organization they own. 84% of these bloggers blog primarily about the industry they work in, with 46% blogging about business and 40% about technology. 76% blog to share expertise; 70% blog to gain professional recognition; and 68% to attract new clients for their business.

WHO ARE THE BLOGGERS?

We started with a basic inquiry about the identity of the respondents. Roughly three fifths are male, a proportion that holds true over all blogger types. Not surprisingly, a majority of bloggers are in the 25-44 age range – but a third are over 44.

Although our survey was administered only in English, bloggers responded from 45 countries, with nearly half from the United States.

U.S. bloggers are pretty evenly distributed across the country. The states with the highest concentrations of bloggers are:

California 15%,
New York 7%,
Texas 6%,
Florida 5%,
Illinois 4%,
Massachusetts 4%,
Virginia 4%,
Washington 4%,
Georgia 3%,
Maryland 3%,
Michigan 3%.

We inquired into the education level of the respondents:

Income: While half of Corporates receive no annual salary for blogging, and the mean non-salary income of that blogger type was $17,101, 54% report an annual household income of $50,000 or more. This seems to indicate that the majority of Corporates are using any revenue from blogging as a supplement to their household income.

The majority of every blogger type reported being married, and in most categories, close to half were parents:

A quarter of respondents reported being self-employed, while just under half told us they were employed full-time:

Overall, fewer bloggers reported this year that they are making a living via their blogs.

From the series of charts above, we can make a number of revealing observations:

Interestingly, only 37% of Professional Full Time respondents say they derive their primary income from blogging.

  • Of these Professional Full Time bloggers, 55% are a parent (and 57% of Entrepreneurs are a parent). That’s almost 10% higher than other segments of bloggers (46% of Hobbyists, 48% of Professional Part Timers, and 48% of Corporates).
  • As we would expect, Professional Full Time bloggers are much less likely to be (otherwise) employed full time, much more likely to be self-employed, and somewhat more likely to be a stay-at-home parent or retired.
  • Professional Full Timers (56%) and Entrepreneurs (63%) are also more likely to be married than Hobbyists (51%), especially Entrepreneurs, who are 12% more likely.
  • Professional Full Timers skew older when compared to all other bloggers: Only 28% are under 34 years old, vs. 38% overall.
  • Professional Full Timers are fairly highly educated – 41% have at least some graduate work (31% have an actual graduate degree). This is lower than the 55% of Corporate bloggers who have done at least some grad work, but likely high relative to the general population.

Combining these demos, we see a picture of Professional Full Timers as slightly older and likely to be in life circumstances (such as having another income due to marriage, or being currently a stay-at-home parent) that allow them time to pursue professional routes such as blogging. While they are not more educated than other bloggers, it is interesting that they are still relatively highly educated compared to the general population and therefore more likely to have expertise in specialized topics which their blogs give them an opportunity to leverage.

The majority of bloggers have been blogging for at least two years.

The average number of blogs per respondent has increased slightly since 2010, from two to three.

Nine out of ten who own a company or maintain a blog for their company blog about their industry.

Among those whose blog is a business, 81% manage the blog themselves. Corporate bloggers are most likely to have a paid full- or part-time staff (38%).

60% of respondents say they blog up to three hours per week, with the rest (40%) blogging more than three hours per week. 13% of all respondents say they blog more than 10 hours per week—as do 63% of Professional Full Timers.

The majority of respondents update their blog two to three times per week. Professional Full Time bloggers tend to update their blog more frequently than any other bloggers, with 26% reporting that they update their blog at least three times per day.

With the exception of Professional Full Time bloggers, most indicate that they are updating their blog about as often as when it first launched. 44% of Professional Full Time bloggers report blogging a lot more frequently than they did when they first launched their blog.

Overall, there is a rise in the number of bloggers who say they are blogging more, and fewer bloggers report they are blogging less.

A large number of respondents who are blogging more are driven by both personal and professional benefits to do so. Along with their interactions with their audience, many Corporate bloggers (64%) and Entrepreneurs (73%) say they are blogging more because it has proven to be valuable for promoting their business and also valuable to their profession (60%)

The key driver of decreased blogging is an increase in work and family commitments, which is reported as a factor by 61% of respondents who are blogging less. Consistent with last year’s findings, a fair number of respondents who are blogging less said that their devotion to social networks (31%) and microblogging (29%) has curtailed their blogging.

BLOGGERS AND THE TRADITIONAL MEDIA

We continue to see a very large overlap between bloggers and traditional media. Almost one third of bloggers have worked for the traditional media, with a monthly magazine being the most common form (41%). 55% of Professional Full Timers and half of all Corporate bloggers have worked for a monthly magazine in the past. Of those who have worked with traditional media, 24% are still employed and blog separately.

Nearly all (96%) bloggers have an independent blog.

81% report that their blog is part of a non-media company.

BRANDS AND THE BLOGOSPHERE

The blogosphere is influencing itself – respondents say that the number one influence on the topics they blog about are other blogs they read, a huge jump from 2010. Conversations with friends and social media accounts are also influencing blogging topics.

38% of respondents say they blog about brands that they love or hate. 33% of Professional Part Timers post reviews at least once a week.

Among Hobbyists and Professionals working with brands, product reviews have elicited the most positive response. Among Corporate and Entrepreneur bloggers, the best response has come from advice or consultative content.

65% of bloggers use social media to follow brands, and this holds fairly consistently across blogger types, indicating a common practice. Further, blogging on these brands is a common activity.

Bloggers are being actively courted. Nearly four out of 10 overall, 59% of Professional Part Timers, and 66% of Professional Full Timers have been approached to write about or review products. Pros are approached eight times per week on average. The most frequently approached Hobbyist, Professional Part Time, Professional Full Time, and Entrepreneur bloggers report being approached more than 200 times per week.

The majority of bloggers report that they are influenced by the overall behavior of a brand or company. Close to 20% of bloggers report that they boycott products as a result.

Nine out of ten bloggers (91%) say it is important that the advertising on their blogs align with their values. Corporate bloggers see this as less important, with 11% agreeing that advertising does not need to align with values.

The majority of bloggers feel that bloggers are treated less professionally by brand representatives compared to traditional media.

Among those bloggers working with brands, most who have an opinion characterize their interactions with brand representatives as somewhat favorable, but a full 40% don’t know – indicating these relationships are still emerging.

Among those who work with brands, most would prefer to work directly rather than with an intermediary.

Professional Full Time bloggers view communications from brands as valuable for the most part, though 19% say brands are asking for things that would hurt bloggers’ credibility or content standards.

Product reviews are the most common type of brand programs among bloggers. Professionals also participate in traditional PR announcement coverage and sponsored posts.

More than half of respondents indicate they would participate in product reviews.

Most (86%) – but not all – bloggers who participated in sponsored posts indicate that they disclosed that the post was sponsored or paid.

After reviewing a product, 58% disclosed that they had been given the product for review, and 53% kept it.

Among those working with brands, 45% are aware of the FTC ruling on disclosure. Professional Part Timers and Full Timers have higher awareness (56% and 64% respectively) of it. 59% said the ruling had not had any effect on their blogging activities.

We asked bloggers to name their most and least favorite brands to work with. There is a lot of overlap, particularity with Apple and Microsoft. Google and Amazon really stand out as favorite brands to work with, and don’t resonate much as least favorite brands.

Who are your three favorite brands to work with?

Who are your three least favorite brands to work with?

We asked respondents for their views on blogging vs. other types of media. Among other things, we found that more than two thirds believe their blogs are getting taken more seriously as sources of information, with 76% of Professional Full Timers agreeing.

MEDIA HABITS OF BLOGGERS

Overall, 14% of bloggers spend at least 21 hours per week visiting social media sites. About two thirds spend less than an hour watching TV shows on their computer, tablet or smartphone or uploading photos to photo-sharing sites.

 

CONSUMERS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

This is the second year we surveyed consumers on their trust of and attitudes toward the media they consume. Compared with other media, blogs continue to outpace other social media and many traditional media in terms of trust and generating consumer recommendations and purchases. Facebook remains somewhat influential, but less so than blogs, and Twitter has seen a drop in influence over the past year.

 

WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE BLOGGERS: MOTIVATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES OF BLOGGING

Among Professionals, Corporates, and Entrepreneurs, the leading metric of success is the number of unique visitors, while 42% of Professional Part Timers and 38% of Professional Full Timers cited revenue as the leading metric compared to 13% of respondents overall. 69% of Hobbyists say that personal satisfaction is a way they measure the success of their blog, compared to 57% of Professional Part Timers, 49% of Professional Full Timers, 40% of Corporate bloggers and 47% of Entrepreneur bloggers.

Asked by what measure they rank themselves against other bloggers, respondents overall cited personal satisfaction as number one, with the number of unique visitors coming in second.

70% of all bloggers use their blog to share their expertise and experience with others. Professionals also use their blog as a way to make money or supplement their income. Corporate and Entrepreneur bloggers are looking to gain professional recognition, while also using their blog as a way to attract new clients to their business.

Asked what is the primary reason they blog, the greatest number of respondents overall said they use their blog as a way to share expertise and experience with others. Many Hobbyists use it as a source to speak their mind on an area of interest (31%) while Entrepreneurs primarily use their blog to attract new clients to their business (29%).

Overall, respondents seem to feel that blogging has had a positive impact on their personal life. 54% of respondents agree that they have made friends through their blog, and the same number agree that they have become more involved with their passion areas as a result of blogging. More than 60% of Corporate and Entrepreneur bloggers have gained greater visibility in their industry through blogging.

Almost half of respondents primarily blog about the industry they work in, but there is a clear progressive increase of this likelihood as blogging activity advances from hobby, to professional, and on to corporate or entrepreneur.

36% of all bloggers have been quoted in the traditional media for something they posted on a blog and more than half of Professional Full Time bloggers have been quoted.

 

Over half of respondents plan on blogging more frequently in the future and 52% plan on expanding the topics they blog about.

SOCIAL MEDIA

82% of bloggers surveyed are using Twitter, with almost all Professional Full Timers (93%) and Professional Part Timers (91%) using Twitter and having on average over 1,000 followers. Those who use Twitter say they do so to promote their blog (77%), follow friends (60%), and bring interesting links to light (59%). Professional, Corporate, and Entrepreneur bloggers use Twitter to promote themselves professionally.

Nearly half of bloggers who use Twitter link their blogs to it. Among respondents who do not use Twitter, the most common reason for not doing so is a lack of desire to broadcast one’s life (45%). Another 42% simply don’t have time.

Almost nine out of ten bloggers surveyed (89%) use Facebook. 50% of all bloggers have separate Facebook pages for their blog and for their personal account, a jump from only 34% last year.

Among respondents who have only a personal Facebook page, 60% are not linking their page to their blog in any way.

Among Facebook users, the most common reason for using the social network is to promote one’s blog. 61% of Entrepreneur bloggers use Facebook to promote their business.

More than half of respondents who use Facebook don’t link their personal Facebook account to their blog. 60% of those who have both Facebook and Twitter don’t link the two accounts to each other.

More than six out of ten respondents use Google+. Of those who use this service only 13% have a separate account for their blog and personal use.

Among Google+ users, the most common reasons for using the social network is to bring interesting links to light (43%) and promote their blog (33%).

Most do not link their personal Google+ account to their blog.

Other than Facebook and Twitter, the most popular social networking platforms among respondents are LinkedIn and YouTube. Not surprisingly, respondents found Facebook and Twitter to be the most effective social networking tools to market their blogs and drive traffic.

Across all bloggers, Professional Full Timers spend the most time sharing blog posts with their social media followers.


BLOGGING TOPICS

Personal musings are most blogged about by Hobbyists, while Professional, Corporate and Entrepreneur bloggers tend to blog about technology. Business is also a very popular topic for Corporate and Entrepreneur bloggers.

79% of all respondents describe their blogging style as “sincere,” and 67% describe their style as “conversational.” Professional, Corporates, and Entrepreneurs also describe their style as “expert.”

According to bloggers, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami generated the greatest amount of buzz in the blogosphere this past year. 38% of respondents said they read about the earthquake and tsunami on blogs and 10% blogged about it themselves.

22% felt that the Arab Spring received the greatest positive impact from the blogosphere. Conversely, 13% of respondents felt that blogs had the most negative impact on the controversy surrounding the Florida pastor who wanted to burn the Quran.

BRANDS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: WHAT DO THE MARKETERS SAY?

We heard from marketers who are just getting started in social media, and veterans who are using every available tool. We also received detailed examples and case studies, which we’ll be profiling in upcoming articles. We also asked them about the most significant developments in social media in 2011 and their predictions for the coming year.

Overall, advice was centered along these main themes:

  • Encourage and enable sharing across platforms.
  • Bloggers are trusted peers. Work with them to create or curate unfiltered, credible content and reviews, in order to create a conversation around your brand. Focus on building long-term relationships.
  • Use blogger outreach organically and encourage these social influencers to be honest and open about their opinions so that they don’t feel forced to give a “good” review, but rather, their “own” review.
  • Use social media not only to distribute content but to build active communities and interact with and respond to your audiences.
  • Layer on social media measurement tools to find where users fall into your conversion funnels.
  • Leverage paid media on social channels.

Here are some of the responses that best summarized what we learned:

“Social Media is a channel that we continue to integrate into all aspects of a marketing campaign. We’ve seen tremendous results in various campaigns with social media channels that were well integrated from the beginning of a campaign. Blogger outreach is an effort that transcends marketing and enters the world of PR. Our social media efforts collaborate extensively to seek out major blog influencers and allow them an opportunity to test, review, and use our products from an unbiased standpoint.”

“We see blogger outreach as the opportunity to leverage influencers and connect with a new audience. We recognize that there are conversations happening in the blogosphere that are applicable to the brands we represent and we believe it’s valuable for our brands to join the discussion.”

“I would start off by saying that I believe in taking a different approach to social [media]. The word ‘incorporate’ makes me think that social is an afterthought for a lot of agencies and clients. Social is sprinkled-in to enhance a campaign or social activations are used to promote certain aspects of a campaign. I believe that social should be the backbone to campaigns. It all starts with listening to what your customers want. And they have never been as boisterous as they are on social platforms and blogs. Utilizing social listening tools is essential to finding out what drives a brand’s conversations.”

“We consider how social media would fit into any campaign, but it’s all based on what we’re trying to achieve. If communicating with our target makes sense via social platforms, then we dive in and figure out how best and where to reach them. We have worked with several brands where it made sense given the target, [such as certain types of] women (either health-conscious women for a January promotion, or moms dealing with changes for the back-to-school routine) – to reach out to them in places where they were already seeking this type of information. We found they were visiting blogs to get advice and tips from peers and experts, so we wanted our products to be included in those conversations.”

“We usually have the option to share an article and/or an entire custom unit on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Additionally, we are running a blogging placement that allows bloggers to engage, then blog about it amongst their peers.”

“Social media is the glue to the mass messages. We attempt to integrate all of our campaigns so the paid, owned and earned are all working together. We do this for all of our clients.”

We asked marketers: What are your top three DOs for social media? Here is just a sampling of the advice we received:

– Be a personality, not just a brand.

– Be responsive and quick.

– Recognize and reward your fans.

– Push for organic conversation.

– Pull content streams into ad units.

– Provide value to your audience.

– Do provide relevant content that isn’t always brand-specific.

– Do acknowledge all feedback regardless of the sentiment (negative or positive).

– Do remember that social platforms (and therefore the messaging you release on each) are different and shouldn’t be treated as one “social media” tactic.

– Do allow your consumers to join in the conversation.

– Do leverage paid media to amplify owned social programs.

– Do leverage custom messages that are tailored to the audience you are targeting.

– Always tell the truth – be transparent. Consumers will figure you out or call you out immediately if you don’t.

– Be on top of it. There’s no time to sit back, come up with a strategy to respond, then issue some statement, when the conversation is happening now, and if you’re not involved, it’s already slipping out of your control.

– Be human. It shouldn’t sound like a corporate drone is sitting at a computer cranking out rote statements. That completely defeats the purpose of communicating with your consumers. Make it real. Put a human face, emotion to your communication. And consumers will respond to that.

– Use it. You can’t make decisions if you don’t know what social media is and how it works.

– Do trust your employees to represent your brand in social media.

– Be thankful for negative feedback. It shows you what you need to change.

We also asked: “What are your top three DON’Ts for social media?” The majority of the responses came in along these lines:

– Don’t use social media as a direct marketing channel.

– Don’t pay for likes.

– Don’t believe that social media is free. Time is money. Social media takes time and strategy.

– Don’t open up a two-way conversation if you aren’t fully aware of the likely conversation flow.

– Once you’ve opened up a dialog, be ready to turn negatives into positives, but DON’T censor a participant who has a negative opinion.

– Don’t expect that social media = mass exposure with no investment.

– Don’t assume all social media is equal; users have as many ways of consuming social media as any other kind of media.

– Don’t put up posts if you can’t manage responding to pressing questions.

– Don’t expect all social activity to be positive in sentiment.

– Don’t lose track of your goals/measurements.

– Don’t try to reach the entire blogosphere. You want to hit key influencers and secure virality within specific communities first – ensure privacy and safety.

– Don’t let accounts be idle. Fresh content is necessary to provide relevancy to users interested in your brand. Do not create something if it’s not going to be updated and monitored.

– Don’t only pay attention to so-called influencers. People matter, and someone with five followers may be the loudest, most respected voice at his or her PTA meeting or church.

– Don’t take a checklist approach to social media, doing Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. because you think everyone’s doing it.

– Don’t throw your existing marketing into social channels and call it social marketing.

– Don’t sell out for quantity of followers/fans – gain quality people who want to engage.

– Don’t pelt followers/fans with information – be selective about what is shared/sent.

– Don’t stop communicating – keep messaging/contact consistent throughout the year, don’t go dark.

We asked: In the past year, what was the biggest change or the most significant development you saw in social media?

The most popular answers centered around a few major trends: brand strategy, blogging, the evolution of specific social media channels, advancements in mobile devices, developments in analytics, and the problem of information overload.

BRAND STRATEGY

“The biggest change is seeing social media being integrated into all aspects of marketing. Advertising (TV, Print, OOH), Digital (Microsites, Banners), Media buy (Facebook ads, Youtube video ads, etc.) all funneling and integrating with consumer feedback/relationship building.”

“Most brands seem to be less scared of the social media landscape than they previously were. Seeing other big brands get burned and survive has given them more confidence to allow users to provide comments and feedback in a public forum without the need to delete negative feedback (and instead respond to it).”

“The importance of social [media] to brands has shifted. Last year I worked on a major sponsorship for a large consumer tech company. Social activations were added to drive users to a digital presence after planning was done. This year planning began with social and ideas that could live on social networks. Clients are definitely starting to shift their ways of thinking. I love it.”

“The biggest change for us is that we now spend far less time selling brands on the point of social media. We spend far more time figuring out how to best use it to achieve brands’ unique objectives.”

“Rather than us having to persuade clients to dip their toe in the water, we had clients getting more aggressive about bringing up something they had heard about and asking if [they] should be there.”

“Now it’s about realizing that having an actual tactical strategy within the ‘social’ space is important – you can’t be all things in all networks and you have to choose and activate wisely and with purpose.”

BLOGGING

“I would have to say blogging and how it is being used has been the biggest development in social media. Individuals trust bloggers, especially those who are seen as influential. Blogging can either have a positive or negative effect on a campaign, brand or product. Individuals will make decisions based on comments made by their peers or by someone they feel confident in.”

“A trend towards more integrated advertising content, including sponsored posts. The subject material needs to suit the blog and be something the author would write about anyway. When the subject matter sounds forced or impersonal, it can actually turn an audience away from that blog and/or product.”

EVOLUTION OF SOCIAL MEDIA

“Consumers are more and more looking for brands on social networks and using it as a customer service platform.”

“The ability to filter the information you’re receiving.”

“One of the biggest changes in social media was broadening the scope of social into traditionally non-social environments. Allowing users to share and be social outside of social networks is a powerful tool and there have emerged some tactical tools for marketers to leverage that behavior (e.g., with ‘liking’ or video sharing).”

“There has been increased connectivity across the social media outlets. It is easy to sign in across multiple platforms, share across multiple platforms… even signing in on other platforms with Facebook has become a commonality.”

Some respondents pointed to developments in particular channels.

Google+

“Google+ is forcing other social media channels to innovate farther and faster.”

“Google+ seemed to be a flop. This really shed light on the importance of the Facebook format and the fact that not every opportunity is a good opportunity. This has led the industry as a whole to look at new opportunities with a careful eye, even if they are coming from a giant like Google.”

“Google’s 3rd attempt at Facebook with Google+…”

Facebook

“I think the biggest development has been the rise of Facebook from the development standpoint. Facebook has always been popular, but with the ease of access to developer APIs, the sort of content created and shared on Facebook has been growing at an astounding rate.”

“Sponsored stories in the Facebook marketplace.”

“Facebook is sending more traffic than they have in the past.”

“Opening of the Facebook API platform.”

“We see the majority of our campaigns driving to a brand’s Facebook page versus the brand’s website.”

“Fan growth! And the fact that all brands care about is acquiring fans… they’re not as interested in learning to communicate with the fans they currently possess.
The linking of Facebook profiles to music sites like Spotify is pretty impressive too. People can now connect over music interests much more easily.”

Pinterest

“Pinterest – at least in the world of design social media. We’ve been using Twitter and Facebook for a few years now and have gained 50,000 followers between the two. In using Pinterest in less than a year we’ve amassed nearly 500,000 followers. It’s been an amazing tool.”

Twitter

“The growth and influence of Twitter.”

“Twitter’s advertising model.”

“Users are using Twitter’s search to find more of our content.”

LinkedIn

“LinkedIn Today launched its content aggregation service at LinkedIn.com/today/ and it has been a major source of traffic.”

Other respondents pointed to more general developments.

Location

“Geo-location played a larger role with a lot of our clients this year.”

“The increased and more direct extension of social media into real-world, physical experiences. For example, location- and behavior-based check-ins and applications via platforms such as GetGlue, Go Miso and Facebook Places.”

Mobile

“Mobile devices as an additional source of blogging, tweeting and staying up-to-date on social media. Now you can access and publish information anywhere (on your commute, at work, in your home, etc.).”

“The largest change I’ve seen is the evolution of mobile/on-the-go social activities such as check-ins and mobile sharing.”

“The shift in prominent social presence from online to mobile.”

“The most significant development has been the role mobile plays in social media. It adds a new layer of opportunity and complexity when determining how to engage with our customers.”

Analytics

“The tracking that is now available. Measuring organic and paid traffic is a great change within the last year.”

“A deeper focus on measuring key business drivers beyond ‘engagement’ – it’s more important than ever to prove the value of social media through an impact to top line revenue.”

“The biggest change in social media is the evolving ability to track earned media via sharing functionalities/overlays available in all ‘social units’ such as viral video. This is truly important in helping us make social media more accountable in our media recommendations and identifying the lift of earned media across our campaigns.”

Overload

“Facebook screwed around with features so much that it turned a lot of people off. Google+ launched, as the shiny new object of the moment, leading to social media fatigue.”

“It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the flow of information. A lot of people seem to be overwhelmed – and that sometimes includes me.”

“Saturation of the marketplace. I don’t think it’s any particular technology.”

“Shouting one’s message over the glut of trash out there.”

We asked: In the coming year, what do you anticipate to be biggest change or the most significant development we will see in social media?

Fragmentation

“The advent of more ‘fragmented’ social platforms. While areas such as Facebook and Twitter will continue to serve as mass portals, there will be an increasing need and more options to supplement those experiences with ones that connect us more deeply with focused passions and networks.”

“As some audiences begin wandering from Facebook, I anticipate that there will be greater fragmentation across the sites where specific audiences prefer to spend their time. Yet another hurdle for advertisers.”

“I expect we will be seeing a growing trend of more private social media. Less ‘broadcast to everyone’ and more control over what and who you are sharing with, as we’ve started to see with Google+ and new Facebook features. I think people are growing sick of having the world know their business.”

“More fragmentation as people lose interest.”

Brand Strategy

“More media dollars will be allocated to social media efforts. This paid media will amplify all earned media.”

“Social media will act as a campaign leader, rather than a supporter. We will turn to social media first and support through other means.”

“Upward growth with our clients specifically – less expensive than other channels and more effective.”

“We will probably be using more social media in the upcoming quarters.”

“How do we tie everything that we’re doing together?”

“Marketers will be smarter about how to harness the power of social media.”

“There will not be a single corporation left on the planet that can deny the fact that social media is here to stay. We will stop having to do missionary work to educate corporate leaders. They will realize that there really is no such thing as message control. But then again, control was always an illusion.”

“I see more of the large companies gaining a bigger voice.”

Social Commerce

“Brands will create e-commerce tabs on their Facebook profile pages.”

“The continual rise and popularity of Social Commerce.”

“I think we will see brands driving to e-commerce through their social graph.”

“More commerce on Facebook and an evolution of ‘F’ commerce.”

Blogging

“More and more companies will start to use bloggers to talk about their products and brands.”

“I think it will vary for every sector of social media. You’ll probably see a continued trend of bloggers publishing books, particularly in the home and food categories of social media. People will also want to see a dose of reality in social media – see how they fit in to the content on a blog. I think social media, at its core, is about building relationships, and so while blogging is viewed as a legitimate form of media, I think people want to feel like they’re having an interaction with a company or author, rather than just being spoken at or marketed to through social media.”

Mobile

“Mobile – as mobile overtakes desktop usage we will see social media even more prominently ‘on the go.'”

“There will be a huge shift of social media usage coming from mobile devices. Within the next couple of years, most social media usage will happen via mobile. That means more rapid-fire updates, more photo sharing, more quick ‘liking’ and ‘favoriting,’ more location-based social gaming, and more people looking to use social media to provide deeper engagement with their physical worlds.”

“Mobile. We all have to adapt our campaigns and messages to match the vehicle our consumers are using.”

Video

“Click-to-play videos, measurement of cost per view. The growth of more options for better ways to watch commercials, the ability to sync many different social strategies into one overall synergy. Also, more and more lookalike modeling from a social standpoint.”

“More and deeper video integration – like Google Huddle.”

“Video’s increased role for small businesses entering social media.”

Analytics

“The biggest change to come in social media will be the ability to home in on relevant shared connections and measure actions across those connections, not just people who are sharing but how they are sharing and what is compelling them to share.”

“Data mined from social media will continue to be a key developing area for marketers. To go beyond simple cookie-tracked behavior but to also track users with higher social relevance (especially in various industries) will be helpful for marketers to make their marketing messages more impactful.”

“Increased trackability and defining of success metrics.”

Social Evolution

“Users will accept even less privacy.”

“Social media channels will be even more connected – known as global social brain.”

“Social media will continue to become less centralized and [more] integrated into everything. Media will soon mean social media – ‘social’ will be implied and assumed.”

“My assumption is the connectivity across all facets… Spotify will continue to grow, Timeline on Facebook, blogging and posting… all these outputs provide a way to put everything in order and make it accessible anywhere, and to anyone you want. Instant gratification will become the standard in terms of retail, sharing, connecting with friends/family.”

“Consolidation: marrying up of many social media updating tools, analytics packages, and more companies priding themselves as the best social media site or network.”

“Continued heightened privacy concerns and more integration with print and TV (hashtags/QR codes).”

“Social CRM.”

“Better advertising opportunities that are more seamlessly integrated into the actual social space.”

“Increased effectiveness of each campaign without disturbing the flow of the social network.”

Music

“Music platforms. 100%. It’s the new radio, it’s the new way to see what your fans like, what their tastes are, who to attach yourself to.”

“The music space is ever changing. Pandora has been around for a while now, and with the likes of MOG, Spotify, Grooveshark, and Slacker the space has the opportunity to define itself in the social media sphere. Spotify is the first on the radar, and I think Pandora is trying. I hope social media allows these music services to define themselves and take the business to the next generation of innovation.”

Twitter

“The emergence of Twitter as a platform for advertisers.”

“I anticipate advertising spending on Twitter to increase significantly.”

“Games on Twitter.”

Location

“I think location-based functionality will be elevated. The way users and advertisers choose to embrace Locations will set the stage for how everyone uses it in the future.”

“Location will continue to emerge on every platform, not just on the check-in services.”

“The continued growth of Tumblr. QR codes continue to evolve and provide a more sophisticated, holistic social/mobile experience. SoMoLo will grow in consumer relevance and in business focus.”

Facebook

“I believe the changes Facebook announced at F8 were game changers. The most compelling social campaigns we’ll see this year will surround how people interact with brands through apps. And how these stories on Facebook translate into engagement and then ultimately revenue. How to track these results will be essential to growing in our segment.”

“Integrations with Facebook. For instance, the new iOS Apple platform is making leaps and bounds by integrating Facebook and other social media extensions.”

“I think Facebook is going to get a backlash for making their interface too complicated.”

“Going back to Facebook… I think the advent of the new timeline will force a lot of other companies to consider the layout and dissemination of their content at the user level. Previously, most systems were designed and developed from an enterprise standpoint, but it’s becoming a larger consideration to determine what the most effective options are for enriching the individual user’s experience.”

Google+

“If Google+ can gain traction in the marketplace, I think they could really widen the marketplace. Otherwise, I think we’ll see Facebook continue to innovate and create new products and ways to reach consumers.”

“Google+ reaches the critical mass to beat Facebook head to head.”

LinkedIn

“I think LinkedIn will chill out and let more APIs integrate. Would love to see some cool new apps there.”

ACTIVE BLOGGING

According to Technorati’s index, a minority of bloggers are posting daily, or even weekly. Further, the Technorati index skews to more active bloggers – presumably they have listed their blog with Technorati because they are actively creating content and want others to find it. Active blogging is clearly rewarded. When looking at average posts per month and per day by Technorati Authority, bloggers in the Top 100 generate 36 times more content than the average blogger. We also see a higher use of tags as part of their arsenal of strategies to bring audiences to their content, with 92% of the Top 100 bloggers using tags.

The top 30 tags used in 2011 are:

News

Business

Politics

Entertainment

Video

Sports

Music

Movies

Blog

Technology

Fashion

Reviews

Health

Apple

Art

Software

Business

World

Travel

Education

Facebook

iPhone

Home

TV

Marketing

Google

Media

Internet

Gadgets

Android

 

BLOGGING TECHNOLOGY

Most respondents’ blogs are individual blogs. Blogging Collectives are most common among Corporate bloggers, where they account for 35%.

WordPress is the most popular blog hosting service among all respondents, used by 51%. Blogger and Blogspot hosting services are also popular (21% and 14%).

Nearly 90% of bloggers are using some form of multimedia on their blogs, the most popular form being photos. Half of all bloggers surveyed use video on their blog, while another 10% use audio.

Of those using multimedia, slightly more create these assets themselves than repurpose them from other sites.


Among respondents who create assets, 48% of the multimedia they post is their own creation. This is down significantly from 67% in 2010.

Particular blogging tools are very widespread among bloggers, especially built-in syndication (75%) and social sharing widgets (75%), as well as site search (58%). Among bloggers who use built-in syndication, the majority (76%) support full content.

87% of respondents either moderate comments or respond individually to comments. Corporate bloggers are the least likely to respond individually.

Professional Full Timers have seen the most impact from the adoption of tablets and smartphones, with almost a third (32%) indicating their blogging style has changed.

Those impacted by tablets and smartphones indicate they are using photos and images (45%) more often and writing shorter posts (43%).

TRAFFIC AND ANALYTICS

Bloggers continue to pay close attention to their readership: 65% use a third-party service to track their blog’s traffic. Across bloggers, Google Analytics is by far the most popular service.

Professional bloggers receive the most views, with over half of the blogs viewed more than 10,000 times per month. 58% of bloggers using third-party analytics receive fewer than 5,000 page views per month.

Professional bloggers receive the most unique visitors per month, with more than a third having over 10,000 unique visitors.

 

MONETIZATION / REVENUE GENERATION

Of the 14% of bloggers who earn a salary for blogging, the average annual amount is $24,086. Corporate bloggers earn more, averaging $33,577 per year.

Most are not paid per post, but half of those who are earned less than $25 per post on average.

About half of all bloggers paid by the post earn less than $1,000 per year from per-post fees.

Display ads, affiliate marketing links, and search ads are the most common ways bloggers generate revenue from their blogs. 60% of Corporate bloggers said they do not have any advertising on their blog.

Our screening requirements for Professional Full-Timers is self-stated from the answer option “I am an independent blogger and consider it my full-time job.” While they may consider blogging their full-time job, that does not necessarily mean that they earn revenue. These respondents may be similar to “start-up stage” companies that often work to establish a base without pay for at least a period of time. Last year, 53% of self-employed and 30% of Professional Part-Timers said they didn’t earn revenue (the percentage of Pro Part-Timers not earning revenue is down to 8% this year – most likely a sign of an improving economy and growing interest in bloggers by marketers.

Most blog-related revenue is generated through giving speeches on blogging topics and advertising.

Bloggers invest the most money in their own blogging salary.

Among those who do not have advertising on their blogs, 52% say they do not have advertising because they don’t want their blogs to be cluttered with ads, while 38% said they don’t have enough visitors to make it worthwhile. Another 36% are not interested in making money on their blog.

Among those with advertising on their blog, 60% use self-serve tools, while 50% have affiliate advertising links on their site.

Among bloggers with advertising, close to half allow rich media and paid posting. Few allow interstitials and pop-ups.

 

THE TOP BLOGS AND POSTS OF 2011

And finally, who in the blogosphere came out on top in 2011? What blogs had the biggest gains? What articles received the most attention and had the most influence?

The Top Rising Blogs of 2011

Blogs rise and fall every day, but these blogs made the largest gains in Technorati Authority in 2011.

Note: Technorati Authority and Rank can change as often as every day, so ranks may have shifted since data publication.

Top Rising Blogs of 2011 Old Rank New Rank Change
Netflix blog 4194 137 4057
Blogspot Analytics 2791 186 2605
The Loop 814 189 625
Daring Fireball 541 129 412
AnandTech 561 159 402
Blogcritics 436 181 255
The Windows Blog 393 141 252
LA Times Entertainment News 352 113 239
JammieWearingFool 362 160 202
Village Voice – Runnin’ Scared 265 80 185
InQuisitr 360 186 174
Breitbart 320 150 170
Flavorwire 302 141 161
Big Journalism 299 141 158
Android Police 265 115 150
EuroGamer 238 92 146
National Journal – Hotline On Call 331 191 140
Wired – Danger Room 186 52 134
The Onion 215 82 133
MacRumors 186 67 119
Naked Capitalism 224 106 118
PopSugar 273 163 110
Right Wing Watch 306 197 109
Wired – Epicenter 238 137 101
Stereogum 278 180 98
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire 243 145 98
New York Times – Economix 211 120 91
Ubergizmo 200 113 87
Reason – Hit & Run 194 108 86
New York Times – City Room 109 29 80
Truthdig 231 155 76
Rap-Up 270 197 73
PSFK 270 197 73
Zero Hedge 125 55 70
New York Magazine – Daily Intel 101 31 70
New York Times – Media Decoder 146 77 69
Infowars – Moneybomb 190 124 66
MetaFilter 218 157 61
Gizmag 235 174 61
Big Government 114 54 60
Daily Kos 110 52 58
Cinema Blend 218 160 58
Apple Insider 127 69 58
Los Angeles Times – L.A. Now 98 41 57
Laughing Squid 114 59 55
This Isn’t Happiness 145 92 53
Wired – Wired Science 247 194 53
Cato @ Liberty 247 194 53
New York Magazine – The Cut 224 174 50
Phandroid 186 137 49

 

METHODOLOGY

Blogger Survey

Penn Schoen Berland conducted an Internet survey from September 13-October 4, 2011 among 4,114 bloggers around the world. The margin of error is +/- 1.4% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups. The following audiences are included throughout this report:

 

  • All: Entire sample of bloggers
  • 2010 Respondents: Entire sample of bloggers surveyed September 21-October 8, 2010
    • N=7,205 / MoE= +/- 1.2
  • Blogger Audiences
    • Hobbyists (61%)
      • N=2501 / MoE= +/- 1.8
      • Currently report no income from their blog
    • Professional Part-Timers (13%)
      • N=529 / MoE= +/- 4.2
      • Receive compensation for their blogging, but do not consider it their full time job
    • Professional Full-Timers (5%)
      • N=222/ MoE= +/- 6.6
      • Independent blogger and consider it full time job
    • Corporates (8%)
      • N=336 / MoE= +/-5.3
      • Blog for company or organization
    • Entrepreneurs (13%)
      • N=526 / MoE= +/- 4.2
      • Blog for their own company or organization

Consumer Survey

Respondents were recruited by Crowd Science across the Technorati Media network. Randomly selected network site visitors over the age of 18 participated in the survey. Data collection took place from September 1 to October 26, 2011. A total of 1,231 respondents took part in the survey.

Technorati Index Data

Technorati collected blog and post data from the Technorati search index. Technorati Authority is Technorati’s measurement of a blog’s standing and influence in the blogosphere.

We use technology and real-time market insights to optimize digital advertising interactions across an expanding high-quality publisher network.