As a guy who has worked for years to push and shove my way into important conversations about the changing nature of teaching and learning in America, my blog is incredibly important to me.
It’s the best way to raise my voice and to stand on equal footing with the Oprahs and Bill Gateses of the world, who have huge media conglomerates to turn to whenever they want to push a new idea.
Because I care so much about blogging as a tool for elevating my voice, one resource that I always love to explore is Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report, which has been published every year since 2004.
I always seem to spot interesting trends that can help me to better understand my own place in the blogging world and to understand exactly who my audiences are.
This year’s report was no different.
Here’s a few interesting findings that caught my eye—and that might be valuable to other education bloggers trying to build their audiences and to spread their influence:
Almost half of all content consumers surveyed by Technorati trust traditional media sources less than they did five years ago.
That’s great news for bloggers, isn’t it? While the general cynicism that Americans hold towards political organizations, media outlets, and elected officials is a source of real concern for me, it also means that more and more readers are turning to blogs for news and opinions.
Equally interesting is the fact that almost 50% of content consumers surveyed by Technorati trust the content that they’re finding on blogs—a number that rivals the 60% of content consumers who trust the content they find in print newspapers, television broadcasts and radio programming.
That means education bloggers have real potential to shape important conversations about teaching and learning. While we may never have the budgets that major media players have, public opinion is growing more and more skeptical of the content shared by distant conglomerates run by billionaires.
With smartphones sitting in more pockets and purses than ever, mobile blogging is becoming more and more popular.
In fact, 25% of the bloggers surveyed for this year’s Technorati report are already posting from mobile devices—a trend that results in shorter and more frequent entries.
What’s more, smartphone users are also becoming increasingly important content consumers. Take my blog, for example. While only a small fraction of my October visitors---650 out of 8,000---were working from their smartphones, that was a 70% monthly increase over September’s visitors.
For bloggers like me—who tend to shoot for longer entries a few times a week—that means our posts may look out of place compared to the content spreading its way across the blogosphere.
And while I love longer entries—blogging is as much about reflection for me as it is about reaching audiences—I worry that if I don’t make a few changes in my posting patterns, my readers may turn away from my content simply because it doesn’t fit with their consumption patterns.
60% of all bloggers surveyed spend between 1 and 3 hours per week working on their blogs—and the average blogger posts new content to their site 2-3 times per week.
What caught my eye about this statistic—which is a fair reflection of the amount of time that I spend working on the Tempered Radical—is the fact that 40% of all bloggers surveyed are spending more than 3 hours per week working on their blogs!
Another interesting trend is that post frequency is rewarded in higher levels of authority in the blogosphere.
In fact, while one new post a month is the average added by all of the bloggers tracked by Technorati, the top 100 bloggers average an almost astonishing 500 posts per month, the top 500 bloggers add almost 200 new posts per month and the top 5,000 bloggers write 86 entries per month.
If those kinds of trends continue—or start to find their way into the edusphere—that can only mean two things:
- Blog content will continue to play an important role in driving conversations in all fields.
- My own content could be drowned out, lost in the sea of posts being published by writers who are investing more time than I am in their blogs.
While I’m not overly-concerned about the time invested or new posts written by other bloggers simply because I write primarily for my own learning and growth, if I want to be influential, I may have to think about investing more time into the work that I’m doing here online.
The lines are blurring between the blogosphere and social media spaces like Facebook and Twitter:
When I first started blogging, the Tempered Radical was the primary driver of social conversations and thinking in my life. I’d write here and listen to the reactions of my readers in the comment section. While I had a Facebook page, I saw the network of learners that I shared my blog with as a different community than my Facebook friends.
As a result, I did little to bring the two groups together.
Today, I see my blog as a place to extend conversations that I’m having in social media spaces. I spend a ton of time every day interacting with peers in Twitter. Thoughts and resources shared there often become the impetus for longer reflections that I post here—and that I turn around and share links to back in Twitter.
There’s almost a symbiotic relationship between my blog and my participation in social media spaces—and that’s a pattern followed by most of the bloggers in Technorati’s 2010 survey.
Need proof? Consider these statistics:
- 47% of all bloggers are using Twitter—and 64% are using Facebook—to interact with readers of their blogs.
- 62% of all bloggers are using Twitter—and 51% are using Facebook—to bring interesting links to light.
- 72% of all bloggers are using Twitter—and 81% are using Facebook—to promote entries on their blogs.
For education bloggers interested in growing their audiences and in gaining additional influence, that means participation in social media spaces can be an effective tool for learning—about relevant topics for new entries and about the interests and habits of their audiences—and for driving traffic to their entries.
Looking at my own blog’s statistics, participating in Twitter has had a direct impact on my page views. In fact Twitter—falling behind only Google and Feedburner—is currently the third most important traffic source for my blog.
More importantly, visitors from Twitter spend over 30% more time on my blog than visitors who find me through Google and Feedburner, a statistic that makes sense considering that visitors from Twitter are more likely to be professional colleagues that I’ve built digital relationships with over time.
Bloggers spend more time interacting in social media spaces than the average American.
The bloggers surveyed by Technorati report spending 9.9 hours per week interacting in social media spaces, a number nearly twice that spent by the average American.
For education bloggers interested in growing their audiences and in extending their influence, that means building a social media presence is even more essential.
By interacting with other bloggers in social media spaces, my posts are more likely to be discovered and shared. Other bloggers spot my entries and share them with their audiences. They also respond to things that I’ve written on their own blogs, drawing still more attention to my content.
And—as I’ve already mentioned—by sharing my own posts in social media spaces, I’m able to easily market my content and drive traffic to my writing.
While Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report isn’t focused on educators alone, I still believe that it carries valuable lessons for those of us who want to elevate our voices into important conversations about teaching and learning in America.