There’s yet another Top (insert some blogging metric here) list out this week and this time it’s Techcrunch with its Top 100 tech bloggers list based on headlines in Techmeme, which Mathew Ingram has described as ‘trolling for links’ on a slow weekend. There are plenty of other top blogs lists out there and everyone has their own metrics on how to measure a blog and/or blogger’s popularity.
Some like Alexa use the same metrics to measure social media like page views and traffic rankings, which are used to measure the popularity of static websites. Rating Burner relies on number of RSS subscribers to compile its list of popular blogs, which isn’t all that different from traditional media, which uses viewership or circulation numbers to measure a network’s or print media popularity.
Technorati has its own set of metrics – ‘authority’ and ‘ranking’. Technorati Authority refers to the number of blogs linking to your website in the last six months, while Ranking is based on how far your blog is from the top. I think Technorati’s methodology stays true to the spirit of ‘fractured conversations’, which in essence is what blogging is all about.
The recent discussion on the loss of control (and revenue) to content creators, highlights the critical often-overlooked question which is – how can bloggers monetize their content across the gazillion new social aggegators that are cropping up everyday, especially ones like Friendfeed? If blogging is all about ‘conversations’ and engaging the audience, how can a blogger track (and monetize) those ‘conversations’ when they are happening unbeknown to the blogger on a different platform?
This where I think the popularity metrics propogated by social media tools are sorely lacking. It’s still unclear how valuable are Stumbles or Diggs to a blogger’s revenue-generating potential. I mean, what impact do ‘Like’ or comments through Friendfeed have on a professional blogger’s ability to attract advertisers? There’s no easy aggregation of social ‘popularity’ metrics and that’s a huge gaping hole that the social sites and feed aggregators need to fix.
Blogging and social media in general, needs its own set of metrics and new social media tools should provide analytic support to capture those metrics within and across various platforms. I don’t think mega-blog sites like Techcrunch or GigaOM (which are eerily similar to traditional news media) have any cause to worry but the smaller professional bloggers could benefit from some much-needed changes. Especially, if the conversations they spark around the Internet are a true measure of their influence in the blogosphere.