“Biggest reach isn’t always the best choice”

The blogosphere is maturing, but blogs are far from dead. That’s the message of Joakim Nyström from Swedish agency Bloggbyrån. He has created a model for identifying driving forces in blogs and characterised 12 different types of blogs. We had a chat with him.

Hi Joakim. Tell our readers a bit about you.
I’m Joakim Nyström, developer and designer at Bloggbyrån, a Sweden-based digital PR agency. I’m also involved in the strategic work. We help our customers in making decisions on how to engage with social media.

A developer and designer that also works with strategy…
Hehe yes I have quite a broad background. When we started Bloggbyrån me and my fellow colleagues jointly developed the strategies for our first clients, and somehow I kept working with that. But since I also have the coding skills it would be a shame not use them right?! 🙂

With the name Bloggbyrån you emphasize your focus on the blogosphere. How is this reflected in your day-to-day work?
Well, we help companies to spread buzz about issues or products and to raise opinions. We do that by building long term relationships with bloggers. Basically, we are friends with bloggers – much more than most companies. Which is why they come to us when they want to connect with bloggers.

Bloggers can be a challenge to handle, since they usually are very outspoken and not shy on publishing criticism. How do you make sure you keep your good relations with them while helping your clients to reach their (commercial) goals?
By respecting bloggers and educating our clients on how to interact with bloggers and what to avoid. We teach companies on ethical and social rules that are consensus in the blogosphere. We are a bit like a friendly host at a party who introduces people to each other.

Do you get the impression that in 2012, most companies feel confident when dealing with social media?
It varies, but usually there are at least a few people within each organisation that have the required skills and experience.

Some people claim that blogs are dying. What’s your take on that?
The blogosphere is maturing rather than dying. Early on we saw an explosion of blogs because we didn’t have the big social networks to connect and interact. Nowadays, bloggers are more focused and more professional. They might publish less blog posts but when they do, they work harder with that content and their relations. The link recommendations and quick thoughts are being published via Facebook and Twitter. All the ideas and input from those channels is then being transformed into blog posts, often in a well thought-through way. Less quantity but more quality. I think that’s a great trend.

Are blogs underestimated?
Maybe. The good thing with blogs is that you can focus more on long tail content. Blog posts are more permanent than the content posted on social networks, and companies are realising that.

You came up with a model that you call „blog compass“. What’s up with that?
One of the biggest challenges for companies is to figure out which blog is useful in which situation. I tried to develop an abstract model to identify driving forces in blogs. I found three main forces where one is usually more dominant than the other two: awareness/fame, connectivity, niche. Furthermore, I characterised 12 different blog types. You can have a look at the blog compass here.

Would the blog compass have looked differently a few years ago?
There was less connectivity I guess, but now the networks have exploded and blogs and bloggers are using different platforms to connect with each other and with the audience. In the past there was more focus on awareness and niche.

Where would you put the big US tech blogs or The Huffington Post?
I would put them somewhere in between awareness and niche. They are more like educating blogs, more like business media or newspapers. Information that we can benefit from but which perhaps is not always the most entertaining to read.

How do you use the model internally?
We use it as part of our argumentation towards the clients about why we are turning to a specific blog or why we use a specific strategy. Biggest reach isn’t always the best choice. Better is to find a niche, to build better relationships and to find a more engaged crowd. It’s recommended to look at the different types of capital that can be gained during the interaction with blogs: awareness, social capital and knowledge capital. The blog compass helps to understand that and to figure out which blogs to approach.

Are there companies that you wouldn’t recommend to reach out to the blogosphere?
Yes, companies that have dirt to hide should first clean that up. We usually tell our clients that we can direct attention but we can’t take responsibility about how people react.

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