What Does Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere Report Mean for Education Bloggers?

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:

  1. Blog content will continue to play an important role in driving conversations in all fields.
  2. 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. 

9 thoughts on “What Does Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere Report Mean for Education Bloggers?

  1. Marsha Ratzel

    Bill,
    Thanks for giving us the lowdown on this….it came via my Google Reader. I’m still working on getting into the Twitter flow…I just have to manage so much that I don’t know how to get Twitter into the mix.
    I also find myself split between writing post content for my class blog that I do with my students and my own professional reflection blog. I just don’t find the time to do both.
    But reading this makes me re-evaluate…maybe I should learn to shorten my thoughts and I could do both.
    Thanks again for the thinking points.
    marsha

  2. Amanda Brewton

    Hi, Mr. Ferriter! My name is Amanda Brewton, and I’m a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. The numbers presented in this post are really astounding! I had no idea that people spent that much time using social media outlets, like blogging. Sometimes, I can’t even imagine someone being on the internet that often. I suppose it shouldn’t be too unbelievable, considering the time we’re living in now. I think it’s great that you see your blog as a way to make yourself heard, form connections, and share information.

  3. Bill Ferriter

    Angelica wrote:
    I have had the chance to read lots of other peoples blogs and some times I just get overwhelmed.
    Here’s the key, Angelica: Be heartless!
    I know…that’s strange advice for a guy who’s a teacher, right?
    But what gets educators—who are some of the most compassionate people on earth—-in trouble is feeling like they’ve got to read every post written by every person that they follow.
    When you take that approach, you’re bound to get overwhelmed.
    Instead, set time aside to read one or two posts per day or week. Then, find the writers whose content resonates with you and focus on their work.
    Doing so makes learning managable again in a world where there are so many people—and places—to learn from.
    Any of this make sense?
    Bill

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Hey all y’all…
    Thanks for stopping by. Glad that this post resonated with you—and it’s neat to see how you all ended up here.
    I’m actually thinking it would be cool to do a survey of Radical Nation and see how they prefer to find new entries—whether it’s on my blog or not.
    I know for me, feed readers—Pageflakes was always my favorite—were the most important tool in my digital arsenal a few years back, but with more and more people that I want to learn from using Twitter to promote their blogs, I haven’t logged in to Pageflakes in months.
    Essentially, Twitter has become my RSS reader, and I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.
    I still use Pageflakes, but it’s to monitor changes to classroom projects—contributions to conversations or changes to classroom wiki pages.
    How about y’all….have your content consumption patterns changed?
    And if so, what does that mean for those of us who have always judged the authority of a blog by the number of subscribers that it has?
    Bill

  5. Angelica Scott

    Mr.Ferriter
    My name is Angelica Scott and I am a student at the University of South Alabama taken EDM with Dr.Strange. I I like your post on blogging. I am a new blogger and didn’t even know what blogging was. I have had the chance to read lots of other peoples blogs and some times I just get overwhelmed. I liked the way you broke down each key concept, it made it a lot easier to understand. I spend a lot of time on my blog and at first just saw it as another class with a lot of work but I have really enjoyed it and plan on using a blog when I start teaching.
    Angelicas’Blog

  6. Charlie A. Roy

    @ Bill
    Thanks for summarizing the key concepts from the annual report. Still arrived via google reader. Most new blogs I find and begin to follow seem to come through twitter for me anyway.

  7. Rpnorton

    Thanks for this – your observations mirror my own, i.e., that I have to post shorter items, more frequently, to stay relevant. I’m loving Twitter these days and in fact arrived here (though I’ve visited before) via a tweet by @CohenD.

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