Sunday, June 5, 2011

Behind Shaq's Social Media Presence

Shaq's recent retirement predictably led to huge amounts of social media content on sites like Twitter, but it wasn't only due to his fame and popularity -- he used a new social network called Tout to spread the word. (See how Shaq broke the news initially.)


While Shaq is one of the most involved and successful athletes on social media, the Big Tweeter had some help from Amy Jo Martin of Digital Royalty. Check out the video below to learn more about Shaq's social media origins.

"It is all about engagement but providing value when, where and how your audience wants to receive it." - Amy Jo Martin


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gameify Your Blog

This post is an adaptation of my upcoming post to the CampusLIVE blog, YouEngage. Look for it and other posts on engagement marketing there as we overhaul the entire blog.


The following post is inspired by the BlogWorld and New Media Expo info session “Game Mechanics and the Future of Loyalty”.

The panel was moderated by Jason Keath and featured Mike Schneider, Chris Pirillo, and David Tyler.

Picture this: you post a podcast to your blog, urging readers to listen.

A fan of the blog and lover of audio, Steve Sportsfan decides to start your podcast and finds…minutes upon minutes of analysis and opining and no discernible end to the rant.

Even the most loyal reader would be tempted to throw their hands up and exit the podcast without knowing exactly how long they have until the end. They're busy, and they need to fit your blog into their day along with hundreds of other activities. 



When the frustrated listener leaves the podcast, you (the blogger) lose on three fronts

  1. You fail to extend your audience on a consistent basis.
  2. You frustrate loyal readers.
  3. You fail to tap into the network of social media followers of each listener who bounces.
Now, as you're well aware, no (successful) podcast lacks the progress bar along the bottom. It's a useful tool to skip around, but it's also a "game mechanic" in place to help you stick it out until the end.


This is just one small example of a marketing tactic that's been gaining steam of late: employing "game mechanics", or features that turn a non-game into a game. For example: simply adding a status bar to a podcast (or survey, or profile set-up) lets the user know just how close they are to finishing and drives more people to completion. 


(The same type of status bar can be found on LinkedIn to let you know how many steps are left in your profile set-up or on CampusLIVE to promote a sense of urgency and exclusivity for students joining branded challenges.)

Adding the status bar, an act so simple yet so compelling to users, can be considered the "gameification" of the user experience.


Gameification (not to be confused with actual games like Farmville or Super Mario) is the concept of using game mechanics (status bars, badges, leaderboards, checkpoints and much, much more) to transform an otherwise straightforward experience into something incredibly motivating and enjoyable for the consumer. Without creating Halo-quality games, marketers and bloggers achieve a similar goal: extending loyalty, improving time on site and providing a great user experience.

Comparing your total number of friends on Facebook? Gameification at work.

Group-buying status bars and “tipping points”? Gameification.

Badges, mayorships, point systems, leaderboards…even that paper card from the local ice cream shop that gets you a free cone after 10 stamps? Yep - gameification.

Game mechanics is by no means a new idea, but they're now being embraced by marketers in our exploding world of digital content and user fragmentation.

A recent study unearthed that online users have the attention span of goldfish - nine seconds. So unless you're willing to try your readers' patience, you’re tasked with engaging them in just a few seconds. You need to be compelling right out of the gate.



This is something that's tough to master, too. By no means do I feel like I'm a minor leaguer at this...let alone a pro. But savvy site owners are turning to game mechanics.
How about you? What are some other tactics you use to keep your blog engaging?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BlogWorld and New Media Expo

I'm at the Expo over the next couple days! Look for some updates that will summarize to a degree but mainly advise you on how to make your blog and your digital approach better each day.




For now:
Site: http://www.blogworldexpo.com/
Expo Twitter tag: #BWENY
Blog: http://www.blogworldexpo.com/2011-nyc/blog/



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In "Online Pickup", Bloggers Need to Separate Selves

Few things in life give a basketball player more of a release and more joy than pickup basketball. But for every great run and competitive game, another is ruined by that guy in jeans and boots who thinks his crossover is God's gift to hoops. (If you don't know that guy...you are that guy, and I invite you on behalf of all players in the world to twist an ankle.)


I recently used this argument to defend the industry I know and love. When a couple friends who know BDL well believe, sports bloggers are often brushed aside or viewed as "trashy" compared to more mainstream media. I quickly pointed out that "mainstream" now includes bloggers in a big way, but their objection to sports bloggers remained, drawn from some irrational beliefs:

"Sports bloggers are all terrible writers."

"Sports bloggers just repurpose news from ESPN."

"Sports bloggers rant and rave but have no real points to make."

My response was this: it's unfair to write off a basketball court for pickup because of one or two garbage players.

Don't misunderstand: I realize it's very easy for those on the sidelines to take the stance of my friends. Pickup lets amateurs participate in a game otherwise reserved for organized teams or professionals. Unwritten rules created by the players preserve some semblance of order, while each individual plays under an honor system, responsible for calling foul when he or she thinks it appropriate. 


And that doesn't always work out so well. As soon as one loud, obnoxious, over-confident bozo wearing jeans and boots tries to call next, many people walk away.

It's those "jeans and boots" bloggers that tarnish the credibility of the bloggers that take time to work on their craft, lace up some fresh new posts and actually do justice to their industry.

It's those very same "jeans and boots" bloggers that are terrible writers, repurpose ESPN, and rant and rave without any real points to make.

As a basketball fan and former player, I've walked into enough pickup games to know that the players jacking shots off the side of the backboard or bragging about a cross-over would break The Answer are hard to tolerate.

But there's plenty of great basketball being played, and plenty of great blogging being done every day. 
In this giant, online pickup game, I argued to my friends, it's tempting but ultimately incorrect to let the jeans and boots distract you from the more talented players.

I therefore challenge readers to look beyond them and bloggers to not tolerate those "jeans and boots" blogs in this, our beautiful game, our beautiful industry of sports blogging.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Kate Conroy (Lady Loves Pinstripes)

Whenever possible, I'll be posting Q&A with sports bloggers. The goal is to get to know the players in the industry and celebrate those dominating their niche online. Interested? Email or @ mention me.



Kate Conroy finds the competition inherent in her industry downright sexy. She runs the Yankees fan blog, Lady Loves Pinstripes, and if the name isn't a dead giveaway, she (clearly) loves one team above all others: the Camden Riversharks.

In truth, this lady loves her some New York Yankees and blogging about the boys from the Bronx. (But in an ironic twist, she doesn't love writing! Read below to find out more on that.)

Kate can be reached via email or on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Growth of Sports Bloggers, A Visual

Few things speak to the truth better than data. As a sports fan, you're likely experiencing this more than ever with advanced statistics. (Sabermetrics and MIT Sloan's Sports Analytics Conference both come to mind.)

Personally, I'm a qualitative person over quantitative. I prefer stories to numbers. But working at Google, it's hard to ignore data in a place so in love with it. One thing I've learned here: data can be your friend if used properly, helping you tell a story and prove a point.

Here's some data that should make you feel great about the direction of the sports blogosphere, courtesy of Google's Insights for Search. (For those new to digital media and Search as an industry, very little is static or consistent, and the important things to examine are trends rather than consistent directions or data points.)



Search is an indicator of demand and interest. Someone searching for "shoes" likely wants to buy or at very least learn about shoes. More searches year-to-year on "coupons" shows a growing interest in saving money. The climbing number of searches for "sports blog" indicates that the industry has grown in recognition, media coverage and value to online readers.

A few key news events are highlighted in 2010 above that help shape the trends we're seeing. These might be events directly relating to sports blogging or topics and stories that were widely covered among blogs, causing a spike in searches. It looks like the news items are limited to sources that share this info with Google, but just to call out a few:

A. Dez Bryant Stuck with $54K Dinner Bill


D. LeBron James's Lawyer Labels as "Lies" Sex Scandal Rumors Surrounding Mom; Warns Sports Blog to Knock It Off


E. Lil Wayne Kicks off Sports Blog


What else? What news events have you seen take the blogosphere by storm?

Friday, May 6, 2011

5 Similarities between Sports Bloggers and the Memphis Grizzlies

The Cinderella Story

Unless you live under a rock (which somehow has wifi so you could read this blog), you've seen the Memphis Grizzlies come out of seemingly nowhere to take the NBA Playoffs by storm. And lest you write them off as a feel-good team that just got lucky, I'm here to tell you that there are very real parallels between their story this season and that of sports bloggers early on that you should take to heart:

  • Noticed but brushed aside. No one entirely ignored the Grizzlies during the regular season. They made some noise and fought hard for some big wins (the Rudy Gay buzzer beater over Miami in November; splitting the season series 2-2 with the Lakers). But most of the attention was paid to the established, sexier teams (Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Spurs).
  • The surprise that never should have been. When suddenly the Grizzlies made the playoffs and upset the Spurs, people started paying attention. Had anyone looked hard at the team and its roster all season, they could have seen signs that this was possible.

Crunch Time

Now that we're in the playoffs and bloggers are finally being taken seriously, there are still upsets to pull for both the Grizzlies and all you fans out there hoping to create a niche for your site.

The areas where Memphis excels are the very same that you can focus on to start killing it with your blog:

Athleticism: The Griz are more nimble than others. They out-jumped, out-sprinted and out-defended the Spurs using youthful athleticism and energy. Bloggers are more nimble than lots of print journalists who have yet to embrace new media (though that number is dwindling -- a good sign for new media enthusiasts, since journalists clearly now realize the value).

Online, athleticism means being nimble, flexible and skilled in a diverse way. Tools like Twitter and site analytics let you post quickly and adapt your site based on users navigating to, from and throughout your site, while being able to use multiple media (text, image, video) keeps you a destination site for readers.

Underdog Mentality/Togetherness: Memphis is the 8th seed to outsiders only. To them, they're the best team out there, and they play like it. They use that "us against them" mentality to their advantage, banding together and feeding off each other. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen provide the irrational, slightly unwarranted confidence, but that's greatly needed. Marc Gasol was a throw-in and Mike Conley a role player paid the big bucks to run point, but both are blossoming. And sure, you have the players who think they're better than they actually are (O.J. Mayo), but all in all, the Grizzlies win because of that mentality and togetherness.

Bloggers need each others' links and suggestions, as well as guest posts, retweets and general support. When no one else seems to be reading, rest assured that other fan bloggers are in the same boat. Still others have improved readership and content quality and can teach the rest of the community.

Hustle, Hustle and more Hustle: The Grizzlies flat out play harder than other teams. Lionel Hollins has them busting their butts every night. Similarly, bloggers just need to give a crap. They need to try! They aren't going to be able to post once a month and expect readers, nor can they waltz up to Madison Square Garden and get in by flashing their blog URL. They don't have all the resources or all the benefits of a well-known brand...so they need to out-hustle them.

Who from the NBA do you most associate with your blog and your style?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Aaron Torres (AaronTorres-Sports.com)

Whenever possible, I'll be posting Q&A with sports bloggers. The goal is to get to know the players in the industry and celebrate those dominating their niche online. Interested? Email or @ mention me.




CT's finest, Aaron Torres, pens the general sports blog AaronTorres-Sports.com and hosts his own podcast, where he can be found equating college football to The Departed and Bill Walton to the Most Interesting Man in the World. Guests have included media members from Yahoo!, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated.


He recently defended all sports bloggers -- you should thank him on Twitter!


He reps a pass-through state, but Aaron's here to stay. Let's find out why...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ESPN's Bill Simmons to Launch Grantland

Today on ESPN's PR site, MediaZoneGrantland.com -- Conceived by ESPN's Bill Simmons -- to Launch in June.


You can read more about the announcement via the first link above.


To sum up what this means for the sports blogging world: this is the equivalent of Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman as college undergrads -- after lots of drinking, partying and watching crappy reality TV --  finally launching Super Friends on graduation day. No one knows what to expect or where this will go, but the excitement is palpable and forces everyone to pay attention.


What do you expect from Grantland?

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Jed, Sports-Glutton.com

Whenever possible, I'll be posting Q&A with sports bloggers. The goal is to get to know the players in the industry and celebrate those dominating their niche online. Interested? Email or @ mention me.



Jed runs both sports-glutton.com and golf-glutton.com, and if the name isn't a dead giveaway, he gorges himself on sports, food and "adult libation" tips, as he might say. You can reach him directly on Twitter or via email.


Sports blogging is the main course, and the meal starts now. Let's dig in...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Your Blog Sucks (via ProBlogger.net & Matthew Kepnes)





Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt's Travel Site offers the blog equivalent of a "drop and give me 50!" command on ProBlogger.net this week. So if you're looking for some midweek inspiration (more like roundhouse kick to the face) check out Matthew's guest post, Why Your Blog Sucks.


My favorite quote from the ProBlogger post:


Blogging, like it or not, is a business. (Sure, you can write a blog just for mom and dad but I suspect most people reading this article want to make a serious business out of their blog.) Blogging is like any other profession. You don’t get better unless you improve yourself. But if you already view yourself as the best, you limit your ability to become great, because you make yourself blind to your limitations.


Rock on, Matthew!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tips for Live Blogging Sports

Over the past week, I've been discussing the merits of live blogging a sporting event. My first post on the subject covered some of the basics and outlined why I'm a believer in avoiding in-game live blogging.

But there are absolutely a few instances to use live blogging to convey information.

Before we dive into them, a bit of a disclaimer: this is just my opinion, and I encourage you to agree, disagree or add more color to my views in the comments section or on Twitter. My goal here is to expose just a few valuable approaches to live blogging as a sports blogger.

Additionally, if you're looking for generic blog tips or an overview of live blogging, I'd recommend more overarching sites like ProBlogger.net or longer examinations such as Colin O'Keefe's post on Past the Press Box. And here's a great ode to live blogging as well.

Above all else, no matter how you convey info and express yourself online, remember that your words must provide value to someone if you plan on blogging for an audience.

Now, onto the rundown!

Live Blogging Use Case #1: Exclusive Events

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Live Blogging Sporting Events

If print media answers the question, "What happened?", then live blogging, if used correctly, answers, "What's happening?" But too often, live blogging sporting events is abused and misused. 

(If you're new to the concept, live blogging means dynamically updating your blog posts as an event unfolds and/or using a real-time conversation widget to share information and potentially reader questions during an event.)

The next few posts to BDL will examine live blogging in the sports blogosphere. In particular, we'll discuss the pros and cons to continually updating your blog while watching a game -- or, as I like to call it, the "Already Watching This" Syndrome. (I explain below.) 

Already Watching This Syndrome, Explained (told you)

Kevin James describes the syndrome pretty nicely in the first 60 seconds:


When you live blog a sporting event, chances are high that your would-be readers are already watching the very same event. (If you're a Knicks blogger, your readers are Knicks fans and -- you guessed it -- they watch Knicks games! You're sharp. You're a sports blogger. So you already knew this. But stay with me...)


Should your fans log onto the blog during the big game, your live blog merely acts as the girlfriend pulling their collective arm and pointing to the TV. "Watch this part! I mean really watch!"


We get it. You're handing us a text rundown of the action we can see already...in video.


Live blogging in this particular vein adds little value to a fan's experience of a game (unless you're in the press box or in the stands, where you have access to info and activities the typical fan wouldn't notice on TV)


As I mentioned here, I'm a big advocate for ensuring you're adding value in some way when you publicize your thoughts and words, especially during games.


So how do you live blog and still add value? For starters, don't live blog that often during games, if at all.


Now this isn't to suggest that live blogging doesn't add value, period. If used during a conference or exclusive gathering, you can offer a wealth of information to your readers and create digital "attendees" that can even interact with actual event participants. MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference comes to mind as the perfect place for sports bloggers to live blog. Think of the benefits to readers:
  • You provide instant analysis, key quotes and a digestible summary of an event that, without your blog, your readers would miss until after the conference ended.
  • You offer a means for readers to pose questions sent through your blog to the event's speakers, given the right type of event.
  • Speakers are held more accountable, as readers with the time and technology on hand can immediately check facts and figures.
Posting live during this kind of event busts open otherwise closed doors. That is unbelievably valuable (not to mention an incredibly cool feat for you to accomplish). Platforms such as CoveritLive are also available for bridging the gap between current events and digital audiences.


But remember: should you choose to live blog, keep the in-game summaries to a minimum. Don't be that annoying girlfriend (or boyfriend). Otherwise, prepare to watch some of your readers get cozy with another blog.

During the next few posts, I'll look at a few positive use cases for live blogging sports, as well as the best practices for live blogging in ways that adds true value to readers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Defense Of Sports Bloggers, from AaronTorres-Sports.com

In Defense Of Sports Bloggers - a well-written, poignant and refreshing post by Aaron Torres - could easily be the Blog Don't Lie slogan.

I won't re-invent the wheel (or in this case, the blog post) by providing my own rant on how sports bloggers can be legitimate, even if print media may still not see it. Instead, I highly recommend checking out Aaron's blog, particularly this post in which he stands up for you, for me and for any legitimate, thoughtful and passionate fan blogger.

(You can follow Aaron on Twitter for more discussion, or even download his mobile app. Now that's a passionate fan blogger!)



A few key quotes to whet your appetite for debate and for being fanatical about your industry, sports blogging:

Believe me, I’ve dealt with negative, mean-spirited idiots here before. Hell, just last night I had to block someone on Twitter that made a couple of really nasty comments. It happens. It’s what I signed up for. When your job (or hobby) includes putting your thoughts and opinions out in a public forum, you’re opening up yourself for criticism. Fair or not, that’s life. If you don’t have thick skin, find something else to do.

--

[...] blogging isn’t a bunch of guys in their underwear sitting in a dark basement (As a matter of fact, I’m wearing pants as we speak). What blogging is, is the ultimate meritocracy. Yes anyone can start a blog, but if you don’t have anything fun, clever, interesting or unique to say, people aren’t going to read your work, or come back to visit your site.

--

To me, there’s a difference between unearthing good information and ruining lives. And Deadspin certainly toes the line between the two.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Top Sports Bloggers

Sports bloggers haven't always mixed well with traditional media (just see the first paragraph in the link below). If you're looking for disruptive and insightful people to follow, regardless of their connection to traditional media or their disdain for it, I'd recommend this Sportsgrid post (Sportsgrid is the sports arm of Mediaite): Top Sports Bloggers

Examined in this list are the big guns stirring the pot in the industry, the top tweeters and the bloggers flying under the radar.

Shock value: one of the most influential Twitter handles to follow...belongs to an octogenarian.

No shock here: the biggest, baddest, Boston-est blogger on the block...is Bill Simmons.

Friday, April 15, 2011

In-Game Tweeting by Sports Bloggers

I follow a lot of sports journalists, sports bloggers and sports fans on Twitter. I'm amazed at all the great analysis and all the passion that I see in my feed daily. That insightful look at sports trickles over to blogs as well. The availability of information in multiple media (text, infographics, video, etc.) has vastly improved blog quality (at least when the blogger chooses to create original content rather than repurpose it).

But in-game comments by fans and media members without credentials to that event is now easier than ever to access. We're walking a fine line between excellent, immediate info and mountains of meaningless comments and noise to filter in order to find quality. 

Over the next few posts, I'll explore this phenomenon of instantly available sports info and instant analysis and commentary.

But it's Friday, and you need to get out of the office or out onto the quad (if you're doing the latter, take me with you?). So let's keep this short and sweet:

In-Game Coverage: To Tweet, or Not to Tweet?
Trick question!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jim Murray, Hall of Famer, Keeps Inspiring Sports Journalists

In this post:
  • An organization doing amazing things for aspiring sports writers and sports bloggers.
In 2006, I was fortunate enough to win the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation scholarship for aspiring sports journalists.

If you're in school and have any inkling that sports journalism in whatever form is for you, this is an organization worthy of attention. Each year, the foundation awards about seven scholarships to college students across the nation who participate in their essay contest (always sports-focused).

The late Jim Murray, for those of you who may be new to the name, was nothing short of an extraordinary writer: a Baseball Hall of Famer, he was a founding writer of Sports Illustrated and wrote for both the LA Times and Time magazine.






As a junior at Trinity College in Hartford, I discovered the scholarship on a newsletter lying around the English department. I quickly learned the Murray was a graduate of Trinity and immediately submitted my application.

The topic every year is sports-related (mine was to discuss a strategy around a one-on-one interview with the president of your Division I university following a nationally publicized football scandal).

At the scholarship reception, I was able to meet some former athletes (Steve Garvey and I had dinner together) and make some connections at places like ESPN (which led to my working there). It was an incredible experience for me and my family, and one for which I can't thank the scholarship and the founder, Linda McCoy-Murray, enough.

So check out the JMMF -- and give me a shout if you win it.  ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sports Blogging Panel: New Media means "the Renaissance of Journalism"

Back on Thursday, March 10, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland held an event entitled "New Wave Meets Old School", a panel of leading sports bloggers who discussed changes in sports journalism and the blogosphere.

The night's main goal was to surface and discuss the challenges facing sports journalists in the face of new media (the focus was squarely on blogging and Twitter). Below, I'll pull out some of the more revealing or insightful comments by the panel, a group that included:


Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Get Started Sports Blogging



I've read a lot of social media gurus' advice for aspiring bloggers lately on how to launch, how to find your voice, how to start connecting via social networks, etc. My single greatest takeaway from all this reading: everyone's got an opinion.

Here's mine:
EXPRESS YOURSELF!

If you are thinking of blogging, then blog! And blog for you.

I've had several job interviews during which one of my older blogs became a 5-10 minute conversation (whenever I blog, it goes on my resume). It's an easy way to prove to potential employers a number of things about yourself that would otherwise be hard to convey in a 30 minute interview. 

I remember one conversation I had while interviewing with a large sports media outlet for a PR role, about 6 things came out of one simple question I received: "So tell me about this blog of yours."

  1. I explained my interest in the topic the blog discussed...
  2. my background in writing...
  3. and journalism...
  4. my interest in social media...
  5. my ability to promote and optimize the site...
  6. and my ability to put my writing and face in the public eye a la PR jobs.
Your blog can convey similar things, as well as your creativity, initiative and responsibility (obviously, if you haven't updated in 4 months, it may not be worth putting the site on your resume).

The kicker: I didn't get the job offer (they kept it in-house)! But the conversation I had helped me create a strong tie that I still maintain today, which will help me with future opportunities. (I'll admit -- I'm young in my career; it's not like I've had dozens of interviews to this point.)

So if you're thinking of blogging, just blog! Write what's in your heart and on your mind. Be passionate! It's okay to launch a blog that's for you and you alone. In fact, without that self-interest, the blog will stall and flop.

If you change your goals, you can get there too with a little extra hard work.

And if your passion is sports, well, I don't remember the last time you needed to pass any test or receive any certification to express yourself as a fan.

You don't ever need help
From nobody else
All you got to do now:
Express yourself
- Charles Wright

Happy Friday, everybody. Feel free to express yourself if you agree, disagree, or just plain want to chat about sports and sports blogging.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sports Bloggers: Few in Number, Loud in Voice

To help sports bloggers better understand their industry, I've been diving into Technorati's State of the Blogosphere this week. I first introduced you to this annual study before summarizing the colossal shift in the industry over the past year or so.

Today, I want to answer two questions:

1. What's the DNA of the blogosphere? (Demographics, types of bloggers, motivations, influences, interests, etc.)
2. Where do sports fit in the blogosphere? (Prepare to be humbled.)




BLOGOSPHERE DNA

Bloggers can be divided into four distinct types, each with their own set of goals and purpose when they write or record their posts. The quick and dirty:

Hobbyists (64% of all blogs): The backbone of the blogosphere. If you're reading this blog, or you write a sports blog as a fan, chances are this is you. You blog for fun to express your opinions and typically don't expect an income. You measure success by personal satisfaction over all else.

Self-Employeds (21%): The second largest group, over half own companies and blog about their businesses, while 1 in 5 say the blog IS their business. They're driven by gaining greater visibility via their blogs (though they do so alone - 66% said they run the site as the lone writer/contributor).

Part-Timers (13%): These bloggers find supplemental income through their blogs, or else blog as part of their day jobs. Success for them is a mix of personal satisfaction and unique views.

Corporates (1%): Many corporate bloggers arrive on the digital scene with traditional media backgrounds. Over half blog to share know-how in the industry, while 39% say they blog to be featured in traditional media.


DEMOGRAPHICS
  • 66% Male
  • 65% ages 18-44
  • affluent/education:
    • 79% have college degree (43% grad degree)
    • 33% Household Income $75K+
  • 81% blogging for more than 2 yrs
  • Professionals average 3.5 blogs, 10+ hrs/week
  • 11% use it as primary income source
  • 33% used to work in traditional media
  • Evenly distributed by region
    • Top 5 states with most blogs (in order): CA, NY, TX, FL, IL

SPORTS BLOGGING

Sports creates arguably the best excuse to blog: everyone has an opinion, you brand yourself with your team's logo and loudly express your opinions for the public to hear in reality…why not do that digitally?

However, despite the millions of sports fans globally, sports comprises a very small percent of the overall blogosphere. Just one percent of all blogs (and one percent of Hobbyist bloggers) focus on sports as the primary topic. To compare to other common topics: five percent of blogs focus on business; eight percent focus on politics; 10 percent tech; and 18 percent personal musings (the largest primary topic in the blogosphere).

There is some nuance to this number, however, as this discusses just the primary topic. Ten percent of all blogs at least touch on sports, which is significant considering the breadth of topics available.

Additionally, major sporting events tend to dominate the space seasonally: in 2010, the World Cup was the fourth "most blogged" topic and seventh "most read"; the Winter Olympics were ninth and 10th, respectively.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU

The number of true sports bloggers is small in comparison to other topics. This promotes exactly what Blog Don't Lie seeks: a tight community of passionate, identifiable sports bloggers who create compelling content online across multiple types of media.

Over the next five years, I expect the blogger community to find new channels, new technologies or adaptations of existing technology to locate each other and engage.

The result will be epic: fans thrust into the spotlight and given credibility like never before.

Other thoughts? Where is the blogosphere heading in your opinion, and where does sports fit? Leave a comment or @ me on Twitter!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sports Bloggers and the Rise of the Blogosphere

In this post:

  • Summary of Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2010

Yesterday, I introduced you to the Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2010, a study based on 7,200 bloggers polled from 24 countries. It is an absolute must-read for any blogger. (I'd highly recommend the intro and conclusion and browse the middle sections at your leisure, since they're so data heavy.)

Today, I wanted to help you understand the shift the blogosphere has endured recently and the void that's left for bloggers. (Unfortunately, if you're a Mets blogger, that void has little to do with technology…)

If the blogosphere were an indie band, it essentially sold out in 2010. It was "an industry of transition" that finally went mainstream. No longer an upstart community, it faced the repercussions of popularity: clutter, noise, big companies misusing blogs, big publications mislabeling their columns "blogs", and more.

However, as an established medium, blogs entered 2011 still searching for that next way forward (my opinion: video is that way forward). As the lines between blogs, microblogs and social networks began disappearing last year, new blog personalities began finding success through a combination of these outlets (and blogs themselves were not always a part of that decision).

One unbelievably positive finding by Technorati in light of this mainstream blogosphere: half the people polled believe news and entertainment will come from blogs rather than traditional media over the next five years.

That stat is worth revisiting: a medium which when I first launched a blog in 2005 was being viewed as a glorified diary written by preteens…will eventually outpace TV, radio and print as a source of news and entertainment?

Remarkable just how far this medium has come.

Tomorrow, we'll look at some key stats to help identify the blogosphere demographic…and answer the question of where sports bloggers fit (the answer will surprise you).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Identifying Bloggers: Technorati's State of the Blogosphere

In this post:

  • Bad jokes
  • A must-see link
  • A problem this link tries to solve

They read their sports pages, know their statistics and either root like hell or boo our butts off. I love it. Give me vocal fans, pro or con, over the tourist types who show up in Houston or Montreal and just sit there. - Mike Schmidt

People love to compartmentalize, analyze and summarize. I guess you can say the "-ize" have it (thank you, thank you…). When we try to -ize something, we like to know two things: the definition of the category (what is it?) and the members of that category (who is it?).

Blogs and "the blogosphere", however, are about as nebulous a category as you'll find online, and the members are scattered across a myriad of topics, technologies, networks and media.

In my last post, I shared my favorite links from BallHyped, a network used to vote up and promote sports blog posts. If you take nothing from that post, take a look at the pages listing the top one thousand sports bloggers on Twitter and the BallHyped Leaderboard (bloggers posting the most content to BallHyped). These come as close to identifying the participants in the sports blogosphere as I've seen.

But perhaps the best resource for understanding the blogosphere is Technorati's annual State of the Blogosphere.




This study is lengthy and packed with charts, graphs, percentage breakdowns and survey responses -- but it's also worth a read. The methodology is fairly straightforward: Technorati polled 7,200 bloggers from 24 countries about anything and everything involving the blogosphere.

So why is this so valuable?

Like I said, it's tough to put a finger on the blogosphere and understand it. First, there's the definition of the category. A blog is a web log. A sports blog is a web log about sports. How helpful can that really be? What's a log, anyway? Do we count text, image, video, live chat, podcasts and finger paints?

Sports blogs in 2011 can be anything from a running diary of incoherence (what most people assumed I was launching in 2005 with my first blog) to a major site with thousands of unique views, sponsorships and a staff of writers. And this is completely ignoring the big publications who see the trend and slap "blog" on their columnists online articles.

Then, there's the issue of identification. Who is sports blogging or podcasting or video blogging? Who is a true fan blog and who is a blog backed by a local or national publication? Where are they, and how do we find them?

Blog networks help, but there are countless out there (SB Nation, ESPN TrueHoop, Bloguin, FanSided, ProSportsBlogging…the list goes on). Blogrolls help, but a single blogger can't have an exhaustive list of everyone out there on his or her site. Search.Twitter.com helps, but bloggers don't consistently tweet phrases like "sports blog", so they're hard to find (and searching for content-driven phrases like "sports" or "Knicks" produces a list too full of non-bloggers to be useful.

There may not be a "solution", but Technorati has managed to capture the essence of the space year after year.

Over the next few posts, we'll dive into the valuable information from the study and help you make sense of the 2010 State of the Blogosphere.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

BallHyped: A Social Voting Site Hyping Sports Bloggers

Blogging on sports blogging.


That's incredibly niche, don't you think?


Sure, it's not exactly like I'm writing about the strategies and recipes on cooking with pineapple, but examining the act of blogging via a blog is a bit nuanced. There aren't too many sites that are similar (which I see as a positive thing, as I hope to fill a need). So you can imagine I was excited to find BallHyped.com, a social voting site hyping sports bloggers and sports blog posts.


Looking into their mission and approach, they're a great resource for sports bloggers that I'd highly recommend. By signing up, you gain an easy way to get your posts out there and see what the community thinks via their voting option. (They've apparently been experiencing a lot of spam lately, and as a result the sign-up requires you to email them the details of your site with your email address in order to receive a log-in and password from the BallHyped admins.)


Some of the more relevant and useful content on BallHyped:
  • BallHyped.com Best Sports Blog Book: a yearly publication pulling from popular posts.
  • Badges: post these on your site to link to BallHyped. In their words: BallHyped.com not only links to your blog when you send article posters our way, but we'll promote all new entires as recent blog submissions, and the best sports blogs and stories of the day will be promoted on our homepage.
  • Sports Blogger Resources: a list of tactics, articles, events and more for sports bloggers.
  • Top 1,000 Sports Bloggers on Twitter and BallHyped Leaderboard: the most-followed sports blogger Twitter handles and the most active bloggers on BallHyped, respectively. These are amazing finds! They're all excellent people to connect with if you're trying to expand your influence online, as they're all actively engaging others via Twitter and consistently posting online and promoting their sites.
Share BallHyped.com - Voting up best sports stories, blogs of the day

Finding Useful Sports Blog Content

One of the best ways I've found to receive daily information on a niche is to set up a Google Alert (shameless plug No. 2 for my employer's products on this blog -- the other being how the +1 button can help sports bloggers -- but these things are genuinely useful).

I receive daily alerts on the sports blogosphere, which helps me learn more about the community and keep up with the latest news and trends.

What are some other ways you find useful resources and learn about your niche? Do you use BallHyped? What do you think?