Monday, October 01, 2007

Who's the Top?

Whenever I talk with a PR person about new media the same question comes up: how do I figure out what are the top blogs? Sometimes they get more specific in asking for the top blogs in a specific area, but no matter how many times I try to point out that there are several ways to cut this, people still want numbers. I try to focus people on the site's community and readership, intelligence of the discussions, the author's credibility and whether the topic is relevant to whatever is you're doing. It's a more complex way of looking at the issue, but also very effective.

I've long been critical of the idea that links determine much of anything, partially because they don't measure readers but also because they assume that readership equals active participation from other blogs. Shel Israel has made the point that if you have a blog with no links and three readers, it comes up as unimportant in the blogging world, but if those three readers include President Bush and his Chief of Staff, then it's rather influential.

I also believe that as blogs and other social media services move more mainstream in their consumption, the readership levels will go up while participation levels may remain steady. My family blog remains well-read, but doesn't have much by way of links or comments, that's because it appeals to an audience that would much rather read than discuss.

Then there is the idea that you can pay for links, a practice that TechCrunch calls out when it writes about Techmeme's Leaderboard list as a direct competitor to Technorati's last major stronghold.

No list is perfect, but at least Techmeme offers a major alternative and one that will evolve over time. I'm looking forward to watching it.

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