Staying Ahead of the Internet Business Curve with the Blogosphere
This is the way modern business works: products and services are covered and debated months, even years, before they’re actually released. Years ago, this would have been unfathomable. Today, it’s business as usual to debate industry rumors and anticipate trends and other information that can help you get a competitive advantage.
Blogosphere Tracking Tools
The best way to uncover trends is by regular searching the ‘blogosphere,’ a term that refers to the millions of daily blogs published on the Internet. Here you can be privy to the opinions of industry experts and information leaks that will help you generate entrepreneurial ideas and online marketing innovations. Blogs are the go-to resource to learn about what’s shaping an industry, as well as find out what to expect in the future.
But the amount of information obtained from the blogosphere can be daunting. The key is to be efficient, and to narrow your information feed to a few good sources that have been thoroughly evaluated. One of the places that will help you make sense of all of this is called Technorati (Technorati.com), a website that aggregates information through an indexed search system. The site also uses a rating system called the Technorati Authority that measures a site’s influence on a scale of 0-1,000 through how many times its information is syndicated on other sites. Additionally, Technorati has a subcategory index that measures a blog’s impact in particular industries. For instance, Kotaku.com, which covers everything from video games to online gambling, has a Gaming Authority of 994, making it the #1 blog in the subcategory of Gaming blogs. However, in the general blogosphere is has a Technorati Authority of 805, making it a still impressive #26 for the entire internet.
The recommended strategy for using Technorati is to search for certain buzzwords or trends that you wish to follow. Let’s search for the term “bingo” as an example. Using Technorati in January, a search for bingo yields three sites each with a Technorati Authority of over 400. From here, you’ll want to check the quality of each. Ask yourself some questions: Does it have relevant information? Is it updated frequently? Do the writers have expertise or do they display a certain passion for the industry?
Each industry has its own blog ‘stars,’ and of the three blogs turned up in this bingo search, only one covered online bingo frequently: blog.ixgames.com. The description calls it a gambling blog and news site, covering bingo, casino, poker and sports. It even has a subcategory called the Bingo Blog. Recent articles were geared towards players and industry, making it a place to find out about both sides of the business.
Blog.ixgames.com seems like a good site, but it surely isn’t a ‘star’ site. Its mediocre rating of 432 doesn’t place it in the Top 100 of the gaming subcategory. This should tell you that there’s still room for somebody to become the online bingo expert in the blogosphere — that’s an opportunity for a bingo-minded entrepreneur to have influence over the entire industry.
There are other similar sites that search the blogosphere. Google has its ‘Google Blogsearch’ tool at blogsearch.google.com. The site works much like Technorati, but instead of searching actual blogs, it searches the posts within those blogs. It doesn’t use a rating scale, but a quick review of the results should tell you the blogs with the most chatter about a topic and reveal some of the trends you need to start tracking.
Blogpulse, recently acquired by Nielsen, is an automated trend discovery system for blogs. Blogpulse applies machine learning and natural-learning processing techniques to discover which blogs are succeeding. Blogpulse uses a basic search much like Technorati and a ‘conversation tracker’ that searches postings much like the Google Blogsearch. It also offers a Trend Search, which graphically reproduces the “buzz” about certain topics. It’s a great way to monitor trends. For instance, a search of “Apple Tablet” shows a steady increase in online chatter over the last few months, with a major spike happening around the last week in January, when the official news was announced. Even better, you can see the causes of each spike on the graph. Just click on it, and it will reveal the news that caused the upswing! All three tools are great way to monitor trends and … drumroll, please … they are absolutely free!
Simplifying Your Information Feed
So now that you’ve some sites that will enable you to track industry trends, there is a way to gather the information into one simple source. You’ve probably seen the initials RSS (Really Simple Syndication) lurking in your email application or in the address area of your web browser. In fact, RSS readers are built into most web browsers and email programs. There are also dedicated tools like Google Reader. Check out the help section in your particular application, and you’ll be guided to set up your RSS feed.
Your personalized RSS will contain all your sources and will automatically update you with short headlines that are a sentence or two long. Blogs with broader topics will also allow you to set up a narrower RSS feed. For instance, in discovering the gaming site blog.ixgames.com (mentioned above), you can either choose the general feed for the gaming industry or use the RSS feed for its Bingo Blog instead. Using the Bingo Blog will help you focus on your topic of interest and cut out information clutter that can be distracting and time consuming.
Keeping pace with industry change on the Internet can be overwhelming. It’s important to narrow your focus as much as you can in order to shorten your reading time. By using these tools, you can keep abreast of the information you need and stay in touch with customers and influencers. They’re simple tools that are simply a must for the modern online marketer.