Social Networking Changes Blogging

Those of you on Facebook or Twitter can attest that many of us are now sharing links to news and blogs and commenting on them to our own “friends” on Facebook and Twitter.   conducted a study and found something interesting, most of the blog post awareness and commenting is now happening “off site,” (not on the blog itself).  People are increasingly being driven to blog posts by social networking, according to their study Facebook, Twitter and Digg were the top 3 traffic drivers to blogs. 

Since 2007 PostRank has been looking at the top 1000 most engaging feeds and found they experienced a 30% growth in engagement, despite onsite engagement (commenting on the blogsite) falling by 50%.  Previously people followed a blog post through RSS feeds on their feed reader and through links (trackbacks) sent to them by other people or within body of another blog post.  PostRank’s study found that engagement from trackbacks has fallen from 19% to 3%.  So how are people finding blog posts?  Referrals from Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook and other sites have gone up from 1% to over 29%. 

You would think that with everybody sharing stories on social networking sites would cause an cause engagement in stories to increase and make it even more necessary to have timely posts.  Yet according to PostRank’s study there is a steady increase in the lifespan of a story.  In 2007 PostRank observed that the over 94% of all engagement occurred within the first day publishing and 98% of that all occurred within the first hour.  In 2008 and 2009 a story’s lifespan increased.  In 2008, engagement with in the first hour was 83% and in 2009 it was 64%. 

Of course all of this information from this study comes from PostRanks, a company that has a dog in the fight with its own “social engagement” analytical software.  So I can understand why one might initially question the data.  Those of us in the medical world are trained to scruitinize data from drug companies and their products. 

Yet while I may not have numbers like PostRank and I am sure other companies might have other statistics, my general observations from my own blog and from my own forays on Twitter and Facebook have led me to believe that their is an increase in traffic driven to blogs from social sites and commenting from within the social site.   Unfortunately a lot of that discussion on the social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed are disjointed from the blog.  One person commenting on the post on Twitter may not see another person’s comment on Facebook and neither of those comments are found on the comment section of the blog.

So what does this mean for libraries with blogs, Twitter, and Facebook?  It means we need to do a better job of tying them all together or at least monitoring them.  Many of the library Twitter feeds have no link back to the library home page nor have Twitter badge on their site referring to their feed.  Blog posts can easily be fed into Twitter and Facebook yet very few libraries seem to be doing that.  Since many people are using Twitter and Facebook to communicate it seems we are missing an opportunity by not linking the blog post through those sites. 

Should everything revolve through every social application and site?  No but these applications (Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, etc) have changed the landscape.  IT is time we looked at how we blog and send out news items and see whether we need to adapt our strategies.

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