It's not just me, then...
Why

Don't believe the hype

Phil was on TV again yesterday night - this time it was Channel News Asia (from Singapore) and I suppose it was late enough not to scare too many children.

Personally, I'm getting rather bored with all the hype about blogging.  When magazines like Business Week start telling us that Blogs will change your business, something has gone wrong.  Yes, I know that some large companies are employing Chief Blogging Officers, and others are allowing employees to blog about their work.  I also know there are sites that pay people to blog.  And yet, what does it all mean?  Five years or so ago (or whenever it was) we heard similar stories about the Internet in general, and 99% of it was hype.  Likewise, blogging is just a hobby that amuses a few people, and it isn't going to change their lives or make them seriously rich (there's a good New York Times article on the subject if you're fast enough).

Phil's final comment on the TV programme was that viral marketing is the future for blogs.  Well, if you say so...  Viral marketing is probably something we will see more of, but how many blogs have enough readers for it to be worthwhile?

Meanwhile, some of the more high-minded bloggers in Hong Kong got upset when a TV show and newspaper report characterised blogging as little more than young people publishing their online diaries.  Of course that's wrong - it's old people as well. 

OK, so a small minority of blogs have intelligent commentary and serious political content, and a few of them are widely-read (and, of course, American bloggers are hugely influential, as Dan Rather will tell you) but the vast majority are shallow and trivial.  So it's not unreasonable for blogging to be portrayed in that way, and no amount of pompous letters from bloggers "to media/organizations/scholars" are going to change that. 

Blogging tools are useful, and some people with something to say have been able to get online more easily (and cheaply) than would otherwise have been the case, but as with every other piece of technology from video cameras to digital cameras to mobile phones to the Internet itself, the trivial always greatly outweighs the worthy. 

Luckily, people who are looking for interesting and worthwhile blogs are probably capable of finding them, whatever Cable TV or Sing Pao Daily or anyone else says about the subject.  Not here, though.   

Comments

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fumier

Oldies but goldies.

person

Sing Tao Daily, I think.

And I think Phil is just one of the people who are saying what other people are saying, just there's few people in Asia saying it. That we know of.

Phil

I could give you a whole treatise on viral marketing and product seeding because I have spent the past year becoming an expert on it in preparation for something I have on the go. But I will save you the pain :)

The vast majority of blogs/journals are readerless shells but there are some that have a considerable following and they are the ones that interest people like me (with their professional hat on).

Product Seeding seeks out the people who set trends rather than follow them (about one in a thousand people statistically) and targetting select blogs is one way (not the only) of seeding new products. The thing is you target the product before it is released because then you have people saying I helped shape that!

A classic example is the test movie audience. The gmail invitations where being on the seeding panel itself became a commodity through the invitation process was a classic example of both seed-paneling and viral marketing.

Everything you say is correct but there is a sub section which although small influences a large enough group of consumers to be of interest to marketers. Sucessful marketers will utilise the independance of blogs to their advantage rather than try and shape what the bloggers have to say. And if a bad product becomes good because of seeding panels, of which *certain specific* webloggers are likely to be a part then the you can bet your life said blogger will tell everyone.

This type of marketing is extremely effective and in NA and Europe is becoming a much larger part of the marketing mix.

I am part of the race to make it much bigger here.

doug crets

Phil, is this your way of explaining how you like to talk about the personal and private things you like to have access to on your blog?

So, is your blog a test ground for viral marketing?

I see the shell of viral marketing on it. I wonder, though, if conflating marketing with what you have said is a very progressive form of political expression for some people will begin to piss people off? Here you are talking about blogging being a clear means of talking outside of the mainstream media, but on the other side you're ready to make some money.

Seems like you've changed clothes and become something of a Hong Kong tycoon in the jet set world. What did it feel like when you used the media to plant your seeds last week?

Do you still see yourself as a blogger? Is there such a thing? These are honest questions, hoping for an honest response.

Chris

I'm not sure whether this is viral marketing, but I came across an interesting example recently - there's a new book by Steven D Levitt called "Freakonomics" that is selling very well in the States, and one way it has been promoted is by sending galley proofs of the book to bloggers. I'm guessing that they are right-wing bloggers who would be sympathetic to the message contained in the book, and who will review it or at least mention it.

There was something a little bit similar a few months ago with that bloke who published his book about Hong Kong on a blog and garnered favourable comments from a few bloggers (and then, of course, removed most of the book from the blog). I don't know whether it was successful, but it was quite clever piece of marketing.

My point is that there are a limited number of blogs with enough readers, and they tend to cover a limited number of subjects, so I doubt that there is much scope to use viral marketing in this way.

fumier

I am working on a book about yellow Saab convertibles in Hong Kong and expect sales to be significantly enhanced by my blog.

Phil

Doug, these are two separate things entirely. Flyingchair is a test bed for nothing and to be honest I am working 12 to 15 hours a day building up my company I barely have time to do anything with it as is clear from the very ad hoc posting. I doubt anyone would want to promote anything on FC, I certainly would not pay to use it if it were not mine and would not accept the money if someone offered. It would be a pittance.

I am involved in something to do with viral marketing and product seeding. Blogs are one channel for this, one of about thirty I have on a list right now. I may end up never using this channel if other channels provide a better return which is my primary business interest. Nor anywhere in my plans will I be paying bloggers anything. And this is only one of five business concepts I am trying to get off the ground using technology developed in the client service work that my company Upstart has done since it launched a year ago.

On that note I have to go back to work and fulfil my capitolist drive to become a millionaire in a non-monopoly currency in the four years and two weeks I have left before I am forty.

Whether you use the limited information I have given to come to the wrong conclusion about what motivates me or what I am trying to do is up to you and I don't have the time to be care.

You always ask "honest questions" and yet they seem to come with barbs and point-scoring. Still holding a grudge?

doug crets

What would I hold a grudge against?

QC

I'm bothered whenever anything that's worthwhile becomes commercialized. Partly just by the sheer inevitability of it.

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