A guide to spotting the difference between blog types

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The term ‘blog’ is confusing. Fact.

Newspapers and magazines are defined by their physical output.

Television is defined by what it produces – moving pictures.

But blogs are not bound by convention, they are only bound by the ideas of the author(s).

Obviously, this is great, especially for the consumers of these blogs, but understanding their specific DNA as a comms professionals makes life challenging at times.

This has been annoying me of late, so here is a guide to the different types of blog out there and how you can spot the difference between each.

News blogs

Whether or not these are technically ‘blogs’ is not the issue, but identifying them is.

A news blog generally looks and feels like a traditional online news site, reporting on the latest announcements and developments from the sector(s) it covers.

Things to look out for to confirm whether you are dealing with a news blog include:

– A generic editorial email address i.e. news@mashable.com
– Several authors contribute, each specialising in a specific subject
– A face is often associated with the blog allowing people to connect with a figurehead i.e. someone to follow
– The classification of ‘what makes news’ is often more niche than an online news site (sites like telegraph.co.uk are attempting to serve the masses, which means being too specific can be harmful)
– Channels like Twitter and Facebook play an integral role in the distribution and sharing of news blog content

Examples: Mashable, Huffington Post, TechCrunch

Note: The differences between online news and sites and news blogs are almost non-existent in 2010, with both using pieces of each other arsenal to meet the needs of the consumer but news blogs are very different to the blogs outlined below.

Professional / Semi-Professional

A professional blog could be categorized as a ‘small editorial operation which aims to create revenue via the production of content’.

Professional blogs are generally of a high standard, produce content several times a day and focus heavily on news and features.

A semi-professional blog is by no means a derogatory term, if anything it recognises an incredible amount of effort (and quality) served up by someone who is not a full-time blogger.

The communications industry has hundreds of blogs in this classification.

Danny Brown’s blog is a good example of this.

Danny is a co-founder of an agency called Bonsai Interactive Marketing which is his ‘day job’ – but, his blog is also incredibly impressive given the time challenges he must face.

Identifying professional and semi-professional blogs requires one thing: time.

The about page is usually good place to start, but then look for things like:

– Average posts per week / day
– Subscriber numbers (often featured as badges, these figures help narrow things down a bit)
– Semi-professional blogs tend to be one-man/woman shows (predominantly)
– Professional blogs may be revenue-orientated, where as semi-professional blogs are less so
– Email addreses found on these blogs are normally personalised or not featured very prominently

Many people will tell you that sites like Technorati or Wikio can give you this information but to be safe, really get to know the source from the source, not a third party opinion.

Recreational

I’m not sure if this term is 100% accurate, but it does encapsulate the feeling you get from blogs of this nature.

Content tends to be produced sporadically, but it is characterised by a very specific passion for a particular subject.

Recreational bloggers aren’t out to make any money, they just want to provide opinions on the things they care about.

You could probably add in review blogs in with this classification (although reviews are a part of most blogs).

Aggregator / link sharing blogs

The rise of platforms like posterous and tumblr have made collating content and re-publishing it very easy.

These blogs are characterised by links, with little or no original content occupying the page.

AllTop is an extreme example, but have a poke around posterous and you’ll find many of these blogs.

Note: Again, are these really blogs? It is down to your personal viewpoint I think, but they do carry good content and as a result can’t be overlooked.

Group blogs

A hybrid blog, bringing together a stable of authors from other blogs to provide centralised content.

A blog is this category would include PR Breakfast Club.

What is my point?

Mainly, I’d love to get some help from anyone reading this to refine this architecture further.

Personally, I don’t care what we call them, but in helping to educate clients and colleagues, some shape and structure would explain the space better, and encourage better approaches from PR people still working out the subtleties of the craft.

So, do you have a suggestion?

Are there categories I’ve missed?

What other tips would you give to help people differentiate between them all?

I’d love to know what you think.

Adam

COMMScorner.com is the blog from Adam Vincenzini which focuses on social media and PR. Connect with Adam on Twitter or subscribe to his blog.

4 Comments

  • Reply November 2, 2010

    Stephen Waddington

    Hi Adam – How about lifestreaming? It was the vogue in the US 12 – 18 months ago. Less so now. I guess it sits somewhere between recreational blogging and link sharing.

  • Reply November 2, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    That’s a good one Wadds – I’ll add that to the ever-changing thought that this is turning into!

  • Reply November 2, 2010

    jonclements

    Adam
    Unless I’m much mistaken I think you’ve omitted the corporate blog – defined by the University of Massachusetts Center for Marketing Research as “public-facing corporate blogs…to engage the public”.

    Not only are the different types of blogs confusing, there is a suggestion from the University’s latest research that companies are pulling back from blogging, preferring to engage via other routes such as Twitter and Facebook.
    The research is a wholly US-focused viewpoint, and I would be interested to hear what people’s views are of the UK corporate blogging landscape.

    In the meantime, this is the post I did today on the topic:
    http://pr-media-blog.co.uk/fortune500s-blogging-blues/

  • Reply November 2, 2010

    Steve Earl

    How about Bogs?
    As in blogs started by senior people at PR companies who then only post once in a blue moon, giving the impression that they never really wanted to blog in the first place but felt they needed to look like they gave a sh&t about digital media?

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