Refresh: Top 50 Most Influential Cycling Bloggers: Celebrating the ‘Cycle Chic’ Movement

26 08 2011

Eurobike and Interbike are fast approaching, making the cycling industry just about insane. We’re also lucky to have the USA Pro Challenge hurling through the Colorado Rockies this week. I will have the pleasure of attending Interbike again this year and hope to meet as many folks as possible. Drop me a line if you want to meet up for coffee: yann [at] extanz.com. I’ll also be DSLR cruising as usual!

Back in May 2010, I published the first list of Top 50 influencers in the blogosphere. With Interbike so close, it felt appropriate to refresh this list, which has grown considerably. Like last time, this partial list only looks at blogger influence and not twitter, Facebook or soon Google+ influences. I still updated the table to make it easy if you want to follow these awesome bloggers on Twitter or Facebook though. Disclaimer: This is a list and like any list, it misses things (e.g. who is influential by topics, bike types, brands, where is the buzz and plenty more…). It may also not reflect the amount of traffic each blog gets. It does represent inlinks between the thousand or so blogs in the cycling community however, so while VeloNews (arguably a blog) might have very high traffic (blog/mag) for example, it is not getting referrals like CycleChic.
You can follow each blogger’s tweets at yannr/cycling. I also have Paper.li producing a Daily Paper, to which you can read and subscribe here: http://paper.li/yannr/1308161136 - You’ll get the best of what they share on twitter. As usual, feedback is welcome – remember that we do study many other industries. Cycling is a passion of mine and it’s a nice show case of our understanding of new media influence. Please schedule coffee with me at Interbike if you want to know more, email: yann [at] extanz.com

Hard working bloggers can represent the biking culture in so many more ways than traditional media. Read their blogs, and think about bike products from their sponsors. There have been large movements in the Top 50 — up and down, with bloggers coming into the list and some disappearing. Here are my main take aways:

  • Watch the Cycle Chic Movement: Denmark Cycling Chic (TM) Copenhagen (9th in 2010) dethroned Bike Snob NYC this year, and there’s a very good reason. At least 11 of the Top 50 cycling bloggers here are women. Cycling Chic Copenhagen has started a global movement — we can see many links pointing to Mikael’s blog (not ‘her’ indeed). This sub-community is rocking the blogosphere, or shall say women are rocking it! Women bloggers are a definite force to be reckoned with in the cycling world. In any community, sub-communities have stronger ties. They read each other more closely and influence each other. They also link to each other more which shows in this list. Next year, I may have to separate them from the larger pool to be fair to the rest. If a blogger dropped from last year’s list, it doesn’t mean they are less influential however. The Cycling Chics are just getting stronger. More women in cycling is good IMHO :)
  • Twitter and Facebook use: Looking at the numbers, Twitter is the definite place for people to connect with the Top 50 bloggers (over Facebook) beside their blog. 18 months ago, only 10% were on Facebook. It’s the reverse today as a large majority (66%) are using this medium to keep in touch with their community. Still a good 1/3 do not have either a Facebook page or a Twitter page, depending on preference. I assume the main reasons are either it is to time consuming (Facebook especially) or too brief (Twitter) and lacks conversational meaning. It’s also interesting that a good 44% have not shifted to ‘vanity URL‘ on Facebook. Get on it people!
  • Influence through Twitter and Facebook: As we can see with the both the numbers of followers or fans, we could have re-ranked everything accordingly. There is not a strong correlation between bloggers’ influence and social network influence even though some clearly use it well to spread the word and engage i.e. Cycle Chic Copenhagen on Facebook or Bike Snob NYC on Twitter.
  • Other interesting tidbits: Some blogs have had an impressive progression like Let’s go ride a bike by going from 29th to 4th place or Lovely Biycle going from 38th to 6th. On the brand side, Surly is doing it right… by breaking the Top 50 while no other brand blog is even close (we’d be happy to advise :))
That’s all folks. I’m anxious to see your feedback and any data I may have missed. It’s fascinating how much it has evolved in 18 months and how much all blogs focus on cultures and micro-cultures, beyond the bikes themselves. It’s not about the bike, right?
and now drum roll please…. The rank is based on blogs influence, not twitter or facebook follow. It still makes for a interesting comparison.

Blog Twittter follow Facebook fans
1 Cycle Chic™ -  Copenhagen. 4,300 10,565
2 Bike Snob NYC 21,691  ?
3 Copenhagenize.com 5,235 1,096
4 Let’s Go Ride a Bike 2,500 297
5 EcoVelo 1,745 2,377
6 Lovely Bicycle! 731 ?
7 Amsterdamize 3,497 191
8 Bikes and The City 289 1,159
9 Fat Cyclist 14,361 ?
10 League of American Bicyclists 5,885 3,368
11 BikePortland.org 8,955 ?
12 Cyclelicious 5,011 877
13 A view from the cycle path ? ?
14 Urban Velo 3,434 3,685
15 Kent’s Bike Blog 1,094 ?
16 Bicycle Comics 2,783 1,077
17 RidingPretty-Bicycle Chic California 451 309
18 Chic Cyclists ? ?
19 Surly Bikes 3,130 1,598
20 Jill Outside 494 405
21 Los Angeles Cycle Chic 530 149
22 Change Your Life. Ride A Bike! ? 318
23 Commute by Bike 400 846
24 Sac Cycle Chic 1,341 613
25 Bike Hugger 8,716 2,922
26 vélocouture 77 82
27 Streetsblog New York City 3,174 1,580
28 i b i k e l o n d o n 2,065 ?
29 Bike Commuters 72 724
30 VeloNews 41,000 13,875
31 The Path Less Pedaled 193 3,920
32 Bike By The Sea Blog ? ?
33 Portlandize ? ?
34 Hungarian Cycle Chic 80 6,396
35 All Hail the Black Market 1,952 1,499
36 Cycle Chic Belgium ? 1,397
37 Cycle Chic Sundays! 120 541
38 Vélo Vogue 1,006 342
39 Sheffield Cycle Chic 267 56
40 London Cycle Chic 1,842 1,413
41 She Rides a Bike ? ?
42 Sydney Cycle Chic 951 550
43 Toronto Cycle Style 416 981 67
44 Clever Cycles 1,712 1,247
45 BikeBlogs.com 270 ?
46 MnBicycleCommuter ? ?
47 London Cyclist Blog 6,822 729
48 Vancouver Cycle Chic 433 359
49 Lublin Cycle Chic ? 76
50 London Cycle Chic ? ?

Ride on and see you in Vegas,

+YannR @YannR

Yann Ropars

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Spotlight: The Good Work of Greenhouse Scholars

28 04 2011


Every now and then, you meet people who really can and do change the world.

On Thursday April 28, 2011, Extanz, along with 200 other guests will gather at the Denver Botanic Gardens for Glass Half Full, the first in a series of annual fundraising events for the Greenhouse Scholars program.

This one of a kind event features wine and culinary delights generously contributed by local and regional supporters of the program such as Table 6, Root Down, Sushi Hai, Colt & Gray, Masters of Whisky, Ben Parsons and the Infinite Monkey Theorem wine, and Haystack Mountain.

Silent and live auctions will raise funds for the program, with current scholars presentations rounding out the evening. Key sponsors for the event are Crestone Capital Advisors and Deloitte. Special thanks go to Beverage Distributors who donated all of the wine for the wine tastings, Lathrop & Gage, Liquor Mart (donated wine paired with each auction item and 3 cases of Silver Oak), The Quintess Collection (donated 10 nights), and RC Special Events (partnered on rentals).

Greenhouse Scholars is a non profit organization dedicated to growing Colorado’s community leaders by supporting high performing, under-resourced students in college with mentorship, scholarship, leadership and professional opportunities. Founded by Greenhouse Partners and grounded in the Whole Person approach of mentorship, the program works to support the relentless energy and passion of its incoming classes. The program annually receives in excess of 100 applications for its 12 slots. Scholars receive personal support from a mentor for four years, complete an internship, participate in peer support programs, come together annually for the Summer Symposium and participate in a professional contact program to support networking and professional interviewing skills.  The good work of the scholars as a result of this support is awe-inspiring.

The 55 current Greenhouse Scholars are passionate leaders in their communities.  They graduated from under-resourced high schools and communities across Colorado: 78% are the first in their family to attend college. The Scholars are now attending top universities, including Stanford, Georgetown, University of Denver, University of Colorado, Colorado College, and Dartmouth.  With the support of the Greenhouse Scholars program, they have college GPAs 20% higher than average – and 95% volunteer as mentors and advisors to younger students, compared to 23% of college students nationwide.

If you won’t be at Glass Half Full with us, don’t despair. There will be two more community events to come this year – The Annual Inspire (August 9, 2011) and Venus de Miles (August 28, 2011).

For more information or if you would like to support the program with a contribution, please visit www.greenhousescholars.org. You can also friend us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greenhousescholars/ and follow us on twitter!

With thanks to IraGelb and love2dreamfish for such wonderful images!

Kirsti





Klout vs. the Blogosphere: What does it mean to be influential?

16 12 2010

For a long time now, we’ve had a pretty good idea of who was influential (generally based on the strength of their blog) and such influential bloggers also tended to be influential in other online spheres, including social media sites. We’re starting to see a divergence now, however, between influencers in the blogosphere and in the social networks (namely Facebook & Twitter). So… with the increasing power of Facebook and especially Twitter, how do you compare an influential blogger with an influential tweeter? Is that influence equivalent? Transposable? One has hundreds of links pointing to her/his website and receives tens, if not, hundreds of comments to her/his blog, sustaining a focused series of committed conversations and partners. The other has thousands of followers and is often retweeted, wielding a power to draw folks into conversation. Apples and oranges? Or should the label ‘top influencer’ be given only to those powerful across all social media realms?

To date, blogging has been the gold standard for online influence in new media (see Brian Solis’ recent post on the subject). The most influential online personalities create blogs with high readership and audience participation, are highly shared and have a significant amount of inbound links pointing towards them. Bloggers create meaningful content that produces action. Social networks are a way for that content to be distributed, but are not the conversation mechanism. That’s all changing. Twitter personalities are becoming influential and possess the power to draw people into conversation, but their blogs don’t always rank. We also see some of the most influential bloggers lacking Twitter influence at times. So, back to the questions at hand – who is influential and how do we know?

Klout has recently come onto the influence-measuring scene and offers interesting metrics for gauging online influence. Klout claims to be “the measurement of your overall online influence” and bills itself as the ‘Standard for Online and Internet Influence,” but when you read through its metrics, it does not look at the strength and ranking of your website/blog nor your influence within the blogosphere. So are the folks Klout identifies really the top online influencers? Let’s compare metrics. How do Klout influencers compare with blogging influencers?

One industry we watch for influence is the travel industry. We recently came across this list that ranks the ‘Top Online Travel Influencers’ using Klout’s metrics. It made us wonder how it compared to a list ranking blogger influence based on inbound links within the travel blogging community. Initially we were going to re-rank the list according the blog influence and compare, but we discovered it was missing a number of key influencers (Gadling, for example). Instead, we pulled a a list of the top 50 travel bloggers (removing print travel publications) out of more than 800 travel blogs and re-ranked them by social media influence using Klout. Below we compare the original list we found, the top 50 travel bloggers and the top 50 travel bloggers ranked by Twitter influence. As you’ll see, they’re very different lists.

Top Travel Bloggers Top Travel Bloggers by Klout Score* Top Influencers from Influencers in Travel**
1 Gadling Everything Everywhere EarthXplorer
2 Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Everything Everywhere
3 Trip Base Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Tremendo Viaje
4 Uptake The Planet D Legal Nomads
5 Travel Blog Exchange Europe A La Carte Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
6 Wanderlust & Lipstick Travel Dudes Intelligent Travel Blog
7 Everything Everywhere Brave New Traveler Land Lopers
8 Delicious Baby Uncornered Market Wild Junket
9 Elliott GranToursimo! The Planet D
10 World Hum Gadling Midlife Road Trip
11 Travel Blog Sites Ottsworld Travel Experiences Inn the Kitchen
12 Nerd’s Eye View Vagabonish Trains on the Brain
13 Jaunted Travel Blog Exchange Andy Hayes
14 The Planet D foXnoMad Wild About Travel
15 Vacation Gals Hotel Chatter Brendan’s Adventures
16 The Cranky Flier Jaunted yTravelBlog
17 Brave New Traveler My Itchy Travel Feet Fine Homes Las Vegas
18 Vagabonding My Melange Where is Jenny
19 foXnoMad 501 Places Mobile Lawyer
20 Ottsworld Travel Experiences Nerd’s Eye View Celebrated Experiences
21 Travel Wonders of the World Hole in the Donut Travel Dudes
22 Wander Mom Elliott The Carey Adventures
23 Indie Travel Podcast The Cranky Flier The Quirky Traveler
24 Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals Europe A La Carte
25 Wandering Educators Wandering Educators Bacon is Magic
26 Travellers Point Inside the Travel Lab ZipSetGo
27 Uncornered Market Boarding Area Miss Adventures
28 Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Mother of All Trips Velvet Escape
29 Travel Blogs Indie Travel Podcast Malaysia Asia
30 Ciao Bambino Travel Savvy Mom Chris Guillebeau
31 Top Travel Content – Europe Wanderlust & Lipstick Uncornered Market
32 Mother of All Trips Delicious Baby The Traveling Philosopher
33 Hotel Chatter A Traveler’s Library Two Backpackers
34 Upgrade: Travel Better Trip Base GranToursimo!
35 Inside the Travel Lab Ciao Bambino Flying Photog
36 My Itchy Travel Feet Solo Friendly Ottsworld Travel Experiences
37 Perceptive Uptake Traveling Mom
38 Sharing Travel Experiences Wander Mom Adventure Girl
39 Europe A La Carte World Hum Sheila’s Guide
40 Hole in the Donut What a Trip The Longest Way Home
41 Travel Savvy Mom Top Travel Content – Europe Eurapart
42 GranToursimo! Travel Wonders of the World Hotel PR Guy
43 Boarding Area Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals
44 My Melange Upgrade: Travel Better Tiffany Travels
45 Vagabonish Travel Blogs Travel Blog Exchange
46 What a Trip Travellers Point Beth Blair
47 Travel Dudes Travel Blog Sites Luxury Travel Mom
48 Solo Friendly Vagabonding Travel Writer
49 501 Places Perceptive foXnoMad
50 A Traveler’s Library Sharing Travel Experiences Brooke vs. the World

Clearly the degree of online influence varies vastly depending on the metric used to rank it (social networks vs blog power). For example, EarthXplorer is extremely ‘influential’ when it comes to Klout but does not even rank as a top blog. Oppositely, Uptake is quite influential when it comes to blogging but less active or influential on Klout. Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site is pretty much influential across both realms and well respected among the most influential bloggers as is Gadling. What does this all mean?

Well, for now, influence is in the eye of the beholder, or measurer perhaps, and you need to take note of the metrics used to measure influence before you accept any list of the top 50 anything. The most influential bloggers are not necessarily the most influential in the social media realm and vice versa, particularly as narrow into specific topics as expertise varies. A list of “the top online influencers” based on Klout may leave out influential bloggers, who, as mentioned, have long been considered the most influential members of online communities. Gaining respect as a blogger is a lot harder than gaining Twitter influence (we all know that many very powerful people on Twitter are uber chatty with big numbers but don’t have real influence) and considerable influence on the blogs does not come quickly or easily. With the ever-increasing power of the social networks AND the ongoing importance of bloggers, a good strategy is to look across networks, especially if a brand navigates inside niche markets.

Ultimately, influence comes from one’s ability to draw people into a conversation AND hold them there. Influence means one’s blogs or tweets or Facebook posts are shared and re-shared throughout the online world. Influence creates action towards a person or a brand and has the power to create effect. So how influential are you?

What are your thoughts on measuring online influence in light of the growing power of the social networks?

Katie

With thanks to webtreatsVrmpX, johnrawlinson, and quinn.anya for the images.

*From Klout scores on December 15, 2010

** From Influencers in Travel’s December 16th, 2010 list





Cooks, Crooks and Social Media Ethics

17 11 2010

Like most people, I was taught as a young child that cheating is wrong and that you don’t want to do wrong things.  In those days, cheating was clear: you didn’t look at other people’s spelling tests, you didn’t “collaborate” on individual homework and you didn’t claim someone else’s work as your own.  Most schools and universities have their own specific definitions for academic integrity and what counts as plagiarism, and crossing those lines can lead to harsh ramifications.  It’s hoped by teachers and parents alike that these lessons in honesty translate to personal and professional practices as adults. However, we also live in a hyper-shareable ecosystem, where it’s never been so easy to reproduce and distribute content from others. In a field as unregulated as the internet, problems are bound to arise. But such actions still have consequences.

Recently, Cooks Source magazine felt the blazing anger of bloggers as they crowded around in defense of Monica Gaudio, whose article about apple pie had been reproduced without her

knowledge or consent. In the storm of nasty emails and facebook messages, there were many rumor stories flying about, but two facts that surfaced remain relatively unchallenged:

1. The editor of Cooks Source didn’t believe that they had done anything wrong.

2. This was not an isolated incident of “borrowing”.

In my mind, this seems like a clear case of plagiarism.  Gaudio had not given her permission for her work to be reprinted and Cooks Source acknowledged that they knew it was her uncompensated work.  But it’s rare that cheating scandals are so black and white. If getting permission from and compensating bloggers for their articles is at one end of the spectrum and this recent incident with Cooks Source is at the far other end of the spectrum, where does one draw the line? In the context of online blogs and communities, where does cheating actually begin (or even end)?

Most of the time, it can be assumed that works that have the author’s consent and are properly attributed, are okay.  It’s also commonly accepted to link out to other sites in the body of a blog (in fact, the blogger’s code of ethics demands it). What if I find an interesting article and post a link to it on my website or facebook page because I believe that my readers would find it interesting?  Since the link would take you to the original posting which would clearly delineate it as content from that other site, that is also going to be okay.  Many bloggers also offer a specific link for you to use when you want to trackback to a certain entry. Okay, but then what about tools like paper.li which drags twitter, looking for the most disseminated articles and then shapes it into a familiar format?  Is that an abuse of information gathering or not? The more you explore, the more gray areas you uncover. There are a thousand different potential situations, but content ownership and authorial rights must be taken seriously.

This is not a new issue, but one that has gained even more importance over the last few weeks.  Most people don’t want to do something that is wrong and get angry when they find out about shortcuts that were taken by others, as can be seen by the sanctioning of Cooks Source by the blogging community.  It’s apparent that even after posting an apology and taking down their Facebook page, Cooks Source may never really move beyond this plagiarism scandal. (If you’re interested in seeing the massacre that was their Facebook page, there are a number of saved screen snapshots in Google images.) So how to avoid such difficult situations?

1. Make sure you know that your practices are on the up and up by reviewing the copyright laws.

2. If you are afraid that your content may not be safe, set up a Google Alert to help you find places where your name and keywords are popping up.

3. If you’re a blogger, review the sites suggested by O’Reilly a few years ago as examples of appropriate professional behavior online.

4. Finally, no matter who you are, writer, editor or reader, practice digital literacy and seek, evaluate and credit the original source.

So tell me, where and how do you draw the line when sharing online content?

Thanks to ilovebutter and quinnanya for use of their images.

~Laura





Wineries & Social Media Part 1: David moves faster than Goliath … again.

29 09 2010

With harvest season under way in much of wine country, it seemed an appropriate time to check out the presence of the broader U.S. wine industry on various social networks and examine how social media is being used by various levels of the industry. Blogging, the backbone of any social media program, became a favored tool among wineries, wine critics and wine enthusiasts far before social networks became a powerful tool for reaching a brand’s community (we recently looked at the most influential wine bloggers attending the Wala Wala Conference). For this blog however, I set out to compare how large wineries & vineyards with substantial marketing budgets and brand recognition and small wineries & vineyards looking to establish a brand are utilizing social media beyond just the blogosphere. I stumbled across the Chandon Escape contest last spring, a highly marketed and polished contest driven by social media where entrants earned more chances to win by becoming a Fan of the Chandon Facebook page and each time they tweeted the contest hashtag. Having observed this event and being familiar with the vast marketing budgets that the country’s largest wineries are working with, I expected to see the top wine companies and their brands with highly developed social media strategies and a broad presence across the networks. I was wrong.

There are thousands of vineyards and wineries throughout the US ranging in size, distribution and personality, and their media usage is just as diverse. As I mentioned, I expected the brands from the largest wine companies to have highly polished social media pages with sophisticated campaigns. Instead, I found them largely absent from the social networks with the lower ¾ (in terms of production) of the wineries & vineyards dominating the social media sphere. Wine makers are also utilizing social media for more than just customer outreach and expanding their brand recognition. We’ll be doing a three-part series on wineries and social media, taking a look at how both large and small wineries are working with social media, as well as how social networks are for more than just reaching customers. Part 1:

With the exception of a few brands for example, namely producers of bubbly like Korbel and Chandon, the largest of the large wineries & vineyards have a very small social media presence. Using this list and these profiles, I identified the top wineries in the US. The largest companies like E&J Gallo, Constellation Wines, The Wine Group, Bronco Wine Company & Robert Mondavi produce many of the country’s most well known wine brands but have largely ignored social media as a tool to engage their communities. Most of the companies’ brands have either no social media presence at all or host Facebook pages on which they are minimally active. This is not so unusual. Indeed, in our experience, the larger the company, the less comfortable they are entering the social media sphere. Nevertheless, for products where there is widespread passion like the wine industry, we expected to see more social media use.

In contrast, other large wineries that rank at the lower end of the top US wineries lists are embracing social media and getting recognized for it. Rick Bakas and St. Supery are receiving widespread attention (from the New York Times to Reuters) for running a strong social media program that includes a blog, active Facebook page, one of the strongest Twitter programs for a winery and an virtual & interactive wine tasting program. Although lacking a key component of a social media program – a blog – Wente Vineyards also stands out for their Facebook and Twitter activities. Many other wineries of this size can be found with an active social media program including (but not at all limited to) Dry Creek Vineyard, Murphy-Goode Winery, and J. Lohr. Aside from St. Supery and Wente, these larger wineries using social media are finding general success with the platforms by posting and engaging their Facebook & Twitter communities on a regular basis and hosting a blog (albeit the blogs are often under-utilized) but there is much room for improvement in expanding brand recognition, reaching new customers and utilizing the true networking powers of the social networking platforms.

So far, a very mixed bag for the largest US wineries in terms of their social media use. Some are knocking it out of the ballpark; some haven’t even heard the train coming. What are your thoughts on why the largest wineries are largely ignoring social media? Which large wineries have you seen doing great stuff with social media?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

With thanks to Big D2112, dr_XeNo and quinn.anya for the photos.

Katie

_____________________

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Blogger Conferences 2010

20 09 2010

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about conferences and conventions for bloggers.  After all, the International Food Blogger Conference took place a few weeks ago in Seattle, BlogHer 2010 was a couple weeks before that at the beginning of August and  SOBCon Colorado was just this past weekend.  Whether you cringe at the thought of going to a conference or you love to get out from behind the computer and meet other bloggers in the industry, it’s important to recognize when these meetings are happening.  Whenever influential individuals in a community meet to discuss and connect, you can expect things to shift, people to try out new ideas, positions to be challenged and considered.  It’s always interesting to see which ideas planted during conference discussions can bloom out throughout the community at large, leading to some great and innovative blog entries.  However, it can be painstaking to try and keep track of which conferences are drawing near, especially as we begin to look forward to the holiday season (yep, I said it!).  We’ve taken the work out of knowing conference dates by composing this neat little list of those that are happening between now and the end of the year.  While we tried to stick to conferences that are happening domestically, one or two international conferences were snuck in there as well.

September:

24-26 Type-A Mom Conference

25  Camp Blogaway – Baldwin Park

30 Social Media Club: “Social Media & Family”

October

8-9 BlogHer Food Conference

8-10 Blogalicious Weekend

14-16  BlogWorld Expo

21-24 Revelvant Conference

22-24 European Wine Bloggers Conference

23 Bloggy Boot Camp-Austin

23 Show Me The Blog

25 Camp Blogaway

November

5-7 Global Getaway

5-7 Beer Bloggers Conference

5-7 I_Blog Conference

10-12  Social Media University

12-14 International Natural Food and Health Conference

13 Bloggy Boot Camp-St. George

December

4 WordCamp

10-12 Lavish!

These are all the conferences happening in the next few months, as far as I was able to find.  It is likely that those signed up for the first conference mentioned above will be especially appreciative of the list format and those who are organizing the final one will not be best pleased to be referred to as a conference, as they are branding their experience as an “unconference.”  Still, these are meetings to be aware of and to join into, if you’re so inclined.  While many of the conferences slotted to happen within the next several weeks are already sold out, a number of those also have waiting lists or ticket exchange forums. The conferences further down on the list are also still accepting new participants.

So if you’re a frequent conference go-er, share some of your experiences with us!  What kind of advice would you give to a newcomer?  Which conferences have been your favorite?  What moves a conference up in your esteem?  Are there any other conferences that should have made it onto our list? Finally, does anyone know of a conference using Plancast.com? If you do, let us know!

Thanks to rickbucich and alexdecarvalho for the blogger conference pictures!

~Laura

Kick off or take your PR 2.0 program to the next level. Contact us here.





A Baker’s Dozen of the Best Food Blogs

1 07 2010

The blogosphere has communities for just about every interest group: golf aficionados, animal lovers, wine enthusiasts….if you can name it, there’s at least a couple hundred related blogs about it.  Even understanding that there is an online place for everyone, there is one community so massive that it has garnered books, a movie and thousands of blogs.  Not only is this a large community, but it is a very active one with much updating, in-linking, collaboration and commenting.  What makes this group so large and dynamic?

Well, I have a theory.  Social media offers the opportunity for people to connect with others and to build online relationships.  Offline, people often gather, bond and connect over food (think about family Thanksgivings, work dinners and friends all pitching in for pizza).  It’s really no surprise that these two activities have found and fallen in love with each other in the food blogging community.  After all, food is a universal: everybody eats. As 17andbaking says, “it seems to me that one of the most important things about being alive is, well, food.”  Not only is food something that complete strangers can discuss with ease and understanding, cooking is a creative and productive outlet.  While good cooking requires a certain skill set, anyone can choose to engage in the activity itself with only basic understanding and minimal equipment (although, as any twenty-something newly on their own will tell you, you may not want to eat the end result!).

In the midst of innumerable blogs by great home chefs and bakers, why does one blog get hundreds of comments per post, and another go unacknowledged for what are (probably) delicious recipes?  To answer this question, I took a tour through the top twelve food blogs (based on number of in-links) and came up with a list of five criteria that these blogs all have in common. Note: I skipped over some sites that are more accurately labeled as magazines rather than blogs.

1.     Good food. This one should be a given.  Inspired, delicious food with recipes that people want to replicate in their own kitchen.

2.     Clear and abundant pictures. The photography of food blogging is stunning.  Many times the images have a Pavlovian effect upon the audience, demanding an attempt of the recipe be planned even before the entry has been read.

3.     Well-written. Although blogs are essentially online diaries, there is no place at the top for a blog author who cannot write.

4.     Life/food intersection. These top blogs not only provides a recipe, but context.  Often, it is discussed why a certain recipe (old family favorite or an attempted replication of a restaurant dish recently eaten) or a particular ingredient (strange cravings or seasonal choices) are chosen.  The way life leads us to food and food connects to the rest of our life is examined and celebrated.

5.     Personality. Each of these bloggers reveals distinct traits and offers sneak peeks into their lives, sharing heartwarming stories or wry and funny anecdotes.  These blogs come alive with the characteristics of the writer/cook and woo the audience into friendship.

From these five ingredients rises incredible food blogs with devoted followings. Don’t believe it can be that simple?  Check out our top 12 food bloggers and see for yourself!

1.     101 Cookbooks

2.     Smitten Kitchen (This site is one of my favorites.  I made her Chocolate Mousse for our Ladies’ Night dessert this week and it was sumptious!)

3.     Chocolate & Zucchini

4.     David Lebovitz

5.     Orangette

6.     Simply Recipes

7.     delicious:days

8.     Kalyns Kitchen

9.      Becks & Posh (although this site hasn’t been updated in quite awhile, the number of references still pointing back to it speaks volumes and keeps it in the top twelve)

10.  The Amateur Gourmet

11. Cream Puffs in Venice

12.  The Pioneer Woman (there is a relatively simple chocolate cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman that puts all other chocolate cakes to shame. Do you have a birthday, holiday or weekday coming up?  Make this cake.  You will be glad you did.)

And because more is better when it comes to delectable food blogs, I’ll throw in my personal favorite, Joy the Baker, to make our list an even baker’s dozen.  All thirteen of these blogs illustrate the five characteristics mentioned above (and some more). Who else would you add to this list/recommend?

Are there any other traits that you believe are necessary for a certain food blog to rise above the rest?

Thanks to JSmith, Anonymous and Mr T in DC for use of their images!

~Laura








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