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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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





The Art of Engagement

23 11 2010

To engage (as per Merriam-Webster dictionary):

to attract and hold by influence and power; to interlock with, to mesh, to bind to something; to provide occupation for, to hold the attention of, to induce participation, to bring together, to deal with especially at length, to take part, to give attention to something.

Think about people who engage you in conversation. You know the ones – you could talk to them for hours, you share all sorts of things with them as they do with you, you build something together, you walk away feeling like you have come to ‘know’ something or someone. How do they do it? Is it their form? The things they share? Their energy? Their focus on you? Their sustained commitment to your relationship with them? Or is it all of the above?

More importantly, what can these kinds of conversational partners tell us about engaging through social media?

  • People engage with People. Yep. Real people. Not fake, phony, small talk, all about me people. People who are interested in you. People who ask ‘artful questions’ (the one question which you can talk on for 15 minutes). People who don’t spew forth facts about themselves. People who want to know you.
  • People engage with Those who Share Relevant Ideas. Important things. Interesting things. Things about life writ large. Things that speak to the common good/interest of all of us. Not about your dinner (unless you are a one of a kind, gourmet kitchen rogue a la Bourdain). Not about what your dog/kid/computer/avatar just did (unless they have one just like you).

The point is, there’s a difference between talking with people and talking at people, and brands are people or they should be. Multidimensional conversational partners. That’s what brands should be, just like people are. So let’s look at what counts as engagement in social media programs these days. As we review the various measurements, it’s worth asking yourself why, when the people we engage with are those who are interesting to and interested in YOU, our measurement systems are all based on what you’ve done for ME.  I understand that these are the only measures we have right now, but my question remains – what are we measuring?

If we look at the definition of ‘engaging’ above, there are obvious points of relation between the actions. They build on each other. Engagement is a process – a continuum, if you will – it requires sustained, evolving, reflective, inter-actions. Where can we see this process or continuum in our most common measures of social media engagement below (we need to look beyond these measures, by the way)?

1. Number of ‘views’ – Good work. Someone saw you.

2. Number of ‘blog subscriptions’, ‘fans or likes for a brand/page’, ‘twitter follows’, ‘LinkedIn follows’, ‘join a group’ – Better work. You’ve gotten someone’s attention and they want to hear more from you. They’ve cracked the door open for you – time to come up with something that will hold their attention now.

3. Number of ‘likes– What would be the conversational (read face to face conversation) equivalent of a hit on the facebook ‘like’ button? I’m going to say a nod, or a ‘hmm hmm’. It’s like saying, ‘right’, ‘sure’. How does it engage the other person? It demonstrates a form of agreement, perhaps reassurance, or a motion to continue the conversation. It basically says ‘I see you.’ or ‘I hear you.’ Perhaps even ‘I read you.’

4. Number of ‘shares’ (retweets, forwarded emails) – a level up from likes, this time your conversational partner is communicating that while they don’t have time to respond, they like and are willing to share your thought with others they know. That is, they are going to ‘pass it along’. Often called ‘word of mouth’, this is a form of engagement which exists indirectly because people are distributing your contribution to a larger community. It’s like when you come home and tell your roommate partner/kids/dog about a conversation you had with someone else. You know they might like it so you pass it on.

5. Number of comments in response Now we are beginning to see some level of quality engagement. To garner a comment to something you have shared, you’ve been relevant, interesting, and created a sense of togetherness with your conversational partner. So they take the time to respond to you. They share a thought of their own, an experience of their own, or even ask you another question. This is inter-action. Acting together.

So where does engagement lie?

I am going to say that the tool (read blog, facebook, twitter) matters not. I am also going to say that to some degree, the thought matters not. Why? Because engagement happens in inter-action. In the spaces between people using these tools to contribute, share, and respond to these thoughts. It’s a complex combination of providing a space, filling it with pieces and people that attract and hold the attention of others, getting to know them and then lubricating their interaction.

Artful engagement builds qualified leads, opinion leaders, and community centers. It’s important to know what you want before you start measuring actions. So next time you’re in a performance review as a social media or community manager, or even creating a job description or RFP for a social media agency or professional, consider what you think engagement is and what you want it to do for you. Then design the actions that will ‘count’ and not ‘count’ becuase everyone is doing it, but ‘count’ towards accomplishing your overall goal. Social media people are people people, after all.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving – remember to go and thank all those fans, friends, readers and lurkers in your social media space. They’ll ‘like’ you for it! 🙂

With appreciative thanks to onigiri-kun, cliff1066 and John Althouse Cohen for their beautiful art!

Kirsti, @kblucy





Sparkling feedback on #wbc10 blog influence rank- The sequel

13 07 2010

A few weeks ago, we did a study trying to understand and measure the influence of those going to the Wine Blogger Conference. Mindful as we are of conversation and fully cognizant of the fact that as soon as you include some people in a list, you by definition, exclude some, we not only set up criteria for measuring influence but also asked for feedback. In the course of this study (crunching, crunching) we had to make some decisions. If you are an online journal or aggregator for example, we decided that you were not playing in the same league/space as regular, independent (and sometimes solo) bloggers. Your influence is a sum of many factors and contributors, we look at a specific angle. 2 very interesting points were made in the comments regarding this distinction in the blogging community, and after mulling on it, we thought we’d like to continue the debate.

1 – Does influence have a threshold?

Bean from Wine-Beer Washington pointed out to us that he should have been included on this list, even though we had excluded him based on the number of writers on his blog (he looked like a journal). After feedback and looking at our threshold, we now feel that Bean should have been part of the list from the start (crunching, crunching). The wine-beer blog in our method of ranking for the #wbc10 would rank 21st out of the top 25 of our list. So here’s a question for everyone in the industry: Do you think there is a consolidation of bloggers toward journals or magazines? How viable is the independent blogger model? When does a blog become a journal? Thoughts?

2- The personal blog vs. the company/organizational blog.

Relatedly, something very interesting is happening in the use of personal branding to support a corporate or business strategy (c.f. Jeremiah Oywang and Forrester). When creating this study we used the official list of the registrants provided by WBC10. Rick Bakas’ blog appears under the St Supery blog. The blog didn’t make it to our list of Top 25 since he had registered his business blog and thanks to Rick’s feedback, we considered his own personal blog (even though not registered on the official list) as part of our list. Rick also advocated his own personal blog as being more influential than the list had suggested. After re-compiling our data (crunching, crunching), we are happy to report that Rick’s personal blog ranks actually 20th of the list originally created. So, another question for everyone: how do you manage your personal brand vs the business your represent?

These kinds of conversations really allow us to reflect on the state of a blogging community – how it grows, who grows it, its lifecycle if you will. Another point made in the comments on the original post was that many wine bloggers were not discussing the actual process of making wine and the industry’s evolution in this area (or not). So a final question for the community: Can anyone recommend any wine bloggers who focus on this part of the beloved grape’s journey?

We look forward to hearing from you!

@YannR @Extanz





Under the Influence?? The 25 Most Influential Wine Bloggers going to Walla Walla #WBC10

23 06 2010

Around Extanz, we follow the wine blogging community with enthusiasm; both as amateur connoisseurs and with an interest in how wineries themselves are utilizing blogging and social media to build their brands. These blogs are alight with chatter about the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington this weekend and we expect wineries to be paying attention to the blogging advice and social media guidance that comes out of this weekend’s many sessions and panels. Are you going to the Wine Bloggers Conference? Think you know who the most influential bloggers in attendance are? Our results may surprise you.

In Walla Walla, experts will be discussing how to increase the quality, visibility and influence of your wine blog, whether you’re someone with strong opinions on wine quality or you’re a winery looking to increase your brand awareness and customer base. There are a couple of basics for wineries to keep in mind that we imagine (or hope) you’ll hear over and over this weekend that will make your blog worth reading, a blog that people return to week after week, and a blog that other influencers take note of.

  1. Write for your audience. This may seem simple, but have you really looked at who your target audience is and considered what they would find useful, informative & entertaining?
  2. Focus outward. Simply writing about you or your business or your product does not good content make.
  3. Network and link it up. Get your blog out there, in front of the influencers and people to whom it would be interesting. This is where the use of social media can come in very handy.

So how do the conference experts that will be giving you insider knowledge to accomplish the above must-dos rank in the social media sphere? Let’s find out …

At Extanz we study influence, so we studied how the bloggers present in Walla Walla this year rank among each other in terms of influence (measured by in-links). We removed blogs that qualified as online magazines with multiple writers (Palate Press, Wine Business, Washington State Beer and Wine, and Mutineer Magazine) from the list so as to only rank independent bloggers. We also looked at their presence on Facebook and Twitter – not to gauge influence, but to get an idea of what social media tools influencers are finding useful. As we saw in the cycling community, Twitter is the social network of choice for wine bloggers as well.

Are the big names at the conference the top influencers of the wine blog community? Here are the Top 25 bloggers (of the 180 in attendance):

Blog Facebook ‘Likes’ (fans)/Friends Twitter Followers Twitter Following
1 1WineDude 1055 friends 4,139 2,893
2 Good Grape: A Wine Blog Manifesto 521 friends 2,697 2,943
3 Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine 125 members 1,533 1,386
4 Drink Nectar 2450 fans 2,673 2,665
5 Dirty South Wine 344 fans 3,841 3,455
6 Luscious Lushes 248 fans 3,200 3,405
7 Another Wine Blog 441 fans 1,615 1,538
8 Steve Heimoff | Wine Blog 1040 fans 663 160
9 Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog 2129 fans 1,989 1,698
10 Suburban Wino 323 fans 1,387 1,356
11 Cellarmistress’ Cellar Talk ? 1,929 1,598
12 Wine Tonite! 369 fans 2,667 2,298
13 Washington Wine Report 344 fans 1,373 1,219
14 Wine Biz Radio 1203 fans 6,088 2,051
15 BrixChicks ? 968 847
16 Vinotology Wine Blog 334 friends 1,711 1,543
17 PaulG’s Blog – Unfined & Unfiltered ? 468 282
18 RJ’s Wine Blog 351 friends 2,412 1,695
19 The Passionate Foodie 1071 friends 2,108 2,180
20 The Wine Whore 3409 friends 12,051 13,086
21 Notes From The Cellar 250 fans 806 245
22 Beyond the Bottle l Oregon Washington Wine Blog ? 535 376
23 Bricks of Wine 513 friends 1,792 936
24 The Wine Case ? 2,054 1,549
25 Seattle Wine Gal 4966 friends 7,302 6,622

Here are some questions for you:

  • What do you think of the results?
  • Which wine blogger(s) would you like to have been present at Walla Walla?
  • Regardless of ranking, who are you most looking forward to meeting or learning from this weekend?

With thanks to Chris g Collison, yashima, and Rob Winton for the images.

Salud!

SEE the follow up blog: https://extanz.com/2010/07/13/sparkling-feedback-on-wbc10-blog-influence-rank-the-sequel

Katie


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Slow food bloggers, Where art thou?

28 05 2010

Here at Extanz, we’ve cataloged thousands of food blogs and even contributed to a few ourselves. This particular sector of the blogging world is quite trendy – focusing on the hottest ingredients, techniques, restaurants etc. However, food bloggers seem to passing over an important trend (one even the First Lady is on board with) – that of eating locally & sustainably.

I’m a skier, but I’m also a foodie and an environmentalist. I cooked in high-end restaurants for years and love to experiment in my kitchen, my degree is in environmental policy, I eat organic/natural/free-range/grass-fed as much as I can (aka pay more than I can really afford). I also try to eat local – this proves slightly challenging in the winter given my location in Colorado and distaste for most root vegetables … but I do try. I’m much better at reading food blogs!

With all those food blogs out there and the growing popularity of the slow food (a movement with origins in Italy that emphasizes the importance of ‘good, clean and fair food’), local food and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) movements, you’d think there’d be quite a bit of related chatter on food blogs, right? Eating sustainably and healthy is a hot topic – Michelle Obama’s on to it, there’s books on it, been to a Whole Foods lately? It also produces far superior ingredients that should cause all us foodies to rejoice. I delved into the blogosphere to see which of these movements (if any) are trendy with the foodie bloggers. Here’s a snapshot of what I found (not quite the cornucopia I was looking for, btw):

  1. Of the thousands of blogs by influential food bloggers over the last 6 months, only 120 blogposts focus on slow food, local food or CSAs. Huh. I guess the mainstream food bloggers are still focusing on perfecting that bouillabaisse or the next big thing after cupcakes, rather than sourcing food locally and using the unique and fresh ingredients you get by doing so.
  2. While we hear about the slow food movement far more often than CSAs or local food across other mediums, the influencers in the blogosphere who are focusing on these 3 topics seem to be focusing more on the fundamentals of eating sustainably, namely CSAs and local food. A general Google search of the terms “slow food” and “Community Supported Agriculture” returns roughly the same number of results (~2.1 million). Of the entire food blogging community we’ve catalogued and are monitoring, the top 100 influencers have written about slow food 20 times in the last 6 months compared to 48 entries on CSAs and 52 conversations about local food.

So … who is talking about eating sustainably? Here are the top 3 blogs to follow for all things local, CSA-related, and slow food:

  1. Serious Eats: I ended up on this site last week while looking for a classic slice in NYC … little did I know it was the mecca for local food blogs. The three blogs below rank highest for our search terms, but peruse the entire site to satisfy your craving for slow food news.
    1. Carson Poole’s series on Meet Your Farmer and Meet Your Forager epitomizes influential bloggers focusing on local producers who feed the slow food movement.
    2. Caroline Cope of Umami Girl joins Serious Eats once a week for her Crisper Whisperer blog where she offers ideas for preparing your abundance of fruits and vegetables from your CSA or farmer’s market.
    3. Street Food Profiles travels around the country (and sometimes crosses borders) to feature local street food vendors where you can watch your food being made.
  2. SlashFood’s writers could independently support a CSA with the amount of CSA-sourced produce they’re cooking with.
  3. The Leftover Queen chronicles her efforts to use up her leftovers and healthy eating while focusing on sustainability, traditional foods, and seasonal eating.

Any ideas on why food bloggers are neglecting the sustainable eating movement when it provides them with some of the best food out there? I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, check out your farmer’s market this weekend to join the movement!

Katie

P.S. While writing this, a snapping turtle emerged from the woods for the first time this Spring which provided an appropriate photo for a slow food conversation … the slow part, not the food part.

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Influence & Industry, the many axes about building a community

13 05 2010

Writing this blog on influence and taking the cycling industry as an example has been great. I was really impressed with the level of feedback from everyone which you can read on the blog or on LinkedIn. I feel that putting some clarity on the discussion which followed was important. It’s certainly applicable to other industries.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Defining Influence: I was asked how I had defined influence in the context of this ranking. Influence in this day and age is crowd based (the crowd is a complex system of agents). I think no brand or agent should assume where influence is coming from or can be exercised from, except that each of us has a ‘home base’ — the blog — and using it as a base for influence is pretty fair. Bloggers who commented on this blog mostly see their influence directly tied with their readership and less a function of their relationship with other bloggers. We think that reference from other influencers is a very good benchmark. For many bloggers, blogging is an extension of their passion, more than a ‘business’ like a media outlet. Clearly most comments tended to agree that influence and topic specialty are very important. For most marketers, influence is solely what moves products into consumers hands. There is clearly a disconnect between both worlds which could be solved by the smarter brands. It’s a bit like both haven’t met each other yet… kinda.

Communities: Like influence, ‘community’ is an overused word that means many things to many people. The cycling blogsphere is highly networked and therefore constitutes a community. Bloggers know, refer to and influence each other. Communities come in many shapes, and form wherever you can find come CUTE (Common Unit of Transferable Experience).

The path of influence is not a straight line like marketers would like to believe. Web 2.0 has enabled the shift from Mass to Micro-influence to the disarray of the PR industry. Each of us and especially ‘creators’ of content, generate thought leadership according to our specialties. Traditional media used to be the middle man between marketers and consumers, but as we know, the internet tends to eliminate middlemen. The pipes used to be clear and choices were made for readers. It’s no longer this way and engaging the many layers of the community (consumers, industry groups, interests, influencers…) is the only way to gain mind share. Readers and consumers are now in the driving seat. Classic advertising is often too hard to measure

Passion drives: Most bloggers are doing this for pure passion and are aware of their influence from a reader’s perspective. They are very aware of a dedicated readership and clearly most of them understand traffic and how much they move.

Industry take: The discussions on LinkedIn were very interesting as well but here ‘influence’ was mostly understood as ‘how can it move product off the shelves’ vs. some thought leadership or experiential influence. Other thoughts were that some brands are actually pretty good at inbound marketing and community engagement. This was not taken into account in this study but very true and some clearly understand the power of ‘customer suction’ (Gregg Bagni) or what we refer as ‘Inbound Marketing’ when trying to explain brand’s social media strategy.

Professionalism: No doubt all of them are professionals (even if some wouldn’t want that qualifier) at what they do but in general, their ‘own brand’ is unclear as they probably haven’t intended to be where they are today. Blogging is a way of life. On the Branding side, only ~35% are actually using their own URL (http://brand.com) and not a subdomain (http://brand.blogspot.com) which to me is branding 101. Increasing influence may start with thinking more like a brand less like an individual. Funny also that Blogger is definitely the platform of choice vs. WordPress. A few are clearly are seeing themselves as a new media outlet are doing it well and using a wide range of tools to become ‘micro-journals’.

The changing media landscape: Some have jumped on Facebook but most haven’t. I agree that blogs are still more powerful than social platforms when it comes to moving traffic. For most cycling bloggers, it is both philosophical choice and mostly if they have the time to maintain another place for discussions. Some also are still confused about the difference between a ‘Personal page’ vs. a ‘Brand page’ (‘Like’) on Facebook, which makes sense since their personal brand is very close to the blog brand. Twitter on the other hand, is perfectly understood and used by most — it’s an extension of their blog.

All in all, I believe there is a great opportunity for more collaboration between the cycling industry and bloggers, as all pursue the same enjoyment for this industry. This is also an interesting blueprint for other communities we study.

What’s your take on influence? From Mass to Micro influence, where do you think we’re headed?

@YannR