Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FOC09 - Blogging Networks

A few tasks to complete this week, firstly to have an understanding of what blogosphere is and blogging networks and then to make contact with a member of a blogging network to see if they would benefit from facilitation services. Interestingly, before I even started to look at blogging networks, I had read that blogging has become a 'little old hat' in comparison to Facebook, Twitter or having a MySpace page, but then I also read that blogging remains one of the most effective ways to brand a business online, so there must be merit. Could this also be just part of technology, where we quickly move from one technology to another. Some of the key points that I have picked up from "bloggers" is that you need to ensure that you post regularly to your blog, post from experience, define your context, write well and use a clean design. Although there may be many more key pointers, these are a good starting point.

I think a Blogosphere is a site which lists blogs relating to a particular topic or theme, really a centralised point of reference for a particular subject. People that contribute form an online community within this network. Within the See Also section from the Wikipedia entry for Blogosphere there was a link to the New Zealand Blogosphere Tumeke!. This represents an online community which seems to concentrate on New Zealand politics and society in general. When I checked out the site it was crowded and confusing, the layout daunting and to be honest I really did not want to explore it further.

So onto the next task – finding a blogging network. I decided that I would start my search with some of the blogs that I follow to see if they were part of a wider blogging network. I follow a number of blogs associated with the hotel/tourism industry as part of my professional role in teaching hotel management, as well as my personal keen interest of hotels and travel.

Five Star Alliance have two blogs The Informed Traveler (which looks at upscale hotels which I follow) and also Upscale Travel (the travel side). I sent them a message via their “contact us” page and got a near immediate response from them (I was probably not expecting this after my luck with online forums). Although these blogs may not necessarily fit exactly with a blogging network, I presume that they all have to start somewhere. They use contract employees or staff employees of Five Star Alliance as blog contributors. The blog supports the Five Star Alliance site, which is made up of hotels that they work closely (promote bookings) and therefore they said that they try to balance out the content with information that is pertinent of the luxury traveller with a focus on the hotels they promote. Their editor handles all the moderation on the site when users make comments. As it is not a large network they did not see the value in facilitation.

Another blog that I follow is Upgrade: Travel Better. I did not know before this part of the course work that they were actually part of a wider blogging network or community called Trusted Travel Blogs. There are 25 listed blogs and they state that it is a ‘community project’ and ‘user monitored’. They state that their members “love reading and writing travel blogs and hope the keep the community fresh and clean”. They have two primary things in common:

  1. they're recognized for consistently high publishing standards and
  2. their content is not influenced by undisclosed affiliations with third parties.

Again, like the activity that we were required to do for the online forum, it is quite hard to make contact with someone…. Still working on that part for the above network.

Although I have not received a definite answer whether or not blogging networks should have a facilitator, I think it is important to remember that blogs are people’s ideas and opinions and are not necessarily the way that everyone has to think. Yet, saying that, if you are going to say something in an open forum, then you have to be ready to have your view points challenged by other members. Within some networks there may be some guidelines (similar to closed forums) of membership regulations. Over the past few weeks, I have seen that blogging networks and online forums are thriving in many different ways.

6 comments:

  1. It's just dawned on me...better late than never...you should also have a look at the blogging network/community that is linked around the Lonely Planet. There's a huge community there. Matthew Cashmore would be a person you could talk to about this: http://lplabs.com/

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  2. Rachel great to see you moving through this network systematically.
    Have you looked at the Siemesn's link Sarah gave us? he is convinced that blogs gicve more indepth info that e-mail groups could do, BUT your blogs are really advertising materials. I wonder what difference that makes.
    Willie

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  3. Hi Willie, in what way do you mean blogs are advertising materials? Can you expand? cheers Sarah

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  4. Although they may be viewed as "advertising' for hotel companies (and other related travel/hospitality organisations) I don't think that necessarily negates them from being a blogging network. I think as discussed at the group meeting on Wednesday, that there is this difference between more formal and informal blogging networks. I was interested in finding whether the hotel industry was embracing this form of network. Will check out the link Willie - but may have to wait for a little while - off on holiday on Saturday!

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  5. I had a quick look at some of the blogs the "Travel Blogroll" point to - I can imagine it'd take deep immersion in the blogs to know if this is a list or actually a network where people talk to each other - I'm wondering if you have seen any evidence of this?

    What I liked about a couple of the blogs I looked at was the personality, irreverence and independent point of view. I wasn't so interested in the posts where it seemed more like advertorials, but that's my taste I guess.

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  6. This is fascinating.
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