‘Blogging is dead’ is a phrase that pops up every now and then. It became more frequently discussed topic with the rise of social networks but Drizzlin Media’s report on the state of Indian Blogosphere, proves it wrong. However, it also showcased some other findings such as challenges associated with finding quality content continuously, blogger communities losing their objective, brand recognition is still evolving in India, etc. These findings were the result of Drizzlin’s interaction with 32 Indian bloggers representing the popular genres. The report is worth reading but as a blogger myself, I was intrigued to find out more.
1. Hi Robin! good to have you here. Can you share your story with Drizzlin Media?
We started off as the social media arm of Webchutney in 2008. For us social media was all about communication. Your communication objectives define what mediums to use rather than the other way round. We worked with brands across verticals, consulting and executing projects in the social media space. We were always conscious and still continue to be of the balance that has tilted in favour of the consumer with the onset of the Internet. As such, as much as Engagement is a strong vertical, Research continues to be strong methods of understanding what exactly are the stakeholders saying.
As business and appreciation for our approach grew, we eventually branched out and became an independent company on our own. We’ve only grown since then and have gone global with representation in 7 key markets across the globe.
Within India as well, we continue to deepen our understanding of the space to offer solutions which make sense to both the brand and the consumer of the brand.
Personally, I have been associated with Drizzlin since inception, effectively 3.5 years but have remained passionate about the online conversation space for over 11 years now.
2. Drizzlin Media published a new report on the Indian Blogosphere recently. What motivated you to go for it?
For a while now, we had been observing a paradigm shift in the manner content is being created and consumed online with newer platforms and content formats emerging. We were keen to understand how this transition impacts the traditional concept of a ‘blog’ as we understood it. How does this space evolve to the next level?
To get to these aspects, we realized we had to have a better understanding of the space within which bloggers function, essentially the eco-system that has a bearing on the scale and scope of this medium.
3. You have interviewed 30 bloggers. What were the parameters that you set for approaching a blogger and can you share a few of the major findings of this report?
Two things were of paramount importance. One to ensure we were targeting bloggers from different genres, as we also wanted to understand challenges and opportunities specific to individual genres. Additionally we did try and reach out to bloggers who have been blogging for varying time periods. To understand the varying motivating factors that encourages people to adopt this medium.
Through the course of the interviews, there were very interesting aspects we came across-
- Social Networking does not mark the demise of blogs, most believed that it only enhances reach.
- Surprisingly, majority of the bloggers rate themselves as bad or average on content quality. Lowest quality rating observed in technology genre.
- These however are representative of the lack of a good and viable support infrastructure within which blogging seems to be taking shape-
- Limited opportunities to monetize, lack of technological and legal support infrastructure.
4. Being active on Blogs with quality content has been the challenge for most bloggers. What are your thoughts in coping up with these challenges?
The challenges enumerated through the course of these interviews, were challenges which emerged due external factors impacting the Blogosphere such as the lack of a legal support framework that checks plagiarism, lack of monetization opportunities, limited reach due to a lower penetration rate etc.
These challenges are definitely structural in nature and would perhaps be addressed overtime as this medium evolves. However, we did realise that the role played by local blogger communities and outfits could perhaps be extended a lot more to tackle some of these issues overtime. What clearly emerged was a lack of a community based agenda to address these aspects to begin with.
5. On a personal note, I have seen most of the Indian brands interested to engage on Facebook page but avoid a blog. What could be the reasons behind this and what are they missing out on?
I think the focus is extremely platform centric due to the growth ‘Facebook’ has seen as a platform overtime. From a marketing stand-point, it is a pure numbers game, with a potentially wider audience base on Facebook than individual blogs, so to say.
However the approach is myopic as limiting your presence to any platform does not provide you a complete spread. Why just blogs alone? There are so many genre specific forums, communities, websites which are now thriving and potential places for you to engage with your audience, build sustainable relationships.
A lack of an integrated approach would simply mean that they are missing out on a wider reach and on opportunities to engage with their audience across portals.
A very basic example is if I’m out there to buy a laptop, I’m not necessarily looking for answers on Facebook, I would search across the web, chance upon these very blogs and forums which may help me arrive at a decision. Yes, it definitely does help have an active branded presence on networks like Facebook, however that is just one aspect of your strategy online.
6. However with social networks, sharing has reached great heights but don’t you think with those little ‘like’ and ‘tweet’ buttons, commenting on blogs has minimized?
There is one perspective which would look at these sharing options as mere extensions of a blog thereby only enhancing reach. The level of engagement on a specific platform may be going down, however the integration of social networks with blogs has only encouraged the culture of hyper-sharing a lot more. However this cannot be taken as a given for all blogs, an interesting find for us also was that many prominent bloggers like Jai-Arjun or Great Bong continue to get traction on their ‘blogs’ irrespective.
7. Finally, being passionate bloggers we think this space will evolve with time. How do you see the road ahead especially for Indian bloggers?
What we’ve concluded basis the research was that the potential for this space lies in two aspects. First one is around the opportunities for these blogs to scale to the next level, encompassing wider coverage and depth of content matter etc. This becomes important if we’re ever to envision blogs as entities which are truly iconic. We feel we have not really scaled to a level where we can draw a comparison with the best practices around the world. This is as far as professional blogs go.
Within the domain of niche and personal blogs, the consensus established was that they do provide for interesting and alternative content and there is always scope to explore more. For e.g. I feel the growth of vernacular blogs will be interesting to watch in the coming years.
Thanks Robin for expressing your views. Drizzlin’s effort is commendable and goes on to prove that blogging will only evolve in the coming years along with existing social networks. However, the onus lies with the blogger community. What are your thoughts?