5 Blogs Winning The Numbers Game Vs. Traditional Counterparts

This post isn’t meant as a kick at traditional media – what I want to show you today is how the playing field is now level for all people who want to have a say in our world.  This is an exciting time for everyone involved in the media industry.  In fact it has been like this for awhile, but it is worth reiterating.

Even with everything else that is happening around us (down economy, newspaper layoffs) you do have to look around in awe at the communications revolution we are living through.  At no time in history have individuals and organizations been on such equal footing.

Despite what area of communications you are involved in, you have to admit this democratization of media is a positive for society itself.  Even if a few people are hurt short term, we must look at what is going on from a long term perspective and embrace the changing world around us and the possibilities it brings.

Some trends the web has enabled:

  • Individuals, even relative unknowns can be more compelling than media brands
  • A small group of writers or even one talented writer can potentially generate more buzz and influence than an entire staff
  • Reputation is far more important than attention
  • There is even greater trust between a blogger and his/her longtime readers than a magazine and their longtime readers (I will stand by this one personally – I have reached out to and built great relationships with several bloggers I admire, and they were all eager to interact with me as well…historically traditional journalists have not been as accessible)
  • Interaction and community building are equally as important as content
  • Media has evolved into a multi-directional channel

With these trends in mind, I would like to show you 5 blogs winning the numbers game vs. their traditional counterparts and one traditional media outlet that has continuously modernized and is winning against the most popular blog in their niche.

Blogs winning the numbers game

All blogs are represented in blue, traditional media organizations in red and green (numbers courtesy of Compete.com)

Gadgets and robotics:  Gizmodo.com vs. PopularMechanics.com:

Gossip/pop culture/celebrities:  PerezHilton.com vs CosmoGirl.com

Video GamesKotaku.com vs. PCGamer.com and GameInformer.com

Public Relations:  MicroPersuasion.com vs. PRWeekus.com

Design:  SmashingMagazine.com vs. HowDesign.com and ArtistsNetwork.com

And a traditional media outlet (that’s not so traditional) winning the numbers game

Wired has evolved their publication into a web powerhouse and has more traffic than the most influential tech blog, TechCrunch.

Obviously there is much more to the story than the raw numbers, but I know many out there are very much numbers people so this is a way to open up the conversation in a way that everyone understands.

Just a few elements that play a role in these numbers

Content on the web is social, and that is something each and every one of these bloggers knows and understands deeply.  There is completely equal footing here to those who develop content products that people are actually interested in and making it easily accessible and simple to share.

Removing content:  bloggers just don’t do it.  They know that removing content is the antithesis of how the web works.  Many magazines and newspaper websites remove old content as they add new, which makes others less likely to link to them (links are the lifeblood of the web, bringing traffic and a boost in Google).  It also ruins the long-tail potential for their sites.

Unclean URL structures:  Many magazines use URL structures that are a jumble – blogs use descriptive URL structures.  This matters for search, aesthetics and is the sign of a clean site architecture.

Design plays a major role here.  While many traditional media organizations have merely tried to duplicate the appearance of what their print publications looks like in a digital format, ultra popular bloggers put the content in the spotlight in a manner which is scanable, easily sharable, and in a format encouraging dialog between writer/reader and reader/reader.  The best blogs are cleanly presented and organized into logical categories with search functions that are actually useful.  From experience, the search functions on many traditional media websites are almost useless.

Subscription options via RSS and email on popular blogs are loud, clear and up front.  Not always so on traditional media websites.

Full RSS syndication: many blogs offer this, some do not – but almost no magazines offer this.  It is a huge plus for bloggers in my eyes.

Community:  blogs don’t just broadcast, they are conversations.  Magazines have the same opportunity here – the tools are democritized.  The web has evolved into a highly social platform – people want to interact with others involved with their passions (as a quick aside, Valeria at Conversation Agent has some great advice for Magazines interested in building a web community around their publication).

The future

We’re right in the middle of a huge shift in media that in my opinion has already gone through a round of maturation.  Certainly as we move forward, traditional media will take cues from what blogs have done right on the web, and the landscape will reach some sort of equilibrium.

Micromedia and lifestreaming/personal syndication technologies are already playing a role as well, and bloggers and on-the-edge media organizations are quick to integrate new social tools because they see the power of forging connections and letting their work be shared freely.

The media outlets — platform aside — that empower and connect their audiences, listen to what users want, and build community in useful ways are the ones that will be the future successes.

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