Tuesday, April 21

Squeezing SM Pros: Bloggers And Celebrities

According to Mark Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne, writing for The Wall Street Journal, the concept that blogging is passing fad might finally be put to rest. The United States is a nation with more than 20 million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, and 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income, he writes.

"Pros who work for companies are typically paid $45,000 to $90,000 a year for their blogging," he wrote. "One percent make over $200,000. And they report long hours -- 50 to 60 hours a week."

Beyond the stats, demographics, and several key observations, there is something else that these numbers might mean. Not only is social media mainstream, it's changing and some of the old guard leaders are being supplanted by newcomers.

In some cases, reasonably well-paid professionals that blog, tweet, and chat across the Internet have outpaced early adapters with brand boosts from big companies. While it always happened before (one wonders if there would be Scoble without a Microsoft or a Kawasaki without an Apple), the brand boosts are starting to come from smaller and much more traditional companies. (We predicted it was inevitable several years ago.)

At the same time, coupled with the addition of celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher on Twitter, several social media types that used to lead the way say they feel like part of the crowd. Leo Laporte even said with only 100,000 followers, he could go back to being a normal Joe. It almost begs the question. When wasn't Laporte a normal Joe?

In a recent interview, Kutcher revealed his secret. Despite the billboards and already high number of followers, he just wants to be a normal Joe connecting with people using an online message service. And you know what? That's pretty much what he does. He is not alone either.

So, as some top social media pros eventually find themselves as part of a shrinking middle between a growing number newcomers and celebrities at the top, it seems to me the best advice isn't to call new folks carpetbaggers as much as it might be to welcome them along. I've seen several thousands of bloggers rise and disappear over the years; the good ones always stick around without labeling others simply for fear of giving up turf. There is no turf online, except the astro kind.

Equally important, having managed several hefty brands over the years, I always known that brands provide amazing boosts for individuals. Big deal. It's better not to worry about positive brand associations as much as your ability to be true to your company, your client, or yourself (depending on why you spend your time online). That's not online advice; it's advice for life.



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