June 7, 2008 Phil

Blogging goes Mainstream

There are over 24 million bloggers in North America. Approximately 14% of Internet users have blogs. According to eMarketer, this number is growing and is on track to reach 35 million over the next 4 years. As more people move online to tell stories and express their opinions more marketers attempt to capitalize on the growing blogger population. In 2007 the US online blog advertising rung in at about 283 million. With the growth in social media and blogging it is expected this figure will triple over the next 4 years. So as a marketer, blogs definitely have my attention.

About 10 years ago I was involved in the snowboard industry working for a guy by the name of Tom Sims. In 1998 Tom was at the forefront of snowboarding and is to this day, seen as one of the inventors of the sport along with Jake Burton. Tom was and remains a hardcore snowboarder who is an iconic in snowboarding culture. Although, Tom didn’t make it as big as his buddy Burton, he did pioneer the “cool factor” in that industry.

In 1998 when snowboarding was a bit of a cult I remember having a beer with Tom and discussing the future of the snowboarding business. At that time the majority of boarders thought snowboarding wasn’t meant for mainstream. They felt it was a culture that they owned and needed to be protected from commercialization. Although, Tom at the time was the God of this culture, he knew that over the next 10 years snowboarding would shape the fashion world. He understood that there was a tipping point on the horizon. He knew that the masses would eventually shape his culture and make it mainstream.

Bloggers seem to be living is a similar culture these days. There are hardcore Techies who have been blogging for the past 6-8 years. They think all the new guys on the block are just “posers” and don’t really get the true culture of blogging. And they maybe right, but as Tom learned and Jake Burton banked on, you cannot underestimate the power of the masses. Especially if the masses are young and they think the culture is “cool”.

A recent eMarketer report shows that in the US 35% of youth between the ages of 13-24 are creating personal content (i.e. Blogging, commenting etc.). Over 50% read blogs on a regular basis. 71% of them watch or read user generated content online. As with all cultural shifts, boarding or blogging, there is that point where they become mainstream. When they build enough critical mass to be relevant to everyone. Experience shows that these changes are quite often driven by youth. Blogging is at that point, it is going mainstream and the Techies better look out because there is a culture shock in-store as the masses move in on their territory and change the landscape!

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