Posted by: gavinstokes | May 20, 2011

Blogging at Work and the Corporate Attention Economy

This is a review of the Journal Article “Blogging at Work and the Corporate Attention Economy” by Yaradi, 2009.

What is it that motivates people to produce content for social media platforms such as blog’s, wiki’s, twitter and Youtube. According to Yaradi, 2009, et al, it is down to attention or the deeply ingrained social need of wanting to be recognised by ones peers. With this as the basis of the paper Yaradi, 2009, et al, set out to show this need to be a real and tangible thing and at the same time explain how this “Attention Economy” as they call it, is currently failing when transferred to most corporate social communities.
They do this through the capturing and analysis of large amounts of data from corporate servers using statistical information such as log files and server traffic, and linking this information through interviews with employees covering a wide age group and social demographic. These employees both publish to and interact with social media, available within the companies social media infrastructure.

Related Work
The related work that Yaradi, 2009, et al,  have used to support their idea is quite extensive and some of the articles are extremely detailed in the amount of data that’s been gathered and the extent to which it was analysed.

In (Kolari, 2007, et al) the structure and properties that make up corporate blogs are looked at in detail. This paper deals more with capturing the statistics of successful blogs such as tags, hits and the overall trending of new posts and blogs. While this information is invaluable it does not address the actual reasons for what makes a blog successful or why people blog.

In (Agarwal, 2008, et al) the paper looks more closely at the social issues in the blogosphere and why people place weight in other persons opinions. The paper tries to give clear reasons as to what makes an influential blogger, such as generating follow up activities, novel perspectives or ideas and eloquent writing. It looks more closely at the huge volume of traffic statistics and identifies that active bloggers are not necessarily influential and that quality of posts is a more important metric.

Finally in “Why we blog” although not as statistically detailed as the previous two papers, it focuses on the more personal issues as to why people actually invest time and energy in blogging. One of the key reasons altruism, is extremely relevant to the corporate blogosphere.

Core Issue
The core issue being addressed in Yaradi, 2009, et al paper is how to transfer the attention economy which exists in the external blogosphere to the corporate blogosphere and how the corporate blogosphere differs from the external blogosphere.

Yaradi, 2009, et al identify attention as a key resource, as it is needed to ensure blogs are successful within the organisation. They also show that an over abundance of information leads to a scarcity of attention just as easily as a lack of information will.

In the paper Yaradi, 2009, et al try to identify where corporate blogs break down, what are the key contributing factors and how these issues differ from issues on the social web.

Yaradi, 2009, et al clearly identify, and back up with statistics and one to one interviews, some of the factors which affect the attention economy in the corporate blogosphere. Certain bloggers felt that management buy-in was key for a successful blog where as some expected reciprocal reading and writing or large audiences When neither of these occurred it led to staff losing interest in blogging. Time was also clearly identified as a key constraint on readers and the issue of quality over quantity being a solution for this, or to target and guide blog readers attention to relevant material.

At the other end of the spectrum were those who expected very little from blogging and approached it from more of a targeted altruistic exercise. Here you had a group of people who continued to blog when neither of the most important metrics previously identified had been fulfilled.

Yaradi, 2009, et al paper is one of a growing many which are starting to look at how companies can derive benefits from social media. Although they cover in detail the statistics and metrics of what makes a successful blog I feel that they failed to get to the core of the issue which is what drives people to either read blogs or more importantly write them.

They touched briefly on it when they described the demographic of more mature workers that continue to blog even when they have extremely low, if any at all,  numbers of readers. Yaradi, 2009, et al failed to look at these in great detail, even though it was discussed in one of their supporting papers “Why we blog”.

This group would seem to blog for altruistic reasons such as the passing on of knowledge or the transfer of knowledge through open discussion.

I personally feel it is a key driver of social media and the web in general. It is something which if understood and channelled by companies could be extremely beneficial for general productivity, in area of knowledge capture  and would also help make staff feel more engaged with and a important part of a company

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