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The Problem with Blogger Lists

by Fadra Nally on August 28, 2012

Every time a top 100 Blogger List come out, I find a problem with it. And no, it’s not that I’m not on it. The problem is that they are subjective and subjectivity reigns supreme in the blogosphere.

Looking at tools like Klout or PeerIndex, everyone is trying to assign a score. They are trying to determine how to measure a blogger’s influence, and even worth, in the online space. So far, the results have been mixed. Klout has changed its algorithm several times and still provides a rather gray explanation of exactly how scores are determined:

“Klout measures influence online using data from your social networks. Anywhere you have an online presence, you have the opportunity to influence people by creating or sharing content that inspires actions such as likes, retweets, comments and more. The more engagement your posts receive, the more influential you are. Klout uses this information to provide you a Klout Score that measures your overall influence.” – Klout.com

How are likes, retweets, and comments measured? Is that really an indication of engagement? Or is it often simply amplification? Is there a difference? While I can appreciate the need for marketers and data crunchers to have a way to classify and organize online influencers, I haven’t yet seen the value that Klout is truly providing, except for silly comparisons between bloggers.

A score, however arbitrary, is still a measure. Everyone ranks somewhere, somehow. We may not like the ranking but we’re at least acknowledged for participating in the online space. The blogger lists are a little different. There are no algorithms. These are opinion polls.

The most prominent list out there in the mom blogging space is the Babble Top 100 Mom Blogs. The list grew from 50 in 2010 to 100 in 2011, a clear nod at the increase in bloggers in the space as well as the quality of the bloggers rising to the top. The process for determining the list changed as well:

“Our process evolved as well, drawing not only the recommendations of our panel, but also paying close attention to all of your nominees from last year. We rely on all of you to help us hear of the up-and-comers, the new debuts, and any other great blogger that isn’t already on our radar.” – Babble.com

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the link to the panelists was broken. But clearly, they are more in tune with the need for a crowd sourced list.

Then there are the other lists. Like the Global Top 100 Mommy Bloggers to Treat and Pamper of 2012.

This one has had a lot of discussion around it this week, mostly negative. While it was an entertaining read, it was one that offended many of these “mommy bloggers.” The author spouted some statistics once again proving the consumer power and influence of the American woman (I don’t actually think any of the bloggers on the list were outside of the United States, despite the “Global” tag used in the header).

Correction: I did see some of my favorite Canadians on the list.

But the offense was at the suggestion that bloggers are a cheap, if not free, channel of marketing and public relations for your company, a misnomer that many bloggers are fighting hard to correct. If I’m not mistaken, the author has since changed a lot of the text of the article since it was originally published to distinguish between amateur and professional bloggers. I call that backpedaling.

His recommended blogger strategies, however, weren’t what got me thinking about lists gone wrong. It was pretty much everything else.

Here’s what’s wrong with his list that should raise red flags before anyone offers congratulations and thanks.

1. Bad grammar

Incorrect or missing capitalization. Missing or misplaced apostrophes. Spelling errors. A professional list is professionally written and usually edited.

2. No methodology stated

So where’d you get these names? And why are they considered the top?  If it’s simply your opinion, that should be stated. And it should also be stated why your opinion matters on this subject (professionally speaking, of course). Based on the descriptors for each blogger, it’s assumed that this list is based off of Twitter in some way, shape, or form.

3. Inconsistent criteria

To recognize mom bloggers, they generally should fall into two categories:

They are moms.

They are bloggers.

Many of the people on the list are not moms, nor have they ever been moms. Perhaps it’s time to simply recognize women bloggers instead of letting their reproductive status define their blogging. Also, while sites like Babycenter, ModernMom.com, The SITS Girls all feature talented bloggers, this list is intended to focus on the individual blogger and not collaborative sites.

4. Bad math

This was absolutely my favorite part that no one else seemed to pick up on. A Top 100 list is generally assumed to include, well, 100 people. This list included 276 bloggers. If I do the math, that’s about 176 more than there should be. And I’m not just saying that because I’m number 217 on the list.

5. Questionable credibility

I’m not here to put down Robert Kim, the author of the post. I’ve read some of his posts. I watched some of his videos. He seems like a nice guy. He seems relatively intelligent. But he’s all about quick and easy traffic, and most likely, money. He knows how to create a talked about post (case in point). He knows how to drive traffic. He did a similar list for Event Management Companies and Event Planners.

But his blog has been active since June 2012 and when he’s not promoting his “viral posts” he’s hawking tea samples on his Twitter account. Nice try, Bob, but even this tea lover is not buying into your list.

What are your general thoughts on blogging lists? Do they have any validity out there for bloggers or brands? Do you only find them objectionable when you aren’t included? Let’s talk.

  • Sarah Pinnix

    This is a great post Fadra. That list was obviously done by a hack. But as someone who does blogger outreach, a list means nothing to me unless those bloggers actually have interest in my brand. It’s a good starting point. My advice to a marketer is to find your OWN list of bloggers who are influential in YOUR niche. They also have to have the right content standards. A Bible Company couldn’t legitimately use an atheist blogger to tout their new edition, even IF that blogger would take $100 to post about it. The biggest ROI for me has come from a blogger with a very small but loyal and targeted audience. 

    • http://journik.posterous.com journik

      Sarah, marketing is about numbers. and THEN, the accuracy within those numbers. for every minute spent qualifying a blogger for content fit, you’re better off messaging 20 bloggers who are “probable” fits.

      An atheist blogger might publish a BASH post about my bibles but one of their readers might be on their deathbed wanting to find god.

      Numbers numbers numbers. 

      • http://typeaparent.com Kelby Carr

        If you think quantity is over quality, you are not remotely qualified to advise on the topic of social media marketing.

        • http://journik.posterous.com journik

          Hi Kelby, in the end… the only thing that counts is quantity. you can’t count quality. 

          =p

          • http://typeaparent.com Kelby Carr

            You are incorrect on so many levels. I would explain why in engagement terms but it is clear you won’t get it. But a thousand people trashing your brand is never better than ten people praising it.

          • http://twitter.com/roasted_beanz Rachel

            No…you can’t count quality. You PAY for it. And your methods are obviously why you only deal with bloggers that take $4 and sweeps entry. 

  • http://babywithatwist.wordpress.com/ KeAnne

    While we’re arbitrarily making up lists, maybe it will help to know that you are in my Top 25 LOL!  I can’t believe it’s a Top 100 list with almost 3 times that many bloggers listed.  I think most blogging lists lack validity and typically reflect popularity instead of quality.  Nothing wrong with that per se, but the criteria used should be spelled out clearly. 

    • FadraN

      I will take that list!

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.margolin Erin Best Margolin

    I just finished reading through the comments and am so glad some of these women weighed in on the post. I hope The Blogess does rip him a new one. LOL

    How ridiculous? I think my jaw is on the floor. Pure cut & paste. Awful.

    • FadraN

      He’s getting traffic from it which is what he wants. I don’t fault him for that. I just want people to be able to ascertain when a list is a legitimate list and when it’s not. Not everyone can tell!

  • http://twitter.com/MommaBeThyName Stephanie Bernaba

    THAT list is a joke. Let’s just get that right out. Lists in general? I don’t know. People who get on them ask to be taken off, people who don’t get on them wonder why they weren’t chosen. Everything about them is subjective. I guess the question is really what are they for and do they have any enduring (and/or redeeming) value besides the fifteen minutes they are shared virally? And if that’s the point, I guess we (you, everyone) should just tell the list publishers,”You’re welcome.”

    • FadraN

      Stephanie – one of the reasons I wrote this is because I saw so many women THANKING the author. I don’t want to rain on their parade. I really don’t. But ANYONE can make up a list!

    • http://journik.posterous.com journik

      ps… not a single person asked to be removed. I’d be happy to do it. The better the {word count : inbound link} ratio, the better it does in Google.

      • JanetGoingCrazy

        That’s not true. The Bloggess did and was removed, promptly. :-)

        • http://journik.posterous.com journik

          Hi Janet, did the bloggess tell you that? 

          The reason we removed the bloggess was a totally different one… and we are going to put her back in as soon as we get back around to it. I LOVE her blog.And yes… offer stands… we will remove anybody who asks.

          • Rocstarsky

            You think you would follow her twitter. She said she complained and you removed her before she had to get rude with you.

          • JanetGoingCrazy

            Thanks, Rockstarsky! Yes, she said this on Twitter.

  • Gigi927

    I was #275. Imagine how excited I was. 

    • FadraN

      So you mean I rank higher than you? I’m adding that to my media kit ;)

  • http://thebrokins.com/ Jasmine

    Well said! But mainly I have a problem with it because I am not on it! ;)

  • Sarah Pinnix

    I AM on the list, but I don’t even do consumer campaigns anymore! That should tell you something. 

  • http://twitter.com/observacious Kim Z Dale

    Well put. 

    Of course, if I ever were to show up on one of these lists I would totally tweet the f*ck out of it no matter how absurd the title or how ambiguous the methodology. Perhaps that means I should be on the Global Top 100 Attention Whore Bloggers list (although I’m pretty sure competition for that list would be fierce).

  • http://typeaparent.com Kelby Carr

    The list was clearly copied from someone, and it was obviously a mom search (someone on there is a dude who has mom in his bio). I was much more concerned about the awful advice being given with the list. Great post, Fadra!!

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  • http://journik.posterous.com journik

    Wow. Very precise. Strong arguements. Impressed!

  • http://www.callistasramblings.com/ Kathleen Garber

    Wow I never even saw that but that’s terrible. I think those that commented a thank you didn’t actually read the post, just were excited to be included in a list. You are right, they just copied and pasted twitter bios and put them in randomly. I can’t believe it’s a top 100 mommy blogger list with more than 100 not all mom bloggers. !

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  • http://writingwishing.com/ Alison

    Personally, I dislike such lists, especially one like this that did not state a clear methodology, and for all the reasons you listed. 

    Also? It polarizes bloggers. It does the opposite of creating community, which for me, is so important in blogging. People who aren’t on lists wonder why they’re not and someone else is. Then they wonder if they’re doing something wrong, get sad and crawl into a hole and not blog for 2 weeks. Then they lose traffic and lose even more motivation to blog. Then they shut down their blog. And poof, they’re gone.

    I know, I exaggerate. It could happen though, right? :)  

  • cutemonster

    I love how Dada Rocks is on the list.  Last I checked, he’s a Dad and not a Mom.  Lists are silly and fun, aren’t they?  

    Vincent | @CuteMonsterDad:disqus 

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