Geoff Livingston has a graphic that perfectly illustrates the public relations long tail, with the red part illustrating that which clients will pay for, and the longer yellow tail showing that which is valuable, but not billable. I don’t think that is quite how he would describe it; but currently, that is how clients view social media.
I asked a friend of mine which blogs he reads and he just looked at me as if I were a fool. My friend doesn’t read blogs unless someone sends him a link. He gets his information by doing searches on subjects which interest him. If you want to reach him, you need to be on that first page of results, which brings us back to blogs. One of the blogs my friend has stumbled across is John Boyer’s, which he likes very much. As of this posting, Boyer’s blog has all of four inbound posts. Clearly you do not have to have a highly linked blog to emerge at the top of search results, only relevant content.
Which brings us to the question of what is a credible blog. Clearly that is in the eye of the reader. A blog with many inbound links might be regarded as credible or not, depending upon the reader. A blog with few inbound links might be regarded as deservedly obscure or an undiscovered gem. Several months ago I received an inbound link from Agile CMMI blog, which has a grand total of ten inbound links. Even so, this blog clearly has a regular following as directly I received the link my hit count began to climb. No client would pay for a link from either of these blogs, but clearly such a link, provided the context was favorable, would be valuable for a client.
Those of us who understand social media have much work to do in explaining its role in increasing search engine visibility and brand equity.