Building a Better Blog Foundation with Aggregation
by Linda Goin

Over the past few weeks, Linda has provided explanations about various social networking tools and has provided a list or two of social networking platforms for designers and developers. But, what about your blog? Is it dead in the water, or should you make that blog the foundation of your social media tower? In this article, Linda discusses the answer and some ways to build a better blog for that foundation.

Aggregation Makes the World Go 'Round

If you keep up with social networking news, you may know that Facebook acquired Friendfeed this month for about $47.5 million USD. This was eBay deal, trust me – the team at Friendfeed knew what they were doing, and they did it well – including grassroots publicity that took on the big dogs.  The Friendfeed team knows about 'big dogs' – most of the team players at that company previously worked for Google.

Facebook is actively pursuing an objective that may make them the largest aggregate social media platform to date. Facebook, first, isn't for kids anymore – they made the playing ground both social- and business-oriented. Then, they made deals with companies such as Huffington Post, Twitter and Digg to create Facebook Connect, a way to filter all your comments, actions and interactions to your Facebook profile.

Facebook is serious about the social media aggregation dance, and they've made it clear that they're the band director and the dance leader. While this accumulation of services may remind you of some other tech stars who rose and then fell under pressure from growing too large (I'm a firm believer that a company is never too large to fail), Facebook seems to have taken a page from that history book and learned from it – why grow from within when you can be the tugboat and pull others along behind you or push them into deals that otherwise might lie fallow?

The Tugboat and the Firm Foundation

Facebook is an aggregation of social media tools such as links, comments and images. While that description sounds like a blog, it isn't a blog. Huffington Post (HuffPo), on the other hand, is a blog, because Arianna Huffington makes that site a blog. She writes on a consistent basis, and she's the co-founder and editor-in-chief for that blog, which is disguised as a newspaper and an aggregate news and opinion platform.

Other clues point to HuffPo's blog status, including the fact that it's powered by Movable Type (Six Apart), it combines text, images, and links to other Internet sites and other media related to its topic, and readers can leave comments. HuffPo requires these options to make the site happen on someone else's platform, whereas Facebook requires its users to make things happen on their platform.

Now that you see the difference between Facebook and HuffPo, I'll throw both sites into a blender, as the main ingredient that ties both sites together is the word, "aggregation." Both sites pull from other sites across the Internet to make their sites appear larger than they are in real life.

Don't get me wrong – Facebook and HuffPo both are huge sites. But, by linking to other sites and platforms, they become portals and they become the 'go to' sites to find information on other sites. In the Washington Post article I linked to earlier, they say this about HuffPo:

To understand the allure of this kind of aggregator, one only has to look to successful news aggregators. Take the devilishly popular Huffington Post, for example. For better or worse, the site's mash-up of news from disparate sources has struck a cord among its 7 million monthly visitors. Its home page is a mix of links to blog posts from Huffington Post contributors and links to outside stories from the news media. Rather than hunt and peck through all these other sites, people go to the Huffington Post to be delivered a smattering of links. Aggregators work because they do all the hard work for you.

And, they say this about Facebook:

Facebook bought FriendFeed so it could become the Huffington Post of your social life.

So, where does that leave you and your blog?

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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