Monday, April 12, 2010

IBM wants to inspire us blog — research on Blog Muse at CHI2010

Our finance and operations director, Robb Hughes, just finished the book Inbound Marketing.  And he’s been thinking a lot about how to consistently “create remarkable content.”  Here are some of his observations (and research about a tool to be presented this week at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta).

Inevitably if you have a personal blog or contribute to your company blog, you have probably had similar musings. 

IBM has been developing a tool they call “Blog Muse” that might save bloggers from “writers block.”

IBM’s research shows better than 80% of those who begin a corporate blog never post more than five entries.  Blogs can be a powerful tool that pull in customers and expose your company and ideas to new audiences, but no blog will see the light of day on a search engine result page if there are so few entries. 

In the beginning blogging can feel like a real waste of time. Hardly anyone visits the blog. No one is commenting.  Many bloggers ask, what’s the point?

Blog Muse can offer inspiration. It offers bloggers topic suggestions made by readers. Topics are ranked and distributed to bloggers that write blogs about similar topics. That way, a topic about the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner isn’t sent to a car enthusiast blog.  Once the blogger has written the blog, readers who suggested the topic are alerted. Everyone wins. Bloggers write about relevant topics that have passionate readers and readers can find new blogs that write about their interests. Bloggers testing the software also have seen about twice as many comments and three times as many ratings. Traffic is up too. How much wasn’t specified.

IBM is unsure if it will commercialize the technology and says there is additional research to be done. The original research was done over only four weeks with 1,000 users.  The latest data will be presented at CHI 2010 on Wednesday, April 14 by Casey Dugan, Werner Geyer, and David R. Millen of IBM T.J. Watson Research.  Their workshop entitled “Lessons Learned from Blog Muse: Audience-based Inspiration for Bloggers” will describe the evaluation of a system whose goal is to inspire potential blog writers by connecting them with their audience through a topic-suggestion approach.

Their conclusion: topics requested by users are most effective.

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