The Audience Analysis Cookbook [Part 1/4]

Recipe for Analysing Blogs

You will need:

  • A handful of relevant blogs
  • A copy of the codebook
  • A free account on SurveyGizmo, SurveyMonkey or equivalent
  • Excel, OpenOffice, Google Docs, or equivalent spreadsheet

Instructions:

  1. Identify a sample of 3 or more blogs that are good examples of the type of political blogging that you are interested in;
  2. Using the Codebook, build a simple multiple-choice questionnaire in your favourite survey tool (I used SurveyGizmo – see example here);
  3. For each blog, review the overall blog style, the blog roll (or links page), any ‘about’, ‘profile’ or ‘mission’ pages and the first post that was published on the blog;
  4. Complete your online questionnaire for each of the blogs, including assessing what motivated the blogs’ authors and who their intended audiences are. Also consider the type of websites or blogs that are linked to in the blog roll, and the overall style and tone of the blog;
  5. Download your data into Excel and compare the findings with those from the other recipes in this series.

Results:
When applied to a sample of nine blogs on women’s economic empowerment, this recipe produced the following findings.

All blogs were found to have at least a minimal profile, with 78% also having a clear mission statement. The largest groups targeted in blog author’s descriptions of their intentions were professionals (72% of blogs) and academics (50%). Those targeting individuals on a personal level or as business people were fewer, with only 44% of blogs identifying each of these groups.

The majority of blogs (72%) had been established to serve an instrumental (informational) purpose, with 56% identifying social connectedness and 44% personal expression/affiliation as motivating factors. The fourth most frequent motivation for blogging was branding or profit – although this may have been a hidden factor in other blogs. The most infrequent motivations were entertainment (6%), personal coping, and emotional support (both 11%).

All the blogs reviewed tended to be either a journal (44%) or blended (56%) style of blog containing a mixture of essays, filtered content and personal reflections. The use of blogging platforms was associated with longer reviews, reflective pieces and commentaries, whilst the use of Facebook tended to be associated with filtering links. One site split up the filtering style blog and longer discussions into separate parts of the website.

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