Should marketers focus more on the A-list bloggers? Not necessarily.
Think of the blog world as millons of people in a fairly dry forest. If you're a marketer, each blogger who has something nasty to say about your product is holding the communications equivalent of a lighted match.
The key is to respond to those matches before one of them ignites a bigger fire. So does it make more sense to focus on the power bloggers who wield digital blow torches?
Not necessarily, says Howard Kaushansky, ceo of Umbria Communications, the market intelligence company I wrote about in June. He says Umbria's computers don't distinguish in the least between an unknown blogger with no links and A-listers like Jeff Jarvis or Dave Winer.
Why so? Every blogger speaks to the world, and every post has the potential to set off a conflagration. So, he says, it makes sense to count the matches. It's true that the A-listers play a crucial role. They fan the flames. But by the time they're onto a nasty rumor, complaint, or embarrassment, according to Umbria, it's no longer just a flicker in the forest. It's a blaze. And by that point, you probably don't need a market intelligence company to tell you about it.
I actually have some doubts about Kaushansky's thinking here. I have to run off to an interview, but plan to post my quibble later. If you want to pre-empt it in comments, please go ahead.