The use of tools to facilitate online social networking, including blogs, has proliferated at an astonishing rate in recent years.
A new blog is created every second, adding to the 37 million that already exist, according to David Sifry, founder of the Technorati weblog data-set and link tracker/search engine.
This staggering rate of increase equates to a sixty-fold growth of the 'blogosphere' within the past three years.
There are no geographic or demographic boundaries to blogging. Ray Valdes, a web services analyst at Gartner, observed that the total number of bloggers worldwide makes it difficult to conclude that one geographical region could have a higher concentration of blogging activity than any other.
But, despite the general accessibility, popularity and viral nature of social networking tools, organisations are only now putting them firmly on the corporate agenda.
"Blogging can be a key element in a company's repertoire of communication channels," said Valdes.
The analyst pointed to a well-known case at the end of 2004 in which bicycle lock manufacturer Kryptonite fought claims spread through blogging that its locks could be picked with nothing more than a plastic pen top.
"In the days after the initial blog posting, the information resonated within the blogosphere and was amplified to a level that reached the mass media," explained Valdes.
Kryptonite recouped goodwill by instituting a $10m product exchange programme, but also had to settle a $200m class-action lawsuit out of court.
Costly horror stories like this are not only forcing organisations to acknowledge the extent of the blogosphere's influence on consumer and market forces, but to engage with it.
"The biggest risk with regard to corporate blogs is not having one, which can result in being blindsided by competitors, customers and broader market forces, " said Valdes.
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