Business Week always writes such interesting articles:

Social Media Will Change Your Business

Look past the yakkers, hobbyists, and political mobs. Your customers and rivals are figuring blogs out. Our advice: Catch up…or catch you later

That month, May 2005, is when NeoPets was sold to Viacom/Nickleodeon, 70 million kids online, more stickability than Facebook. It woke me up to the fact that my industry was about to go through a massive growing up process. No longer were online communities for gamers and geeks :

Editor’s note: When we published “Blogs Will Change Your Business” in May, 2005, Twittering was an activity dominated by small birds. Truth is, we didn’t see MySpace coming. Facebook was still an Ivy League sensation. Despite the onrush of technology, however, thousands of visitors are still downloading the original cover story.
So we decided to update it. Over the past month, we’ve been calling many of the original sources and asking the Blogspotting community to help revise the 2005 report. We’ve placed fixes and updates into more than 20 notes; to view them, click on the blue icons. If you see more details to fix, please leave comments. The role of blogs in business is clearly an ongoing story.

Let’s look at the Neopets 2005 acquisition ($)160 million for a moment:

Why is the acquisition interesting? Well …

  • Neopets has grown from 90,000 subscribers in 2000 to more than 25-million today
  • The social software company has eight-figure revenue and is cash-flow positive
  • It has taken no venture money, and no professional outside capital of any kind that I’m aware of
  • It is one of the fastest-growing sites on the web, and is consistently among the 10 stickiest sites in the world (according to Nielsen/Netratings)

Do you see why I thought it was a big deal at the time?

The key point of the Business Week article for me: people don’t know they are reading blogs. People don’t think they belong to an online community, because they aren’t on MySpace or Facebook:

There’s a little problem, though. Many of you don’t visit blogs—or haven’t since blogs became a sensation in last year’s Presidential race. According to a Pew Research Center Survey, only 27% Some newer numbers: According to Forrester, 11.2% of online adults in the U.S. publish a blog at least once a month. Of the same group, 24.8% read a blog and 13.7% comment on a blog at least once a month. The numbers are higher for youths. Of online youths, 20.8% publish a blog, 36.6% read a blog, and 26.4% comment on a blog at least once a month. But I suspect the numbers are unreliable because many mainstream sites with millions of readers—celebrity site TMZ and gadget sites like Gizmodo—are actually blogs. But are all the readers aware of this? I doubt it. This is the blurring of the blog/mainstream divide, a theme we’ll see again and again in these revisions. of Internet users in America now bother to read them. So we’re going to take you into the world of blogs by delivering this story—call it Blogs 101 for businesses—in the style of a blog. We’re even sprinkling it with links. These are underlined words that, when clicked, carry readers of this story’s online version to another Web page. This all may make for a strange experience, but it’s the closest we can come to reaching out from the page, grabbing you by the collar, and shaking you into action.

Absolutely – I ask my audience “do you belong to a social network online?” and they usually answer, “absolutely not, but my kids do”. then later in the day “oh, I play chess online with people I’ve never met, is that a social network?” or “I belong to a forum for people with diabetes, but that’s not a real social network is it?” Uhuh it is. 🙂

You can read more at Business Week.