I posted yesterday's post about the Ecairn 'influencers' post slightly tongue in cheek. No doubt it had a few scratching their heads thinking 'how did he....' Me too for a short while but it didn't take too long to track down how Ecairn had arrived at their list and to be honest I felt a little short-changed, I think they did what many of these sites/companies/individuals do and scratch the surface. They took some headline numbers and a pre-existing listing of birding blogs and mashed the two together. The reality is that the 20 blogs they hit on just happened to be the 20 in that particular listing, whilst some may well have 'influence' for others (including my own) I'd say that was a little questionable.
This got me thinking though, who do I think the influencers are in bird blogging? So I've set about trying to answer this. I'm not going to rank these sites as I'm not sure hits or traffic is a pure determinant of influence and this is a personal view so perhaps some of these will influence me but not you.
Ted Eubanks one of the finest minds in US birding in my opinion. Writes fluently, intelligently and in depth across a range of birding topics. Many of Ted's chosen subjects transcend national borders. Don't expect daily content, this is quality rather than quantity guaranteed to challenge your thinking about birding and the mechanics and dynamics of our birding lives.
10,000Birds was the leading bird blog in the US. The recent addition of a large number of other authors and the loss of Charlie Moores has weakened the site in the short term but 10kbirds has readership, an authoritative voice and history. It will bounce back but needs to find clear goals again to be at it's best. The strength of some of the authors will pull it through tough times.
Laura Kammermeier a long-time favourite writer of mine, LK covers wide ground, writes well and has insight. Recently she has been at the forefront of the Bird-Friendly Coffee campaign in the US and I've no doubt has significantly influenced the coffee purchasing trends of more than a few birders. Great trip reports that delve deep into the psyche of some fantastic birding destinations and a superb understanding of technology and how it influences the birding marketplace.
David Sibley An established name in the US in Field Guides and identification, now using his blog to push the boundaries in many areas. With a strong brand reputation and an established product portfolio Sibley is a major player in the US with the potential to reach further should he choose to do so.
Martin Garner stretching our thinking in identification matters Martin's Birding Frontiers book and website is constantly challenging us to break new ground and look critically at everything we see. Martin may still not be 'mainstream' in UK birding but with his relaxed informal style and infectious personality Birding Frontiers will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Dominic Mitchell as Editor of Birdwatch DM already has considerable influence to create and highlight trends in UK birding. His personal blog leaves little doubt that this is more than a job and good quality content will continue to see his personal rating and influence soar.
Lee Evans he may be the anti-hero of British Birding, the man birders love to hate but his opinions whether you like them or not create a stir. People don't get worked up about things that don't matter. LGRE has had limited success with commercial projects such as his Ultimate Sites book and UK400 Club but if he could translate more of his prodigious output and 'brand awareness' into something marketable his influence, reach and revenue would surely follow.
Birding is a niche business, stating the obvious there are many niches. Global players are few and far between and mainly restricted to optics manufacturers but there are platforms and businesses out there with the potential to be great on a world scale.
Birdguides whilst unquestionably a leading player and influencer in UK terms the recent expansion into mobile applications delivers a potential reach into the global market for a business with a diverse product portfolio and a strong customer base. Check out the new Birds of Brazil App as an example.
Dale Forbes perhaps one of the few individuals in birding with obvious global reach and influence. As product manager with Swarovski, a blogger at 10,000 Birds and Birdingblogs.com Dale is no stranger to seeding his content and seeking to influence and find influencers. Whilst DF is obviously the human face of a global brand it seems he has been given enough rope to swing wherever he sees fit.
I could go on but I think I might have made my point, it's all too easy to look at a business from the outside, throw a few numbers together and spend some time on Google but it doesn't actually provide real insight for the many businesses for whom knowledge of who can influence is so important in a digital global market.