Blogs are well-known to be a big draw on the Web, and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) AOL is obviously well aware of that fact. Today, AOL launched Bloggingstocks.com, a site where bloggers post commentary on publicly traded companies. It's a nod not only to the popularity of blogs but also to the powerful trends in community-based content on the Internet these days.
AOL's Bloggingstocks features widely held stocks, including its own parent company, Time Warner, as well as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , Wal-Mart (Nasdaq: WMT ) , Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , and General Electric. (Indeed, that does strike me as a "who's who" of stocks on which everybody has an opinion. Because of my experience here at the Fool, I know you don't write about Wal-Mart without getting lots of passionate feedback. And never mind Apple -- I've even written about the occasional vitriol of that stock's fans.)
AOL has enlisted bloggers from various backgrounds, all described as "passionate individual investors," to write for its stock blogs, and even gives us a nod in its Code of Conduct, stating, "As The Motley Fool says, 'Who better to write about investing than those who do it themselves?'" Well, rock on. I should also mention that AOL's writers, like those of us who write for the Fool, must disclose the stocks they hold.
I can see why AOL would launch this feature in its Money & Finance area. It's content that appeals to individual investors and definitely has the community-based leanings that are so popular in recent times. Readers can send AOL's bloggers news tips and access the posts that are "most commented on." The posts also utilize an organizational feature similar to tagging, with which readers can access all stories "filed under" a certain topic, like "television" or "Internet."
Given Internet trends, it's understandable that blogs are practically a "must-have" content channel these days, embracing the idea of openness and discussion, as opposed to the old-fashioned ideas that content was static and that writer and reader shouldn't interact.
But for that very reason, it might not work. Many Web publishers offer blogs in conjunction with other content and often give readers the ability to sound off on articles through comments -- one of the big innovations of the blogosphere. And of course, there's the fact that blogs have posed a threat to old-school content purveyors and have made an expert of anybody who can post. Millions of people read blogs already, and Technorati, which is currently tracking 36.7 million sites, said in February that the number of blogs is doubling every five and a half months.
There's no argument that despite user defections over recent years, AOL is still a sticky destination for its subscribers, and it's working on becoming an "in" place for content that will woo more visitors from the far reaches of the Internet. That said, AOL may have its work cut out for it in terms of attracting readership from the Internet's vast expanse, where there's so much content to be consumed. Indeed, it had better make sure its blogs are a cut above the rest.
For more on blogs, see the following Foolish content:
- Wal-Mart recently made a blogging blunder.
- Read more about the business of blogging.
- More than a year ago, blogs were already booming.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.