The question of what drives people to read blogs is a big one for traditional media losing time with their audiences to the Internet and companies looking to tap the Web for marketing. One view suggests that, with such a broad smorgasborg of blogs and posts to choose from, readers will only dine on the most compelling content. But some researchers who studied a group of blog readers say one factor may be unappreciated: Habit.
Q: Your study suggests that regular blog readers are reading out of habit, rather than making content-oriented decisions about whether to read. Do you think blog reading is becoming more like TV viewing, to which some people devote hours while complaining that they can’t find anything good to watch?
Mr. Baumer: While blog reading often becomes habitual, that does not mean it is not about the content. Motivations for reading are highly multifaceted, and while routine is one motivation, there are many others, including finding current news, fostering a personal connection with the blogger, fulfilling social obligations by reading a friend’s blog, entertainment value, etc. While blog reading is often habitual, that habitual nature interacts with many other varied motivations.