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The Blogger's Real Influence

Blogging on investments is a fascinating exercise in human behavior. One of the first things I learned when I started writing about the energy storage sector in the summer of 2008 is that my words almost never have a direct impact on the market prices of companies I write about. After interacting with readers for almost three years, it's clear that a blog like mine can motivate a small percentage of readers to do their homework and invest in a particular company, but most readers will simply sit on the sidelines, monitor developments and eventually make a decision based on corporate accomplishments.

Those who do the work and make a decision prior to an identifiable corporate accomplishment are bottom feeders of the highest order who are content to put out a low bid and wait for the price to come to them. They'll never chase a price.

Based on my experience over the last three years, I'm convinced that the following graph of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle is equally applicable to the investment markets. The readers who are intrigued by an article or series of articles and really dig down into the meat of a company are the equivalent of innovators and early adopters - the folks to the left of the chasm. The majority of readers, in contrast, are watching and waiting for a business milestone before they commit. For some it will be a technical milestone, for others it will be a revenue milestone and for others still it will be a profit or market milestone.

It's a big universe out there and my sphere of influence is very limited.

I'm always a little fearful at industry conferences when CEO's of companies I write about approach me for the first time. I worry that they'll take issue with something I've written. In most cases, they want me to write about their company more often, not less. Apparently readers quickly forget what I say about a particular company but they remember that I said something, and that keeps the stock on their radar.

In the end, it reminds me of the old George M. Cohan line, "I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something and as long as you spell my name [and my stock symbol] right." Someday I may achieve guru status where my words move markets. Until then I'll have to be content with sharing my experience and helping others develop an investment style that suits them.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.