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FutureNow Post
Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Has Social Media killed blogging?

By Howard Kaplan
October 21st, 2008

Argh.

Wired’s (and Valleywag) Paul Boutin writes a eulogy for Blogs. Link-bait? Probably, but he certainly raised the ire of several in the online community, myself included. Heck, he even got me to crawl out from the rock I was hiding these past few months and pen a few words of commentary, in defense of blogging (yes, I recognize the irony ;) . I think Mathew Ingram wrote the best counter to Paul’s argument, so I’ll let you hop off and read his discourse before returning to hear a few questions I’m pondering.

Here’s what I found myself wondering after reading Paul’s post:

  1. Why does having a number of different authors make the blog any less “blog-like” – i.e. if there are still good blogs out there, albeit less personal and more representative of a group of persons who all share a similar view on a particular topic, why can’t that be considered a blog? Shouldn’t the litmus test be the value of the content they produce, regardless of the person(s) who created the content?
  2. Why does the fact that blogging about mainstream topics like presidential candidates makes it difficult to rank highly in google equate to “kill yr blog”? Google is all about relevance, always has been, always (most likely) will be. If the most relevant answer to a searcher’s query could be found on a personal (or professional) blog, it would rank high. For “Barack Obama”, aren’t most searchers looking for that wikipedia page, or the Fox News article (ahem, wouldn’t MSNBC be more likely?!) What about the blogger who writes about a passion topic, something like the greatest college basketball team, and wants to be able to connect with those who share that passion. Is this form of community no longer valid?
  3. Why does the “insult commenter” need to ruin the fun for the rest of us? Assigning so much power to those silly flame comments seems to ignore the power the rest of us have to ignore things that don’t add value. It’s like the reviews people post on Amazon, with a absurdly high (or low) score but no substantiation for their claims. People today seem to be far better equipped to deal with hype and BS, and tune out what doesn’t make sense in favor of what does. I strongly disagree that these silly one-off comments really degrade the experience the rest of us enjoy.

His close though seemed to help me understand where he was coming from:

As a writer, though, I’m onto the system’s [Twitter] real appeal: brevity. Bloggers today are expected to write clever, insightful, witty prose to compete with Huffington and The New York Times. Twitter’s character limit puts everyone back on equal footing. It lets amateurs quit agonizing over their writing and cut to the chase.

Ok, so as long as you and I agree not everyone writes about topics covered by the mainstream media on a daily basis, I think Paul will agree with us that the platform still adds value. I’d love to try and have a meaningful and interactive and ongoing marketing optimization discussion, 140 characters at a time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments- are you reading more or less blogs today than 4 years ago?

As well what are the topics you enjoy reading about *outside* of the mainstream media (and any blogs you like that cover those topics). For me, scanning my bloglines start page shows:

… just to name a few! So if you’re out there blogging, please feel free to ignore the opening advice from Wired, and keep up the fine work- I’m sure your audience appreciates it.

Add Your Comments

Comments (20)

  1. I just read it an hour ago. I thought “there it goes again; the buzz making machine is on”.

    Yes, I definitely read more blogs than ever: web analytics, online marketing, data visualization, etc. All those blogs score high as well on Google…

  2. On the one hand, blogs have only existed for a few years, so it’s inevitable that they’ll be transformed. On the other hand, I’m sick and tired of the “Is X dead?” and “Has X killed Y?” posts. Social media changes and diversifies the game, but it hasn’t killed blogging. Case in point: you have a blog and so do I. That’s 2 right there :)

  3. Perhaps what we’re seeing is a diversification of communication types. Ten years ago, a blog was the easiest way to communicate online. As such, it drew hundreds of thousands to try their hand at it. As more and more applications and social networks have offered different methods of communications, with differing levels of ease, we’ve spread out across a wider spectrum.

    Blogs are largely asynchronous in their communication style. Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall, see what engages your audience. Twitter’s more synchronous in its style, where you’re playing in near-real time.

    But synchronous/asynchronous isn’t the only spectrum. There’s also the narrowband/wideband dichotomy as well. I wrote a bit about this for my blog (yes, I still have one..) that as communications types vary, so too vary who’s involved.

  4. I think Blogs are far too useful to be overtaken by any stretch… I am tending to agree with Tom Bridge above. This seems like a bit more of an evolution… Whether it will be a bastardized version is has yet to be seen.

  5. i totally missed the original blog wave and was heavily involved in all social media aspects the past 4 years. ive grow bored of these and recently setup my first wordpress blog :)

  6. I haven’t read the original article but your comments have sparked a response from me. I personally read less blogs and write fewer posts than I used to. Writing is a forced skill for me and since I’ve discovered Twitter, I find myself making up excuses to not write another blog post. I actually look to twitter first to see if anyone has an interesting punchline before I travel to their blog and take the time to read it. Also, my Google Reader is filled with business blogs for me to learn info I don’t already know. I don’t like reading other people’s comments on politics, gossip, and everyday happenings around the world. My day is too busy. However, I would tend to read blogs from friends but not from strangers I’ve never met. I would much rather network on Facebook and Twitter. I feel like I can take in a lot more information through other sources than spend all day reading 400+ word blog posts. I’m a cut-the-BS-and-state-the-facts kind of person. I am not an emotional reader by any means. But I do find myself continuing to fill this comment box…

  7. @Jacques – can you imagine Edward Tufte trying to communicate in 140 character bursts?!

    @Tom – very interesting read on your blog. I see some similarities between how you describe synchronicity and how MBTI would define introversion/extraversion. As most Introverts prefer time to ponder, they should more often favor asynchronous communication styles. I find it interesting you would classify the mechanisms for interaction based on the speed in which people interact though. For instance, some people comment immediately upon reading a post (blog, in this case) while others mentally form what they want to say first, and then return later to post their thoughts. Totally agreed on the diversification, as I am with sharing @Dr Pete’s sickness of what’s dead!

  8. @Jim & @Jayme – THANK YOU!! At the heart of everything we do at FutureNow is the concept that people are in fact different (modelable, yes, but still different) and businesses need to understand and celebrate those differences to avoid messaging the “typical customer”. Inevitably, as with anyone trying to make a blanket generalization, we can point out inconsistencies. I think you (and thank you!) each proved Paul’s original hypothesis incorrect. For some, Blogs still offer a great way to learn new tactics and strategies about topics that interest them. For others, other social media tools better fill whatever voids exist in people’s days, and their quest to be entertained most of the time! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and @Jim, welcome to club! Why not post a link so we can check out your wordpress blog?

  9. @Howard:

    There’s a great book called, “More Work For Mother” that was written by Ruth Schwartz Cowan that talks about how domestic technology didn’t decrease the workload at all: it just changed the expectations involved. I would argue that blog comments are asynchronous. I don’t expect responses to my entries, nor to my comments on other blogs. It’s everything to do with how you use the service. Twitter *can* be used asynchronously, it’s just not nearly as effective as an asynchronous communication method. Why not just use email? Etc.

    Interesting stuff. I think I’ll be refining this into a paper for my STS program at Virginia Tech.

  10. I think it always comes down to this: do you have information that is actually useful to people and, if so, who cares what medium it’s presented to them in.

    We all want to find that magic bullet for getting our thoughts across and sometimes we get too caught up on the medium rather than looking at the message.

  11. Definitely more blogs than 4 years ago.

  12. @Tom – It’s a great idea for a deeper paper. If you’d like comments while you write, send me a copy for review.

    @Jeff – you absolutely nailed it. That’s what underlies Persuasion Architecture – getting to the heart of what matters to your audience, so you don’t have to worry nearly as much about how or when to reach them- they come and find you!

  13. I was the first blogger in my industry. Since then (last 3 years or so) I have seen several blogs of the same topic come and go. I have also seen 2-4 social sits in my industry also become very successful. At first I was worried if they would “KILL OFF” my readership but that has not been the case. Instead I have leveraged these social sites to get my word out and build more traffic.

    All this can of course depend on what you are blogging about but for me I have tried to…

    Build a voice and become respected
    Keep my information relevant and fresh
    Get Ideas from the other social sites for postings
    Come up with something different
    Really reach out to your readers

    For myself, many of the social sites are too time consuming and when you have several postings a day (and there are always those few people that seem to run the social sites, ultimately making the site their voice) it becomes too much. That’s my opinion.

    If you’re a blogger that is facing the grave but you enjoy what you do, reinvent yourself and your blog. Find your voice, do something different, find the weakness of your competitor and go after it.

    Twitter and Facebook is no substitute for great information.

  14. As with Jeff Kershner above, I was one of the first in my niche (voiceover) to blog. Today, I read far more blogs than I did 4 years ago.

    Be well,
    Bob

  15. I am still reading blogs as much as ever, mostly about Online Marketing, and mostly because I find it a more time efficient way to keep up with our ever evolving space.

    What has always attracted me to blogs has not changed. The ones I like to read are like a highly targeted newspaper written by someone with an attitude I like. If it does not meet these criteria, I won’t read regularly.

    I personally write a blog as an online reference center. So when I get the same question about SEO or data structure, or color on a web site, I can point people to an information source and not have to keep repeating myself. I am trying to make time to slowly build and maintain my published knowledge base as questions come into me. I will never be a professional blogger at this rate, but I will always keep the blog.

    Social media is for finding out who made out with who last weekend after drinking too much (for me :-)

  16. I don’t feel social media has killed blogging in the least. In fact, it might have strengthened interest in it. Quite honestly, I get at least 10-20 Facebook event invites a day in my in-box and I just feel overwhelmed by the number – which is causing me not to respond to any.

    Plus, I am very involved with my Spirited Woman Blogger Team and feel we are establishing good, informative content through what we do.

    Sometimes, I just feel that social media sites have lost control of the content of their sites and therefore their power.

  17. Commentary blogs will have a tough time competing, because they are more conversational and become irrelevant much faster. That is, unless your commentary is super super remarkable with unique prose.

    Blogs focused on topic expertise and creative thinking are ones that allow you to build nice niche audiences. These tend to create business and sell, and can be complimented by social rather well.

    My Google Reader is like a daily classroom, filled with wicked smart people saying wicked insightful things that are wicked relevant to my daily flow. They aren’t going anywhere.

  18. I’m reading the following (much more than in the past, less on the sites and more RSS):
    TechCrunch
    IWillTeachYouToBeRich
    ReadWriteWeb
    LifeHacker

    I think your point about relevance is pretty on target. Except that relevance isn’t defined by “true” relevance but by what everyone believes to be relevant.

    If you don’t have access to the most relevant information, it will never become relevant.

    IMO that’s the sad state of gaming the system. Relevance is decided by eyeballs.

    Is there still space for the small guys? Yup, you just have to work hard at it.

    Interesting reading about your opinions.

    I’d love to take you to lunch sometime.

  19. Social networking is a compliment to blogging, not a competitor IMHO. Done right social networking links and posts blogs to the benefit of both.

  20. You don’t have to tell me twice. I am going to keep right on blogging sir!

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