Today, I’m channelling my inner Sex And The City voice to ask a very Carrie Bradshaw style leading question… though, to your indescribable relief, it’s not going to be about anything relationship-oriented.
My question – you can imagine it being typed on your screen now, as I sit in my tutu in a fabulous 30,000 square foot apartment which I can live in despite making tuppenny-ha’penny per week as a womens’ lifestyle columnist:
Is blogging dead?
A lot of serious people who were in from the start believe so. Take science fiction writer and prominent blogger John Scalzi: “Even a couple of years ago, as an aggregate, personal blogs funnelled a fair amount of traffic into [this site]. Here in 2016, however, personal blogs as a traffic driver seem to be a non-starter”. And here’s genre TV and fiction critic Abigail Nussbaum: “With RSS being phased out, and with outward-facing platforms like LiveJournal giving way to inward-facing ones like Tumblr, writers tend to congregate not in their own spaces but on commercially-owned websites”.
So there’s a lot of chatter from people out there to the effect that, well, yes, Carrie, the parrot has expired here. The trend has, of course, been blogged about, reaching its comic (and absurd) conclusion with this funny piece from July, “Is Blogging About Blogging Being Dead The New Blogging?”.
To which I say:
Not all blogs are created equal, Carrie.
I would agree that personal, creative blogging has probably died, yes. Let’s call it B2C blogging, though that isn’t quite right as a lot of blogs are not about selling anything at all but a space for personal expression.
But clients don’t do that. (btw – If they say they want to, hypnotise them and gently wipe their memories until they get over the idea!.) B2B blogging is different, and always has been.
The rise of the independent Howlett corporate critic – and their changed role today
There were a few famous crossovers; I always cite Den Howlett in this regard; now at diginomica , Dennis came to prominence last decade as a kind of enterprise IT independent blogger, expressing outrageous but well-researched and finely expressed opinion pieces that the industry and customers started to take so seriously he became a ‘brand’ in his own right, ending up being invited amongst the first to live blog from major conferences like SAP.
There weren’t many like this, but if you remember, it was a time about driving traffic off that blog site, linking to other blog sites… that’s where the action was, the individual online diary. But even Den doesn’t independently blog anymore. Like everyone else, he’s noticed that the conversation has moved on – or rather, the conversational space has moved on; like it or not, it’s on Twitter now – that’s where people go for opinion and links and conversation, LinkedIn, for some people Tumblr, Facebook posts.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no role for the blog – or something like that. You can say something snappy in 140 characters, but you just can’t say that much. Note how many Tweets are actually links to the content, too… often online articles or news pieces, but very often blogs, it turns out.
Base content is still vital – you have to say something. But how you spread that content has shifted away from the blogging platform to other means.
What that means for B2B hi-tech brands is this: you still need to say stuff – your inner Carrie Bradshaw still needs an outlet. But you just can’t assume people will pay that much attention to that individual blog. So, you have to be much more disciplined. No one, two, three parts blogs; people won’t bother. One blog, one thought. No meandering or side issues or diversions – you’ll lose people. Shorter and sharper (which will make you a better ‘columnist’ anyway.)
Some things stay the same. It remains absolutely the case that the blog has to be useful, relevant and written by a subject matter expert. (Let’s not have Mirandas writing about Carrie issues; it doesn’t work!) But how the debate and conversation is then sparked and supported has to be on more immediate social media channels, without a doubt. We find at Sarum with our clients, especially software and services firms, that blogs are a fantastic source of PR, news, opinion, ways to engage, carry on the dialogue… and so, to end for today and so allow me to go out and do a fabulous lunch with The Girls, my conclusion has to be, No, blogging isn’t dead at all in B2B – but it has changed, and if you’re a serious communicator and Guardian of anyone’s Voice, you need to work with the new reality here.
Now where’s that damn tutu?