Have you heard the news? Blogging is dead. Every year people march out articles telling us that the era of blogging is finished and the “new thing” is ready to take over. Generally, they are selling something or just crying for attention. I especially love it when they make the pronouncement on a blog (very post-modern.) But the claim is made so often, that I guess we ought to examine it.
Microblogging is the Wave of the Future!
A fun start off point would be an article from Fast Company magazine, explaining “Why Blogging is Dead- And What is Next?” Since this article is a couple of years old, we have a chance to look for hindsight (which I adore.)
“All of these (microblogging options) are incredibly different from traditional blogs. They are much less text heavy, and they focus on quality of both content and design. God knows what they will do to journalism when they become mainstream–because they will. Many of the people entering the Internet now will never even see a PC or a laptop; they will read on mobile devices. So the format of content must rapidly change to meet them.”
The upshot of the article is that everyone will read content on their mobile devices so long form communication is dead. Fast forward to today and the culmination of the bite-sized immensely clickable communication looks a lot like:
Welcome to your brand new non-blogging future. The funny part is that my favorite blogs are probably the only place that I have left to go to avoid that kind of crap. Go to any online newspaper and you will probably get those same exact articles just below their news stories. The other funny part is that if you actually go to the articles, you will be presented with a slide show that will guide you through 20 different advertisement-laden pages. Not really optimal for mobile devices.
No, they were really talking about Facebook and Twitter:
Facebook and Twitter were a thing back in December 2012, so that wasn’t what Fast Company was talking about, as neither was really discussed. But others have pointed to the rise of social media as blog kryptonite. From the New York Times in 2011, “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter,”
The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.
Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.
Well, yeah. I will reckon that there were very few blogs written by 12 to 17-year-olds that held any type of audience so shifting to Facebook and twitter makes infinitely more sense. Among 18 to 33-year-olds the percentage drop off was minimal. As many people reading this have blogs, the relationship between blogs and social media isn’t a mystery. Social media only works when it can move along content and most of that content is created by blogs. Very few people are proficient enough to create lasting and meaningful content in 140 characters or less, so they use links. Remove the links, there is very little going on with Facebook and Twitter. The thought that these mediums are REPLACING serious blogging is laughable. Well, unless you are Katy Perry. Hi, Katy!!
Homegrown Blogging can never replace traditional media and will eventually be done better by “professionals.”
Already happened. Next time you go to the grocery store look at the magazine rack when you are checking out. Notice the almost complete absence of women’s magazines. That is not an accident. Not long ago the seven most popular women’s magazines (known as the seven sisters) were:
Better Homes and Gardens (started in 1922)
Family Circle (started in 1932)
Good Housekeeping (started in 1885)
McCall’s (started in 1873)
Ladies’ Home Journal (started in 1873)
Redbook (started in 1903)
Woman’s Day (started in 1937)
Two of these (McCall’s and Ladies’ Home Journal, folding this month) are dead, the others aren’t really flying off the shelves. Mainly because you can get better content, not localized in New York, penned without political agendas, and written by actual mothers that share your same situation in life, for free and updated far more than monthly. It’s known as “creative destruction” and the remaining magazines are doing their best to be “edgier,” because they actually believe that was their problem. The truth is that they are simply being outworked and are trapped in a model that ensures their demise.
At issue here is a ton of advertising dollars. Those magazines didn’t enjoy 100 year long swoons of success because of their brilliance, but because they were able to deliver ultra targeted advertising to head-of-household mothers. The need for that advertising hasn’t went away and will try to find a way to reach that audience. That is why there are so many “mommy bloggers” that are doing so well, and the reason why so many “professionals” use the term “mommy blogger” with a sneer. If you really wanted to save such a publication they would be reaching out and incorporating independent bloggers like SITS Girls and Blogher do. Eventually those dollars will funnel to where the eyeballs are, and they certainly aren’t on the magazine rack at the checkout aisle.