…or, for that matter, is Technorati, and even blogging, as a medium, still relevant?
I used to eagerly look forward to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere (the 2010 report), till 2 years ago. Since last year, I’m not entirely sure if this yearly exercise is valid anymore.
Why this disenchantment? Quite a few reasons, actually.
1. Is blog a meaningful category at all, anymore?
A blog was meant to be an easy online vehicle to air one’s views. These days, blog as a medium, is being mauled by more easier tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. They are easier to set up and start, though I do agree that they may not give the level of independence one needs, in terms of readership, metrics etc.
2. Communicating in a vacuum
Most bloggers start with a great zeal, only to abandon it after seeing not many readers for their efforts and worse, zero/negligible number of comments. I agree that comments are not the main reason for blogging, but just like a media publication closing shop due to lack of readers (and consequently, lack of financial backing to continue producing it), it is that much more easy to simply stop blogging when there’s a period of inactivity from the readership perspective.
3. Rethinking the home base vs. outpost split
Chris Brogan blogged about using a blog or a website as the home base of all original content and using social tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, among others like social bookmarking tools, as outposts to promote the content made available in the home base. This sounded very logical to me, back in January 2010, when he posted it, but now, I’m wondering if it’s time to rethink this split.
As our attention spans are getting ridiculously shorter, day after day, people seem to be using even microblogging platforms (and other shorter formats like Tumblr and Posterous) as legitimate home base options. You do know about film producers worrying about tweets after the preview and first show affecting their film’s chances, right?
4. Are blogs social at all?
Yes, there are more tools to make blogs social, these days, but majority of blogs still get minimal/negligible comments. I have interacted with quite a few leading, tier 1 bloggers globally and many rue the fact that comments these days are hard to come by. As an alternative, tweeted opinions and mentions about a blog post are added to the comments section to show some strength.
5. Building a readership vs. ready readership
If you notice many social media gurus (there, I just abused a lot of people online, at one stroke! Apologies.) and alleged influencers, they, besides blogging on their own, also ‘contribute’ blog post-like pieces to leading publications online. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but isn’t it more like a relatively lesser known actor wanting to act in an otherwise high-profile film so that he could gain from the film’s inherent reach? For all others who do not have the privilege of being invited by leading online publications to write for them, the reach via their personal networks, built after considerable effort is anyway available. But, even here, it is still a lot of effort to build a readership. Read point 2, from here.
6. Other reasons – advertising revenue, SEO etc.
No point even going into this, since the numbers are incredibly low. But I should add that I do make decent money from the advertising in my other two blogs (this one doesn’t have advertising…by choice)…decent enough to fund 3 kids’ yearly expenses via WorldVision.
My disenchantment is not with the concept of blogging itself – it can’t be, after all, I blog almost 5 times every week in this blog and more times in my other music blog, week after week! I promote individual posts (and never me, the individual), within reasonable limits, cognizant of annoyance levels in my personal outpost networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A friend on Twitter even asked me what motivates me to produce such detailed, researched blog posts – it is partly personal branding and partly an urge to get my opinion out and hence stand out amongst others.
So, blogging per se may not be dying, but a blog now merely seems to be one small part in a larger ecosystem, in my opinion. It used to rule once, and back then Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere made solid sense. Now, it is but one tool amongst many through which people communicate their opinions online…size of those opinions be damned. Heck, even PR agencies, who once considered blogger outreach as the halo’ed social media activity, now look for influential Twitter and Facebook users to speak about their clients!
What do you think about the State of the Blogosphere report? Does it still hold relevance in any meaningful way? Hasn’t the proliferation of other, shorter forms of communicating online dislodged blogs from their position to something that is just part of the overall picture in the Opinion Economy (My term! And, here’s my explanation!)?