Is blogging dead?

I blog. I’ve blogged since the turn of the century. (I just love saying that!)

I love saying it, even though it makes me sound like I’m sitting in a bentwood rocker, creaking slowly back and forth, reflecting on my long-ago wonder years.

During the course of the last decade, it occurs to me that, when it comes to blogging, there are four distinct groups of people.

Early adopters:

    Some people understood the blogging concept from the get-go. They just “got” it. These were big-picture “Wow!” folks.

    There are some forward-thinking folks that fall into this category, but even those bright-eyed optimists in the early days of blogging were usually shocked at the outpouring of benefits and followers of this new format for online communications and (a bit later) for relationship-building.

Gee-whiz folks:

    Others, like me, took the plunge because I have a bad case of the “can’t help its.” This format, with the “coolage” factor of technology with an Internet platform from which I can climb on my soapbox proved irresistible. (It was called a “web log” back when I started.)

    I’ll admit that I did my blogging anonymously in the early days, before I was quite comfortable with this “complete transparency” concept.

    The folks in my group may or may not “get” how important blogging is to a small business, but they do it because… like any other opportunity to write… it must be done or because their inner geek cries out for it.

    The opportunity to publish my stuff in a WORLD-WIDE forum was just too alluring to ignore. I started with small, personal vignettes, and moved up to articles on technology, marketing, real estate, politics and personal opinions. Those of us in this group quickly discovered the many layers of benefits. Many of us became blogging evangelists.

The “but” folks:

    Some recognize that they NEED to blog, even if they aren’t exactly sure why. Maybe someone they trust told them they should. Maybe someone harassed them enough to get them started.

    Some members of this group, know they need to blog, they understand the importance, but they never seem to find the time.

    The members of this group usually don’t blog or at least they don’t blog for long. They are the reason that so many new blogs, like new businesses, fail in the first few months.

    There is always something a bit more important to do, or they genuinely doubt the long-term advantages. These are the same folks that have business leads sitting on their desk that are days, or weeks, old. They really intend to get to them, but they never quite manage to do so in a timely fashion. It’s sad.

    Case-study: I was meeting with a client this week. I’ve been preaching “blog” at this guy for over two years now. I even showed him a blogger in his own market a year ago and said, “This is your competition — he’s going to eat you alive because he blogs and you won’t.”

    His response? “I never heard of him.”

    (Note: a few months later, said competing blogger powned most of the best search terms in my client’s market.) The client ignored this and refused to discuss said blogger with me anymore. It became a not-so-silent point of contention.

    Suddenly, this week, he calls all excited.

    After agreeing to do regular blogging for 30 days — JUST this ONE month — he’s seeing a huge boost in his Google results on his key terms. Go figure. (I guess that 30-day challenge — which was my desperate final attempt to move him — was a better idea than I’d hoped!)

    “This blogging thing,” he tells me, “it really works!”

    “Oh?!?!” I reply, “this blogging thing? Really? Who’da thunk it?”

    “No really!!” he insists, all jazzed up and trying to explain that he’s now a convert.

    I roll my eyes silently, despite my quite audible huff, and am thankful that I’m not on webcam for this particular call.

    All I can say is it’s a good thing that he’s a couple states away, or I may have been tempted to hop in my little car, drive to his office and shake him with my bare hands until his teeth rattled.

    (Yes, I know that’s HORRIBLY unprofessional, but I don’t really care — that was my honest impulse.)

    The best I can hope is that he will now blog on a regular basis. He’s already agreed to craft his titles with effective SEO in mind and with more thoughtful consideration on how to grab more attention from his visitors. We had a tutorial on that this week.

    He has also endured “how to categorize” and “how to tag” tutorial sessions, so — who knows?!?! Maybe he finally has hopped the fence to become a believer. I guess stranger things have happened.

The nay-sayers:

    Others don’t understand blogging, don’t trust bloggers and will purposefully never give any credence to blogs and their creators.

    Case in point: My father. Just yesterday he and I had a conversation wherein he said, “I argued with him (a mutual friend) about this blog crap, and he’s like you… he thinks it’s great. I want MY news and information to come from a source that’s been vetted and checked and has at least had an editor look over it. I don’t care what someone without anything more than a computer and a website has to say about something.”

    And my response, as a long-time blogger was rather snippy (it WAS my father, after all), “Yeah, I see how wonderfully well-researched and balanced the national news is these days as a result of following your prescription for perfection.” (This was a continuation of an earlier and ongoing debate about the way the election and every other important news item is being covered — or not covered — by today’s media.) We like this debate (we must) because we have it often.

    He “humphed,” and I “humphed.”

    I reminded him that I’d been a journalist, a newspaper editor, and had been making my living as a writer and researcher for nearly ten years now and that I blogged.

    He summarily excused me from the “bloggers” category he was blasting. (There are some advantages to being an offspring — like being excused from a group of wayward souls by your parentals.)

    I “humphed!” again.

    His views however, are fairly common. Many people assume that online conversations are meaningless. They assume that bloggers don’t take the time to verify their sources. Sometimes that may be true. After all, it’s often true with journalists. (I know — I used to check the sources on some of my reporters’ stories before printing them.)

    Because he thinks blogs are unimportant, it never ceases to amaze him when I pop up in a Google search on the front page. I try to explain how and why, but I might as well be describing the attributes of magic.

    He now uses the “customer reviews” on his favorite websites, but flatly refuses to ever leave any feedback of his own. He won’t do it.

    So I know he understands the value of “collective” experience and collective thought being shared about specific computer products on, say, NewEgg.com (his favorite online vendor). But he feels no responsibility to reciprocate or participate in the building of that knowledge base. (I’m still working on that one with him.)

    To try to explain micro-blogging and twitter to my father makes him ready to fight. So, I give up.

The fact is, my father doesn’t really need blogging (he has me to listen to him on his soapbox) and he doesn’t need twitter (although he’d enjoy it and learn a lot if he’d permit himself to try). Pops doesn’t run a small business and he can just forget about the conversations on the web and the cutting edge thinking and continue digesting the pablum that the national media outlets dispense. (And, I told him as much.)

My clients… and YOU — if you are working on the web… can’t afford to ignore it. Blogs aren’t dead. They are stronger than ever, it’s just not as easy to own (pown) your niche now as it was a few years ago.

And despite what you may have heard, the new microblogs, relationship marketing, and other forms of social media haven’t replaced blogging. They have augmented blogging and have brought a whole new, shorter format to the online, immediate communications realm. Personally, I find it all quite alluring.

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