Before I wrote a regular column, I thought it was bizarre that editors found it difficult to think of things to write about in their own Op-Eds. How could anyone struggle to express opinions?
Unfortunately, once I had my own column, the swagger deserted me, along with my entire stockpile of well-crafted arguments on a wide range of subjects. Or rather, the opinions were rudely undercut by the sudden need to back up my words with concrete examples and facts, rather than gut feelings and anonymous anecdotes. Meaningful columns are hard graft, and only a few really hit the mark.
This is why I marveled at the blog revolution and at the prolific nature of its early adopters, many of whom were not so-called professional writers. Day after day, many intrepid bloggers would bring volumes of fresh content to readers, often without any particular reward or recognition.
Lately, however, even the most productive bloggers have become absorbed by Twitter's ease and instant gratification. It is likely not a coincidence that some once-bustling blogs are updated less frequently, or with shorter posts than they used to have. But does this mean the blog has had its day?
“Popular bloggers have migrated to Twitter and have adopted it as a core platform for daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute updates,” says John Bell, MD of 360 Digital Influence and executive creative director at Ogilvy PR.
However, Bell adds, that does not mean blogs are heading for extinction, but rather taking on new characteristics. “What I've seen happen for me personally, and it's not atypical, is that the blog becomes the home base,” he explains, “because I'm aggregating Facebook and Twitter into my blog. Likewise, for many others the blog is not all about publishing 300- to 500-word observation pieces [as] it once was.”
Blogging is hard, compared to 140 characters of fun on Twitter. But Bell maintains that blogs continue to play an important role in the social media spectrum and are still a mainstay for such brands as Wells Fargo and Lenovo. “Blogs allow for a thought-leadership voice that is still identifiable for the brand,” he notes. Twitter, as great as it is, does not provide the thought-leadership vehicle so critical to building and sustaining reputation and trust.
Yes, blogging is hard because it includes all the “soft costs,” as Bell puts it, of reading, linking, thinking, responding, and writing, within the social media framework to demonstrate the commitment not just to the idea, but to the medium and its values. We should not leave blogs behind in the race for the next cool expression, but continue to push for metrics that demonstrate the value of this powerful tool.
Julia Hood is publishing director of PRWeek.