Do Blogs Still Serve a Purpose?
I noticed today that I haven’t written a post here in quite a while. Not since Thanksgiving! And it got me to thinking a bit about the question above, Do blogs still serve a purpose? With social media being so influential in this country, who still reads blogs? I certainly don’t. I get all of my information that used to come from blogs via either email (most of which gets deleted unread) or via social media, specifically Facebook.
Are there any blogs of substance? That are so informative or entertaining that you have to read them and can’t get that information anywhere else? Not that I know of, but feel free to let me know of any. For example, I follow Heather Cox Richardson on Facebook. I look forward to her posts, as she is very smart and insightful. But I don’t need to go to her blog or receive her newsletter since she posts the same material on Facebook. Or Robert J. Sawyer, a science fiction writer I follow on Facebook. He has a blog on his website, but until today, I’ve only been there by accident. I enjoy reading and interacting with his posts on Facebook, though. I might have to check out his blog more, though, since he isn’t sharing that content on FB (that I’ve noticed).
I often point to Rob’s FB page as an example of an author who does a great job interacting with fans and engaging them in his books. Similarly, my own client, K. B. Wagers does a great job on Twitter.
I think the job of creating a website that becomes a destination for users is a tough one. You need a lot of content. You need to update that content regularly, and you need content that people want to talk about and not just read about. I remember being on GEnie, a DOS-based BBS that was popular with the SF&F community in the 1990s. What engaged me were the conversations. Reading posts that I didn’t have an opinion regarding were far less interesting. Which, of course, is a huge part of what makes FB and Twitter so popular. You can talk and, well, fight about things. The actor, Joshua Malina, in the West Wing Weekly podcast, talks about how he enjoys stirring up trouble (he may actually say he likes to start fights) on social media. Let’s face it: social media has become sport. We all have our moments where we laugh at our own pithy comments, revel in our wit and sarcasm, and vent our anger. In other words, we trash talk like players on a court, trying to bring down our opponents. Should it be this way? Probably not. There is very little social about this kind of discourse. I have lost friends because of things one of us wrote on Facebook. I’ve unfriended others who couldn’t stop trolling. I’ve blocked people I don’t know, who started attacking me for commenting on public posts by politicians or news organizations. Who hasn’t?
What does that all mean for blogs? If you have something to say and don’t want to fight about what you have to say, a blog can be a better way to communicate that, but when you want to get the word out about your new blog post, how are you going to do it? Social media, of course, where it may be harder to avoid comments that lead to negative feedback. Vicious circle, eh?