Blogs are not dead… yet
Last month we looked at growth trends for each of the big social media publishing channels, namely, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Not all of you agreed with our conclusion: that blogging is an activity that, at best, is leveling off. At worst, it’s an activity in decline. The New York Times is now jumping on this discussion meme, declaring that today’s twentysomethings no longer blog, a further sign that fewer people can find the time.
Before we get into the Times analysis, it would be good to revisit the graphic we made last year that shows blogging growth rate at a much less explosive trajectory than that of Facebook and Twitter. Here it is:
The Times picks up on similar findings, pointing out that the decline in the launch of new blogs –and, the likely decision by bloggers to pull the plug on their online diary that it coincides with – is occurring at the expense of the growth of Facebook and Twitter. They lead the story in with a great anecdote about an young film-maker who no longer posts to his blog, but instead to Facebook where he is guaranteed to get feedback. The Times then cites the following:
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.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg takes issue with the Times‘ story headline. He points out that:
the stats show all the major blogging services growing — even Blogger whose global “unique visitors rose 9 percent, to 323 million,” meaning it grew about 6 Foursquares last year alone. (In the same timeframe WordPress.com grew about 80 million uniques according to Quantcast.
I have to agree with Matt. To say blogging is a dying past-time is simply a wrongheaded conclusion. Blogs are excellent venues to do more in-depth analysis (as I’m doing here) and show off your expertise in a given area. One of our clients is the Vatican’s travel arm, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi. The blog we built for them on Posterous is the most trafficked part of our online community as our writers regularly post insightful discussions and back stories about some of the most famous places to visit around Rome and Vatican City. In short, the blog has become a resource of sorts for religious scholars and spiritual travelers and tourists alike. Yes, the posts are highlighted on the Facebook channel and on Twitter, but it is the blog that is driving discussion and participation at the early stages of ORP’s social media engagement strategy.
In summary, the blog is still a vital tool for organizations and brands (and even twentysomething film-makers when they can find the time) to tell their story. I certainly wouldn’t advise any of the above to kill off the blog or forgo blogging altogether. Let’s not write that obit just yet.