I am sponsoring Valeria Maltoni’s feed content this week at Conversation Agent. Valeria knows that while I’m a longtime user of services such as Twitter, I’m a firm believer that best online investment businesses and individuals can make is in the cultivation of their own webspace. That’s one of the reasons I’ve recently consolidated several small sites at ChrisBaskind.com.
Maybe it’s because I was a web publisher before I ever started building sites for other people. But I’m frequently asked if I’m concerned that blogs seem to be going the way of the Age of Sail, steam locomotives, and the dodo bird.
Blogs — and by this term, I mean any small content-focused, web-based publishing organ — have never been static affairs. Hit the Wayback machine, and you’ll see that blogs have always adapted themselves to technology and the audience landscape. These days, even solo publishers can produce an online product which rivals the graphic sophistication and feature set of major, corporate-run portals. That’s a far cry from the stark, text-based personal journals of even a few years ago.
It’s argued, though, that the atomization of time and attention resulting from the growth of Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other media channels has rendered the blog obsolete. I think precisely the opposite is the case, especially for business and professional publishers. It’s this very proliferation which will drive the growth of blogs through the coming decade.
Five factors driving blog growth
- You can’t keep up with the explosion of new media channels. It’s great that companies see the value of online media, and are staffing a response. But this is a bottomless pit, and there are limits to the number of channels and outposts and company or individual can cover. There’s always some Shiny Object in the wings, but not usually a matching budget line item.
- Blogs are the natural hub of a media channel strategy. You may not have the resources to be heard across the entire media landscape, but you can certainly be the Master of Your Own Domain. Viewing media channels as outposts and driving attention back to your own community is a far more efficient strategy than growing mature communities everywhere.
- Blogs are not subject to the terms of service and continuity of external sites. Today’s hot destination may be tomorrow’s Deadpool floater. Months of engagement, resources, and community building can be annihilated (without anything resembling die process) by a single spurious copyright infringement claim. Media channels are disposable. Your brand is not.
- Blogs provide a better environment for sales-facing conversations. If you can engage potential customers on your own turf, everything you need for a sales conversion can be close at hand: Product details, community recommendations, and the e-commerce nuts and bolts of making an actual purchase. While this isn’t every publisher’s goal, vertical integration of resources can drive a conversation towards action.
- Blogs provide enduring value. It’s true that media channels lend search ranking to your brand name, and additionally serves to contextualize the nature of your brand to search engines. But there no substitute for a well-defined content destination, and nothing which better describes your company and services to human beings — rather than just search bots. Every book deserves a cover, and that’s the function of a mature blog. It’s where you tell your story.
Into the future
I expect blogs will continue to evolve, both from the perspective of visitors and publishers. The automatic customization of content — based on user behavior, identity, and preference — is already underway. On the backend, Content Management Systems will become more modular and role-oriented, allowing publishers to train and maintain for their particular needs. It’s an exciting time.
Blogs are here to stay. Those who say otherwise might not be.