You’ve probably heard this echo across the interwebs: are blogs dead?
At one level, the question is right up there with chatter about email. It was supposed to die in the early 2000s, except that we’re all still using it and you can’t sign up to a social account or Pokémon Go without email.
That makes it sort of dead, but not dead… like a zombie.
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Here’s the thing; if you think blogs are dead, dying or even looking a bit on a pale – you’re missing some pretty important points.
Let me explain via a quick trip back into recent history.
Back in the early days when bloggers lived in the blogosphere and Web 2.0 was a thing, writing stuff online was kind of subversive.
We’re talking 2000 onwards when the likes of Dave Weiner and Robert Scoble shook up Silicon Valley with prophetic musings about how the rise of all-powerful bloggers would spell the end of media as we knew it.
These disruptive pioneers were using free Typepad and WordPress accounts to become self-publishers; and the New Media they were producing was an alternative to trade press and mainstream media. It also created a long tail of highly specialised content for all kinds of obscure hobbyists and interest groups, not to mention hours of random entertainment for bored employees.
Fast forward and we’ve launched so far into the social-meets-mobile universe that it’s easy to forget that, yes, these early days of the interwebs bloggers really were disruptive. And given that it continues to be a very bad time to be a mainstream publisher, it’s fair to say this disruption is ongoing.
The irony is, however, that blogs have reached their ultimate end game. New Media is old news, and the blogging platforms which were once anarchic outposts now play host to corporate and marketing content from brands and government departments.
Blogging isn’t dead. Blogging is mainstream – just like zombies.
It’s not actually slipping quietly into the background. It’s being overhauled and thrust into the limelight as marketers reinvent themselves as storytellers and capture the mindshare of increasingly distracted audiences.
And to be clear, that’s a really good thing.
To quote Marshall McLuhan; the medium IS the message. Blogs are just a different channel, but the stories they carry now look and feel the same as the stories on every other channel.
Great content and compelling ideas still matter, perhaps more than ever.
So what happens now? What’s the future for un-dead blogs in the social, hypermobile, 360 video, augmented reality era?
A quote from Terry Simpson Jr, a copywriter quoted by Contently caught my attention.
“I think blogging has evolved into marketing,” he said. “Blogging started out as personal diaries: Facebook and Twitter changed that to micro-blogging. At the same time, people have changed their consuming habits and forced companies to market more personally.”
By marketing, he means brand storytelling, and yes… he’s right.
Back in the day it was the revolutionaries and rabble-rousers writing about themselves in a virtual echo chamber. Now everyone’s in there shouting to be heard. Which makes it more important than ever to know why you’re there, what you’re hoping to say, and to whom.
Why? Because your audience – we the people with our own blogs, social accounts and email – are in charge.
We decide whether or not to tune in next week, or check out the millions of alternative sources of information, entertainment and edification.
The flipside for publishers and content brand creators of all types is that getting heard in the blogosphere is harder than it was in any other medium.
The solution? Great stories are more important than they’ve ever been – fabulous, engaging, interesting, relevant stories are the only way to get heard… and that’s disruptive.
The medium is still the message, but in these post-blogospheric times it turns out the message, or story, dominates the medium. McLuhan has been flipped, the audience is in charge, and the un-dead blog will never die… just like zombies.