Are blogs dead? The short answer is “no.” Like Paul McCartney in 1969, blogs are very much alive, and they have a long and fruitful life ahead of them. However, skeptics love to question the value of various digital platforms in turn, which has the added benefit of keeping us all on our toes.
Blogs play a distinct and important role for brands in the digital landscape. Let’s take a closer look at why they will remain relevant for years to come.
Blogging has longevity.
The first blog was established in 1994. It was a college student’s personal homepage that contained periodic updates. If that sounds familiar to you, you are probably also a member of Gen X. The term weblog was coined in 1997 and shortened to “blog” a few years later. One of the earliest news-slash-political blogs, the Drudge Report, gained overnight notoriety when it broke the Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
Blogging didn’t become a household term till Blogger took off in the early 2000s. Simple HTML editors made it easy for anyone to launch a blog. As a result, countless blogs popped up that were personal diaries shared with friends (or strangers, or no one at all). Amid this confessional avalanche, a few high-profile examples stood out, including Dooce, Huffington Post, and Perez Hilton.
News and political organizations saw blogs’ potential. Brands were a little slower to follow, and the formula for success was complicated by the advent of YouTube and social media. However, it’s an undeniable fact that blogs have more longevity than any other digital platform except for websites themselves.
Blogs are flexible.
As noted above, the first blogs were basically diaries. The website owner might have added the date and a photo if they were feeling fancy.
As internet speeds increased, websites became more sophisticated. Correspondingly, blogging platforms such as Blogger and WordPress came through with more widgets and capabilities. Today, a blog can be what you make it. Simple text-based entries still add a ton of value for brands cultivating a strong digital presence. Photos, infographics, and illustrations add depth and context. And multimedia content including slideshows and videos provide more diverse and exciting content. The blogs of 2020 are not your (Gen X) mother’s blogs.
Blogs are an important research resource.
We all scour the internet every day for trivia, insights, facts, and figures. Some sources are authoritative, and some aren’t. (In fact, many blogs aren’t.) But all are part of the digital information landscape. Thoughtful scholars and commentators review a diversity of digital and print literature. As such, it’s important that we continue to be able to access blogs and other digital resources, past and present.
Just as we benefit from the knowledge we find on the internet, it’s important that we contribute to it, as well. One of the easiest ways to accomplish both? Blogs.
Blogs are de facto archives.
Some see digital assets as disposable. We disagree. Blogs and other web content offer valuable insights into corporate innovations, leadership, and creativity – from a year ago, 10 years ago, and even 20 years ago. Tossing blogs in the garbage would have a similar effect as cutting a person out of a staff photo or shredding a financial report from 2016. It’s a bad idea.
Some brand storytelling experts see the digital black hole as an urgent call to action to publish content traditionally. That’s a good idea, but it’s not enough. Digital preservation is a must as digital assets continue to amass. Advocates must help business leaders understand the ongoing value of digital assets and prioritize digital preservation, financially and culturally.
How can we advocate for digital preservation? By producing high-quality digital content, making sure it reaches the right people, and ensuring that these people understand this content’s place in the digital ecosystem. (Too meta?) Blogs are a modest but mighty tool in this endeavor.
“Blog” is a misnomer.
Professional writers, subject-matter experts, and commentators wrote and published thoughtful content on an endless array of topics long before the internet existed. They still do – in newspapers, magazines, academic journals, textbooks, guides and pamphlets, and almanacs.
What’s the major difference? The internet made publishing faster and easier, and as websites and blogs proliferated, it became harder to discern the difference between quality and fluff.
In the past 10 years or so, we’ve gotten better at filtering out the fluff and producing high-quality content. In light of this, I propose that we retire the word “blog.” This term still evokes an image of the Wild West days of blogging and not the ubiquitous resource of today. Let’s use terms that are more fitting: article, paper, commentary, analysis. Only then can regularly published digital content fully overcome the stigma of early blogging and assume its rightful role as content asset and bellwether of change – a role that is platform agnostic.
At Consummate Prose, we love great content regardless of where it’s published. If you do, too, let’s talk. Contact us today to learn more about how blogs and other content platforms can help you build your brand.