Marketers don’t be fooled – blogging still isn’t dead – the proof

So last week was rather busy, the team at Prohibition and I went out to the CIPR Pride Awards for Yorkshire & Lincolnshire and thankfully we scooped another award – this year it was “Best Consumer Relations Campaign” for a campaign we did for Interflora. However, before that I was discussing the digital landscape with a potential employee, and they expressed their thoughts to me that blogging was now dead. This struck me as a bold statement, they were younger than me and although I know blogging is not in its 2000s hey day – I still felt it was a powerful tool in the right hands. So what’s the rationale behind the claim it’s dead or even dying? And what is the logic when people keep proclaiming the death of them?

The meteoric rise of the blog began in the early 2000’s. Giants like the Huffington post started their lives as simple blogs, and it was a time when they were cropping up everywhere, covering every subject from PR, marketing through to technology (Techcrunch is still a big favourite of mine)– it was an exciting time and blogging influencers popped up all over the place. Not to mention the mummy bloggers – if you work in PR you know what I mean.

Once a fairly alien concept to the people of our beloved communications industry, the blogosphere grew and grew, as people began to find their online voice, and jump out from behind the camera. It quickly became a fundamental element of the interactivity of the social web. In my mind it was one of the first platforms of social media and it still acts as a hub for many online influencers today.

Blogs in the traditional sense, do indeed to seem to be fewer in number, and people appear to be reading less of them but is that just me thinking that? Yet to proclaim 2017 as the death of blogging is naïve, and it’s important to understand why. Those of us that have been blogging since this early days (2003ish) have seen many people claiming the death of the blogosphere. These are most likely the same people that proclaimed platforms like MySpace, Vine, Bebo and Friends Reunited were the next big thing and would kill them off – yet blogs are still here.

Blogging by definition is a regularly updated web page either personal or on a specific topic, often expressed in an informal one on one style. This premise, once exclusive to traditional blogs, has now expanded into a huge array of outlets. Blogging has spawned a wealth of new forms of media and even apps. Twitter itself is a ‘micro-blogging’ platform but that is now struggling with a massive sense of identity as people fight back against trolls and so the team are Twitter are looking for ways to attract the SnapChat audience. The rise of vlogs, Instagram and web platforms like WordPress are all in themselves an extension of the old school blog.

The blog hasn’t died, it has evolved and still is evolving. It is no longer a static page with long drawn out verbose posts, it’s a category — covering all which allows the individual or company to express and share their thoughts on any topic they wish. Better still it allows us to express our personalities – some of the lifestyle blogs are a great example of this. Those working in PR out there reading this, will be all over blogging as part of a thought leadership platform for their clients, so they know the power they can hold.

We are blogging when we tweet, when we share a particular image with a description, when we record a video or hit Facebook live and when we write a traditional article and pop it on the latest version of WordPress. All of these elements are now intertwined, each a different form and extension of a blog. It is called the hub and spoke approach and it is still in operation today. We all want to touch the latest shiny social media platform, and test and measure it, but take a look at Vine and Twitter – you need to stay fun and relevant.

But what does this mean for those like myself in the PR profession? Blogger outreach is a key element of an engagement strategy, does this reduction and shift in traditional blogs mean PR firms have to go back to the drawing board? In short, no. Blogger outreach can be replaced with strategic ‘influencer outreach’, yet even this relabeling is superficial as its just the platform. As I said earlier, the premises are much the same, just with added varieties of platforms and creativity.

To reinforce my point, here are the official latest statistics from WordPress, just one blogging platform, reveal the following:

  1. Over 409 million people view more than 23.8 billion pages each month.
  2. Users produce about 65.3 million new posts and 45.3 million new comments each month.
Where in the world is WordPress.com used in 2016 and in what languages?
  1. English: 71%
  2. Spanish: 4.7%
  3. Indonesian: 2.4%
  4. Portuguese (Brazil): 2.3%
  5. French: 1.5%
  6. Russian: 1.3%
  7. German: 1.2%
  8. Italian: 1%
  9. Turkish: 0.7%
  10. Dutch: 0.6%

If you still want to see how people are using WordPress, right this second you should check out this rather cool interactive map which has been mashed up with Google Maps – I love it.

image

I believe blogging is not only alive and well, but thriving, sure it’s not just the geeks anymore – it’s not the coolest platform in town but it’s important. Some people don’t do it anymore and have moved to hounding you on Snapchat but there are clearly lots of individual and businesses telling their stories out there so long may it continue.

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