Almost twelve years ago, I created my first blog. It was during the early days when most people had no idea what a blog was, and a few thought it was something you coughed up or came out of your nose. Much to my surprise, my first blog garnered overwhelming popularity from all corners of the globe. Don’t bother looking for clues. All my early blogs were anonymous and they’ve since vanished into the ether.
As a long-time friend often says, those were the “halcyon days” when you found other anonymous kindred spirits online, made connections through reciprocal blog reading, commenting, checking their RSS feed for updates if you were so inclined or simply visited their blogs daily. Yes, I met this friend through my original blog, and despite the distance, we’re still going strong.
Anyone who has been blogging for a long time would remember that blogs were about words. Good writing and storytelling compelled people to read and connect. Well-crafted words drew strangers in like a magnet. Unless you had a photoblog, photos came later, and slowly started creeping into blog posts.
When Twitter came along, it reduced communication to 140 characters. Some of my original blogger friends took it up and began neglecting their blogs. Those established friendships started to waver. Who wants to talk in 140 characters? Then Facebook followed and put a face to a few anonymous bloggers who chose to reveal themselves. Some connections continued, others were lost. Not everyone embraced the new world, particularly when anonymity was taken out of the equation. Blogs began to suffer at the expense of limited characters and the “look at me” syndrome then people were sucked into the vortex of “Liking” even when they often didn’t.
In those early days, we wrote engaging posts that prompted strangers to make connections. Now writing engaging articles or stories is not enough.
We have gone from being bloggers and writers to online marketers.
Today, whether you write a blog, run a website or publish an online magazine, you’re no longer just a blogger or a writer. You cannot rely on direct visits from loyal readers or RSS feed updates, you need to have a strategy in place to market and promote every post/blog/article on various social media channels. We post multiple times on Twitter because the medium has the attention span of a two year old. We post on our Facebook page in the hope of reaching our fan base only to be pushed into paying to promote every post. We flog Google +. Enough said. We post #foodporn on Instagram in the aim of directing followers to our blogs. We do the same on Pinterest. We set up email subscriptions and publish newsletters.
But it doesn’t end here.
Engagement, we are told, is key to “apparent” success so there is the need to engage on all our social media channels. We should like other people’s posts, leave a comment on their blogs and social media channels, share their blog posts on our pages, re-tweet their work, or to put it crudely, get into the twitter circle jerk where the same group re-tweets each others’ posts, often without clicking or reading. Rinse. Repeat. On all social media channels. Day in. Day out.
But that’s not enough for some who want to fuel their narcissism and self-importance. They buy followers and “likers” to inflate their popularity, then tout their importance in their media kits. Those fake followers and bought likes are as obvious as that errant apostrophe or in today’s social media parlance, that face screaming in fear emoji.
Add the time it takes to promote just the one article – notwithstanding paying for promotion – and the quality of writing is bound to suffer. It’s the triangle of expectation. No wonder we’re communicating with , and.
Is it still called blogging? Maybe… but not as we knew it.
If only we could go back to the days when we focussed on quality writing, relied on our trusted connections instead of spending more and more time marketing our words.
Halcyon days indeed.
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