Blog Strategy: Strict Intervals vs Quality Content
This is the first in a series of Social Media/Web Strategy Articles that I am going to be writing over the next few months. The first topic is blog strategy. You might be thinking that the blog and blog strategy topic is quite dead and that it is old news. We figured that out years ago right? I would say that it is not dead at all. Rather, it is evolving past a critical turning point right now and is relevant in the evolution of technology for quite a few reasons.
Weblog Software is Maturing
Today when I was recycling old papers in my office, I stumbled across the installation instructions I had printed for WordPress Version 1.1, the second blog I ever created. The first was more of a PHP news posting board then a fully featured blog. I looked at this piece of paper with a kind of nostalgia, flipped through the instruction pages of the [already!] yellowing pages and contemplated what had changed in blog technology since that time. The blogging software platforms have become faster, easier, cheaper, more extensible and sophisticated then they were just a few short years ago. But what changed them? As the software has grown so has the strength of the blogging movement and it’s impacts in the real world. There is also a direct correlation between the growth/improvement of the blogging software and the strength/size of the blogging community. The evolution has happened because of the explosion of online communities centered about a common task – creating awesome social software that empowers the end users (prime example weblogs).
Community Influences Software Maturity
The maturation of blogging communities is closely correlated to the evolution and advancement of blogging software and the strategies that arose with them. The depth, strength, and continuous contributions of the people working on a common cause is what powers the social software today. It is the community that drives rich features, functionality and determines the longevity or relevance of the software in a rapidly changing webscape. Got “great software” but no community? — it’s not going to cut it in the post social media 2010. No community and your software is DOE (Dead On Evolution).
Blog Strategy Is Evolving, Evolve Yours!
I have written and created a lot of blogs. Enterprise 2.0 blogs, photoblogs, personal blogs, business blogs, blogs as microsites or for specific projects etc. There are cookie cutter ways that marketers and designers create blogs and mass market them to targeted businesses. They do this because their business is based on volume and repetitive simple processes. These churning iterations create the same type of blog only with some variation of content and form. Even if the blog looks wildly cool or appears different [thank you CSS], the tactics that are taught by various strategists remain relatively the same causing more sameness or similar trends inside the blogosphere and in related industries. Unfortunately blogs and blog strategies have become increasingly homogeneous (with a few choice exceptions).
Having a Blog is Not Enough, Implement Better Blog Strategies
It used to be that simply having a blog gave you a competitive advantage. Having a blog is no longer a one-up on your competition. Going one further, simply having blog and “a blog strategy” is not enough anymore either. You need a compelling and persuasive reason to have one. Why? Because the level of effort and the strategy needed to effectively maintain one has gone way up. Why has it gone up? Because the sheer number of blogs growing everyday — at what feels like an exponential rate — has increased noise in the signal to noise ratio. An increasingly noisy and convoluted conversation makes ineffectiveness inevitable. The finite amount of prime time a person has to spend on blogs, coupled with mounting work loads [thanks economy!] and pressures from the scaling of the blogosphere is going to push us past new social media tipping points, changing things in the blog game this year.
Maintaining Time Intervals vs Creating Quality Content
I know that many blog strategists and “social media rockstars” (check those resumes) will tell you that you must pick and maintain a blogging interval. And though they were sort of right at the time (3-4 years ago when there were not so many blogs), the social times are changing. This strategy of keeping a rigid interval, has become the main culprit in contributing to the signal to noise problem. This is because most people do not write well or write great quality content every week of their lives. It is a simple fact of human life, business and creative writing. Think about things like writers block, life events, professional priorities, client demands, family, emergency situations and technical problems. For these reason and many more, I want to debunk the myth of the blog interval. Chasing the interval is not a strategy. It is an unsustainable (sometimes really expensive) tactic that is a sure recipe for noise, barf blogging (regurgitating other famous bloggers’ content in different words that mean exactly the same thing), pathetic marketing drivel and pointless posts that in the grand scheme of things — amount to absolutely nothing. And when they register as a nothing on the search engines over time (are not sticky) and get buried on search beneath quality articles all of that is just a further proof of the truth. We don’t need more blogging, we need better blogging. We don’t need more bloggers, we need more skillful and creative bloggers posting when it counts – not posting to post.
What Type of Interval Are You Creating, How Does it Affect Your Type of Blog?
When examining the notion of the interval, also think of the incentives behind the type of blog that is popular. What I am getting at here is that most of these blogs operate off of specific web traffic patters, ad models, clicks and eyeballs. The intervals directly line up with the model of creating a particular pattern of traffic around generating money via ads, a predictability or what the strategist and marketers will argue as a “consistency thing.” I will argue that what they are creating is only one type of consistency centered around a certain type of blog. The blog and the blog strategy you choose for 2010 could be very different then that model. Perhaps it could be a way of differentiating yourself from your competition or peers. Perhaps it could be a way of getting out from under an untenable marketing dictated blog schedule, focus your efforts on higher priority (i.e. making new products, providing better services, innovating, or improving health and well being). Perhaps it is a way of breaking that pattern and finding your own in the same way that you first found your voice when you started blogging. Or you can keep doing what you have done, what you have been told, what everyone else in bloggerville is doing and has done. Because we all know that is how people become really successful right? Choose your own adventure.
Crossroads – A Chance To Blog Something Different
Here is another idea of what consistency can mean in the context of a strategy and also the idea for a new direction that blogging could take this year. It is really simple. Produce higher quality content even if it means you post less often (violating the interval rule), and cultivate higher quality conversation whenever you do publish. A web strategy can really be that simple. Don’t just write to hear yourself typing and echo conversation at yourself. Write blogs because it is relevant to what is happening right now, or because it is a missing piece of conversation or content that fills a needed gap. And most importantly take a the path less blogged: because you want to.
Everything in this article also directly applies to the microblogosphere and Twitterville. In fact it goes double!