Twitter has not killed traditional blogging or long-form social media.
That 140-character medium often called "tweeting" actually adds another reason to blog. That's because Twitter.com provides the platform on which we can link our blog posts.
Blogs still remain front-line soldiers in any social media outreach. That's because, as every expert on SEO [search engine optimization] will tell you, blogs attract those search engine crawlers and spiders. Those experts range from Paul Chaney ["The Digital Handshake"] to Rebecca Lieb ["The Truth About Search Engine Optimization."]
Search engines "read" words and words are what blogs provide. The graphics might be cute but they are ignored by the crawlers and spiders. That pull force can be enhanced by researching and using the right keywords and making that sprinkling-in graceful. Be ham-handed [called "stuffing"] and the search engines will ignore the site.
On page 108 of her 2009 book on SEO, Lieb says:
"[Given blogs's ability to attract search engines] it is no surprise that in recent years, many successful and profitable publishers have built editorial products entirely on commercial blog platforms."
Like every aspect of social media, blogging has changed. Mentored by Chaney, I began publishing articles about blogging in 2004. That was soon after I had read about then-Wonkette Ana Marie Cox in THE NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE. I got it she and early adopters of blogging such as Dave Winer were media revolutionaries. By early 2005, I had set up my first blog.
The "rules" [every movement has its rules] back then were:
- No commercial purpose
- Short, as in 350-words or less
- Tight niche focus
- Communication is a conversation [see "The Cluetrain Manifesto"]
- Pass on the ethos of sharing [Marketing expert Toby Bloomberg still is practicing that. Back in 2005, she helped launch 1000s of us newbies. Right now Bloomberg - firstname.lastname@example.org - is publishing a book on social media totally through Tweets]
- Oprah-like transparency.
Currently, blogs are a mainstream business tool, at least for small business. According to a McKinsey survey, reports Chaney, only about a third of large-company executives invest their time into blogging.
The genre is loose as to length and format.
While the niche should be tight, often we push the boundaries when our site has a lot of Google juice. For example, we might tend to introduce a new service or product or point of view on an existing site when we could have started a new one. We could, though, have gotten that new one getting its own Google juice through links to and from it to the existing sites.
And the excessive self-disclosure ["Feel fat today"] became tedious and essentially disappeared.
What stays the same has been the tone and content of a conversation. That means horizontal, open, expressive, opinionated, presenting just enough evidence to convince, and ability to be influenced by reader input.
Also there is the spirit of giving. Even though capitalism has embraced blogging, it remains sort of a family affair. We look out for our own. We give. We take. No surprise the language about blogging is about "communities." Not target markets.
How to achieve your goal in blogging? That might be advocate a position, fundraise, build a brand, manage a crisis, research, collaborate, or even sell? Or a combo platter of several. Here are some recommendations:
- Start low-profile. You don't know what you're doing. Online communications involve trial and error. Offline we were used to set formulas. A useful read on this is "Multichannel Marketing" by Akin Arikan. It tells you something that its foreword is by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers.
- When you got the tone and content parts down [you know this by the traffic, comments, and if you're starting to achieve your goal], let us know you're here.
- Post often throughout the day, using links to high-traffic sites, topical references, and brandnames.
- Leverage the blog as the platform for your more general social media outreach. A blog is just a part. You are denying yourself reach if you stick to only blogging. There are podcasting, web sites, mobile, YouTube, tweeting, email blasts, social networking such as on Facebook and LinkedIn, and e-media releases [Pitch Engine, PRWeb], e-books, and print books promoted by social media [A print book is still the price of entry.]
- Analyze what the leaders in social media, including blogging, are doing and not doing.
As for making a living as a blogger? With the glut of writers in major metro areas, freelance bloggers are only receiving about $20 a post. Those who put help-wanted on Craigslist would like to offer lots less. Even companies which hire "bloggers" really want communicators who have social media down cold. That's where the money is: Social media. Also the demand, even in ghostwriting.