Again over the holiday season, there was a minor kerfuffle about whether blogging is dead. Kicked off by social media wonk Jeremiah Owyang, pundits from all sides came weighing in on the topic. Does it matter? Should professionals care? It is always worth looking at the two or more sides of an impassioned argument so I’d say ‘yes’ – go look, but with caution. Side Note: Jeremiah’s post includes a bunch of very useful links on the topic. Check them out.
You have to be careful when seeing this type of headline in Tweets and other media. For a start, this is not a new topic but something that pops up every year or so. Check this Google search to see what I mean. It is an artefact of a largely Silicon Valley dominated marketing conversation culture that rarely has direct meaning beyond those who are trumpeting the *whatever* statement. However, for those of us who gaze upon these things trying to discern relevance in the professional world, there are some nuances worth exploring.
The UK professional sector has largely ignored blogging and other forms of social media. Plenty of reasons can be found not least of which is: ‘We have better things to do with our time like…serve customers.’ Ergo it is irrelevant. Fair point but in my view that only holds true if you have a sustainable practice that works well with what you already do. I”d argue that is a precarious position for at least 99% of practitioners. Here are 10 reasons why I’d argue the game is far from over. If anything, it has barely got off the starting blocks for professionals.
1. A number of professionals were lulled into the idea that blogging is another form of marketing. Well yes – but as Hugh MacLeod says:
…create more real work, ACTUAL PRODUCT (in my case, cartoons) and the social media will fall into place, but only AFTER I’ve done the thing that actually pays the bills. Getting all obsessed with social media BEFORE you’ve created something of real, lasting value is putting the cart before the horse.
Most of those professional market initiatives I’ve seen have failed, leaving practitioners disillusioned and often out of pocket at the expense of so-called ‘social media experts.’ Hint: socmed experts don’t exist. They’re a figment of the PR industry’s imagination.
2. As many observe, blogging is hard. It requires genuine effort and that is harder still at a time when economic pressures force us all into figuring out ways of staying afloat. None of us are immune from that problem. While that might kill off some, it should act as an encouragement to others.
3. Blogging does not provide instant fame and fortune. Unless you attract the continued attention of a kingmaker you’re going to have to slog it out, sometimes over years. But…
4. The world is more competitive today which is turn makes it harder to get attention. That’s the perceived wisdom but I’d argue the opposite in the professional world. The fact so few have really made a mark suggests to me there is a golden opportunity for professionals to strike out. It’s never been easier, the variety of potential content whether written, spoken or on video is endless. It is up to you to make your mark.
5. In the professional world, blogging does not live in isolation. If you view it as a subtle form of marketing tied to a broader communications strategy then it will work. But you have to see it as a piece of a bigger puzzle that has a strategy, goals, objectives and outcomes baked into its rationale. Anything else won’t work.
6. I’ve long argued that professionals under utilize the assets they have. Blogging is one way to, for example, surface your expertise on helping artists, farmers, car mechanics, pick-your-specialist-area. What are you waiting for?
7. Too many professionals default to jargon or language only they understand. Unless your audience really are the tax managers of the FT100 then why would you post details about your interpretation of the latest Finance Act? But then there is a place for that kind of thing.
8. Regardless of how professionals feel about communication, blogging still provides the easiest way to develop content that has the ability to reach the whole world. If that sounds grandiose then I’ll let you into a wee secret: although written for a largely UK based audience, AccMan has more US than UK readers. It has a fair few reading from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and, increasingly – China. Who would have thought? And yes – comments come from around the world as well. How good is that?
9. Blogging can take you to some unexpected places and that’s a good thing. If you thought your business model was pretty good then you might easily find that what you say in blogs takes you in a direction you did not anticipate. Experience suggests that is almost always profitable. Here’s an example: Unit4 have asked me to MC their upcoming customer conference in February. It’s a two day engagement and yes, they’re paying for my time. Note: they don’t get to buy my opinion, there’s a big difference. They’ve actively engaged me in developing the conference keynote content which makes me very happy. Think about it. The fact we’ve come to an agreement is really strange given my well known stance on ‘customers first, vendors second’ approach to topics. Plus I almost never talk about them. Plus I rarely speak in public though that will change in 2012. See what I mean?
10. Blogging is one sure fire way to differentiate yourself. Taking opposing positions for the sake of it isn’t sustainable but arguing counterpoint in a practical and demonstrable way shows that you don’t live in an ivory tower but that you connect with the people you wish to reach, however large or small that audience might be. It is that human connection with a tiny slice of like minded soules that makes it all worthwhile. Trust me – I know that to be true.
11. Relationships are the foundation upon which professionals live or die. Blogging provides a superb medium for expressing that relationship, enhancing it, nurturing it. What’s not to like?
12. I think there’s a fallacy among professionals that blogs can counter. Passion for a topic, expressed judiciously, brings out the very best in people. Think how you feel when you win a tax case or when you successfully help a client raise much needed funds. Did that happen by being a cold fish? Of course not. While some believe that passion has gone out of our socially mediated forms of self expression, I believe professionals are in a strong position to claim a higher ground. Your blog could be the way that is seen by the world.
Picture credit: snapped from this video via Horse for Sources