Despite Pew Research study, blogs are a viable marketing tool
The New York Times on Sunday reported on a Pew Research study that finds blogging has declined by half among teens. But the Times' headline, "Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter," can be misinterpreted. I don't think blogging is dying... not at all.
Before Twitter and Facebook gained popularity, young people saw blogging as a way to express themselves and share diary-like thoughts with the world. Soon after, others -- including marketers -- began blogging as a way to share information with customers and prospects and as a way to (pardon the use of jargon) "engage" with customers. Blogging also became, for many professionals like me, a way to build an online presence and demonstrate knowledge and expertise in a given area.
Many of those who used blogs as an open-book diary or personal journal have migrated to Twitter and Facebook, where no heavy thinking or the heavy lifting of extensive writing is necessary. In fact, Twitter, with its 140-character limit, seems perfectly suited for so much of the inane chatter that dominates social media. Better to let it clog up Twitter and Facebook than to have a few more pointless ramblings in the blogosphere.
I do sometimes tweet to share a thought or refer people to something interesting online, but mostly I use Twitter and Facebook as a platform to pomt people to my blog. And marketers can use 140 characters on Twitter to get readers to visit a company blog, where a well-written and thoughtful dialogue can be conducted.
The Pew report notes that as teens are losing interest in blogging, the longer form of expression is picking up with middle age and older adults. Among 34 - 45-year olds online, the percentage who blog has risien six percentage points in the past two years, to 16 percent. Among 46 - 55 year olds, blogging has increased by five percentrage poinmts, to 11 percent.
Maybe many of us in middle age and beyond feel no need to tell the world every time we go to the supermarket, nor do we need to tell readers online if we can't decide between hazelnut or vanilla latte when we go to Starbucks.
There's so much more to life, and blogs can let us talk about it in a meaningful and interesting way. And for marketers who want to reach out with meaty informartion and ideas, blogs are still a good venue.
So I say... blogs are very much alive.
Update Feb. 23: Cathy Taylor, writing in MediaPost, agrees.