Blog Posts Aren’t Dead. But, They’re Dying.
The effectiveness of pure 100% written content is waning, and more and more people are moving to video and podcasts. So, we have to ask… is the blog post dying?
One thing which is always constant in this world is change. And as you might imagine, that change doesn’t really occur anywhere else as fast as it does here on the Internet.
Case in point, let’s take blogging itself.
For most of us, the word “blogging” means that you’re writing. And most blogs consist of almost exclusively written content. And we’re told that if you write really good content, people will come.
Of course, as time goes on, we also know that isn’t really true anymore.
And in fact, as much as it PAINS me to say this, I think the days of the traditional blog post having much impact in the marketplace anymore is coming to an end.
Are The Days Of Written Posts Coming To An End?
Now before you go jump off a ledge or something, let’s keep things in perspective…
Written blog posts are still very important. And they’re not going anywhere. But… the effectiveness of 100% written content is waning.
First of all, there’s the matter of attention. With all the content being aimed at people these days, it is harder and harder to get people to pay attention to written blog posts.
Many people can barely muster up the attention spans necessary to actually READ a blog post anymore. It is sad, but true. Some call it “ADD”, but personally, I don’t think that is a disease at all. I think it is just a side effect of the high-speed information based society we live in today. It takes real discipline to maintain your attention anymore and most people don’t have it.
This lack of attention span even changes the way we have to write these days. We need lots of sub-headlines, bullet points, big shiny images, short paragraphs – all these things in order to hopefully entice a person to actually consume the content we create.
I’ll tell you one thing… if you’re concentrating on 100% written content these days and you’re NOT catering to the secondary reader path (which is scanning content, not reading it), then you are SCREWED. S-C-R-E-W-E-D.
Big long, text-only blog posts will kill you. Big long paragraphs will kill you. Why? Because most of your visitors will take one look at it, decide they’re too lazy to read the damn thing, and leave your site to go somewhere else.
But, where ARE people hanging out these days?
Video sites. And social media sites.
Is Social Media Killing Blog Content?
Admittedly, that’s a provocative question to pose, and the answer is “no”. But, let’s look at it again from the perspective of attention spans.
Facebook is well known to have insanely high user engagement. People go there over and over again every day. But, what is the content we see there? We see small little snippets of content. Things like images, quotes, and quick status updates. And the only level of commitment needed by the end user is to scroll right past it or hit the “like” button. Very little commitment is needed. No work is required.
If we look at Twitter, it is just a firehose of little 140-character snippets. If a tweet rushes by and you don’t see it, it really doesn’t matter.
Any social media site you visit, the result is the same. A huge volume of material, usually short in nature, rushing by you like an avalanche.
I believe it conditions people.
[Tweet “Social media is like crack. “]
It is like crack. We need higher and higher doses of these quick hits to satisfy our hunger. And the more you do it, the harder it is for REAL content – anything longer than a few sentences – to have a chance to make an impact.
What About Video?
Many people who are adept at content marketing are moving more and more toward video. And you may have noticed that I have increased my activity on my video blog substantially, including the production quality of those videos.
Why am I doing that? Well, there are a few answers:
- People like to watch video more than they like to read. I mean, let’s face it… TV has conditioned us to a large degree.
- Video contains a higher wavelength of communication that reaches people on a level that the written word simply cannot.
- Video allows you to be found in the places where people frequent, such as social media and Youtube.
Video content is extremely important for any content creator who wants to remain relevant moving forward.
Even with video content, though, we have to deal with the matter of attention spans. You’re not going to stick a 15-minute video on Youtube and have people watch it from beginning to end. I mean, unless you are literally the most entertaining person on the planet, it isn’t likely going to happen.
Plus, more and more people are consuming video content on mobile devices. This “on the go” lifestyle is more suitable to short videos, not long ones.
So, if you’re doing video (and you should be), you need to deal with attention spans by doing things like:
- Keeping your videos fairly short. I’m thinking 3-5 minutes. Some of mine get a little longer, but that’s something I’m working on because I think that 3-5 minute range is about right.
- You have to treat the layout of the video like you would a blog post. You need the strong headline, the attention-getter and the promise of a payoff, solid content, visual aids, and a strong call to action.
- You have to use jump cuts to keep people visually engaged. One big long clip of you talking to the camera is boring as snot. On reality TV (the most popular form of TV these days), the average scene is about 2 seconds long. In other words, they cut from scene to scene every few seconds.
But, it doesn’t stop with videos.
Now Is The Time To Take Podcasting Seriously (If You Weren’t Already)
iTunes recently logged their 1 BILLIONTH podcast subscription. There is no doubt that the potential podcast audience is growing by the week. And more and more, we’re all carrying around the exact device to listen to it with: our phone.
But, consider this…
What other form of digital media is there where you are literally embedded into the ear drum of your audience for upwards of half an hour – AND with very few distractions?
Written content has a ton of attention competition. Videos do, too. Social media most certainly does. But, podcasting? Most of us listen to podcasts during our downtime. Things like exercising or walking or driving. These are activities in our lives where we do NOT have a computer around tempting us with every possible distraction of our modern society.
For this reason, podcasting is a very important component to any effective content marketing strategy.
Oh, and there’s a lot less competition to deal with, too.
The Traffic Getting Formula
I get asked all the time what advice I have for bloggers who are trying to grow their traffic. And while there are a lot of little tactics out there, the basic jist of it comes down to a simple formula.
The traffic getting formula is this:
- Find out where your audience is at.
- Find out what they need and want.
- Go where they are and give them what they want.
- Tell them to meet you on your home turf for more.
- Have them opt-in to your email list so you can tell them when new stuff comes out.
- Rinse and repeat.
Now think about this…
Step #1 of this formula means you have to go where your audience is. They’re obviously not on your site yet, so you go to them. And where are they?
Well, chances are they are on social media sites, video sites, iTunes, and other people’s sites.
So, if you sit behind the walls of your own blog and post 100% written content, leak out a few “by the way”‘s on social media to tell people to come over…. don’t sit there and wonder why your traffic stats suck. It is because you’re HIDING. Your audience doesn’t even know you exist.
Videos will get you out on the big video sites like Youtube. Podcasting gets you into iTunes. Guest posts get you onto other people’s sites.
What I’m Personally Doing About It
I don’t preach to you in this post out of some knowledge that I’m Mr. Perfect. Ohhhh, no. While I have known this for awhile, I haven’t exactly been awesome at execution. I’ve been pretty half-assed about my podcasting and my videos.
Well, that’s changing.
The Academy VIDEOblog is where you will find my videos – and the plan is to come up with at least one new one each week.
Also, I am kicking off my podcast again. My podcast started to fizzle in the last half of 2013 and that was a mistake. But, thanks to a number of people at New Media Expo, and a hallway conversation with a Blog Marketing Academy reader (hey Jillian!, thanks for the kick in the ass! 🙂 ), I’ve decided that I absolutely HAVE to bring my podcast back on the air.
So, the plan as of now is to have one written post each week, one video blog, and a new podcast episode. That’s 3 content releases each week, each one hitting a different medium. And on top of that, I’m planning to do webinars at least once per month. And I’m even dabbling with the idea of some live Google Hangouts.
By the way, I’d love to have you connected if you’re not already:
- Subscribe to my Youtube channel
- Subscribe to my podcast on iTunes
- Subscribe to this blog (if you’re not already)
- Connect with me on Twitter and/or Facebook (whichever floats your boat)
So, that’s my plan.
But, I’m not that important. You are. So…
Make 2014 The Year You Go Multimedia
If you are not already doing videos or podcasting, then you should make the commitment right here and now to get started.
In the comments below, tell me which one you will do (video, podcast, or both) and give me a rough date by which you will do it.
Obviously, I and the Blog Marketing Academy am here to help you with any questions that come up. But, it all begins with a decision to do it.
Are you with me?
Image Credit: @GiseleNMendez
Great points David and I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying…and I have to admit I’m a little sad about it.
I’m scanner, which I do to identify what I want to read. I don’t have the attention span for video, unless I take the video and basically treat it like a podcast – something to take on the bus with me.
What is interesting though is that Google is still mostly indexing text based content, so despite the shift of attention to these other mediums, you have to think there is still the opportunity to hit long tail search results with mostly text based content. Or like you suggest, text based content with a companion video or podcast to go with it.
WOW! I LOVE this post.. I have actually done and currently STILL doing Videos (you’re so spot on with your point here!). I also have plans to start back up my webinars ago. I faded away from that earlier on in 2013. However I’ve never done podcast before. I honestly do not know where and how to start with that. Guess I will go and “YouTube” my answers on “how to do podcast” ? LOL. Or perhaps you have a article here already posted on how to implements that?
I also really enjoyed what you touched on about finding our audience. I have that part down pack! I do at times get distracted I’ll admit. Because what I am trying to focus on is what lots of people need (in my specific target niche area). I have so many creative ideas running thru my brain and I know I cannot handle it all. Then I have a gift that I am so darn good with that I get an overwhelming responses with like “Janelle, how do you do this? How do you do that? I want to learn this to Janelle.” So I decided to use my gift (which is not my passion). My gift is just something I am super skilled with and extrememly talented that it draws in the energy, traffic, and I get lost of attention because of it. UGH!!
I just need to pick one, focus, get it working for me instead of me working for it. Then once that’s secured, I can run with plan-2 off of my creative brand ideas that keeps popping up in my head and distraction.
AWESOME work well done here my friend!
Definitely, focus. Focus is probably the most important asset we, as entrepreneurs, have.
On those ideas, jot them down as they come, but then purposely move back to what you’re doing so as to maintain focus.
Am I the only one who finds it ironic that this is a written blog post (and I long one) and not a short video or podcast?
Seriously, I enjoy experimenting with other media and I do feel video and podcasts are important to incorporate. I was excited to try video on my blog (so far I have only done it once on the blog and once for subscribers only).
But as with any other tool, videos and podcasts should be used when the topic warrants that medium. Some topics lend themselves to written posts and others to short videos and podcasts.
If you read the post, you’ll see that I made clear there will always be a place for written posts.
I don’t think it’s so much that people don’t want to read, I think they’re getting tired of hearing the same thing being said using different words. I think most markets are flooded with too many copycats. It’s like the offline world where you have too many of a certain type of store in an area. Each new store that opens takes a piece of the market share until the market is diluted and stores begin closing. That is how the Internet has become. There are too many of the same thing.
Hmmm…. I agree with you, however I don’t think that’s why blog posts have dwindled in effectiveness. Content volume has something to do with it, but not copycats. There will always be copycats in every space, however it is still definitely possible to stand out in pretty much any market. But, to do that, you have to work with people’s attention spans and cut through the clutter.
A 1700 word blog post about the dangers of long posts. 🙂 I’ve booked marked this post to better analyze the way it was desinged. I like the way it was broken up with content and visual styles. It was very easy to “skim” without losing the message. At the same time, contained information worth scrolling back and reading slower.
That’s what I refer to as the secondary reader path. Very important. 🙂
Video is a big stretch for me. I have not watched TV in over 30 years, and if I want to view something on youtube I have to fire up a separate system that is barely capable of displaying it, sometimes. (The connection in my rural area is not exactly as fast as I might wish.) I believe that my smartphone can do video, but my experiments with it have been disappointing.
Hence, I read. I read a lot. And I’ve not seen any of your videos, ever. Because I’m often working outdoors, with big animals, I’m not at all set up for Twitter or with anything relating to txt msgs. Interruptions are physically dangerous to me. It’s hard enough to handle phone calls from customers! I have found Facebook worse than useless. (Do you know how hard it is to get off Facebook?)
So my marketing consists of making it DIFFICULT for casual tire-kickers to reach me. If they really want to ask about becoming a customer, they must send e-mail or make an actual phone call.
Someone’s going to have to convince me that video is useful, and not by showing me a video.
I hear ya… but don’t make the mistake of using your unique situation to make a judgement call on the usefulness of video. I can show you a million stats that will clearly show you how effective video is. Just because you don’t watch it much doesn’t mean others don’t.
But, you’re also showing why a content creator these days has to hit all the major mediums, because different people click with different mediums.
Great post. I do some videos on properties I buy for my blog, but that is aBout it. I need to start podcasting as well.
Great post David. So apt! if you look around, a lot of people are adopting video based, audio based content strategies for their content marketing and it’s just going to increase in the coming days/months. I think it is a fantastic analysis / prediction and a reminder to all those who’re still stuck to only text based content.
ya i personally feel social media has played a key role in tha killing of blog content , people hardly try to search further as they are satisfied by whatever they know from various social media
This is a really great blog post David, I always learn something from you David. I just have a question about the 3 content creation you’re gonna do each week. Will it be the same content in the 3 different forms or 3 different content for each one?
Different, but they may cross-promote each other. 🙂
Another cracking post. And I love the ‘my blog is not dead it just smells funny’ title.
I’ve got over my fear of making videos and I can even do basic editing. But now my challenge is making them interesting because like you said, a single cut of someone talking to camera for several minutes is pretty boring. I can cut to something else but…what? Can you give us some simple tips or techniques or even point us to some good resources?
Watch my more recent videos. It is recorded as one big take, but in editing I can use zooms and quick cuts to give the appearance of movement. That’s one way to go about it.
Great stuff Dave.
I’m kicking off 2014 with a new blog. Part of my plan was to start doing a lot of video right from the very beginning. Working on getting some equipment together. I even recently did my first ever screen recording on how to install Wordpress —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHrmdgRCzys I’m going to be using it for a how-to guide on how to setup your blog/site. I want to practice doing screen recordings for now. When I’m confident enough I will move on to direct camera videos and then hopefully podcasting.
Cool, dude. Keep it up. 🙂
I couldn’t be any more in sync with what you have said here David.
I don’t have any problems with creating video content (I struggled for over a year with this though) but I’m afraid of doing podcasts, funny how that goes, shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Anyway, looking forward to what’s coming next and blog posts dying? Not in every sense but I do believe they aren’t what they used to be anymore just like you said so yourself.
Great post (oh the irony) man, completely on point (on a serious note) and no pun intended of course.
Thanks, Sergio. 🙂