Please Stop Saying Blogs *And* Social Media

At conferences, in boardrooms, from consultants and across the web I continue to hear the statement: blogs and social media (as if they’re different things). In cases it is from people new to the internet it’s excusable. But it’s just not accurate and in fact the proliferation of it isn’t just irksome, it could be dangerous.

It’s as silly as saying forums and social media. Or Twitter and social media. Or Reddit and social media. Get the point? Actually, forget social media for a second. To provide an analogy everyone can understand: it’s like saying lizards and reptiles, as if one is not a subset of the other. It might make sense to say lizards and other types of reptiles, like blogs and other types of social media, but it’s almost never used in this manner.

I am not the only one to observe this strange phenomenon. But it still proliferates, so we’re starting another thread on the subject.

Some specific examples of the confusion:

Blogs calling blogging dead, being replaced by social media …wtf?

Seems like about once a month a blogger of some sort (professional, personal or otherwise) calls blogging dead and social media to reign supreme. Obviously it’s for links and pageviews, and sadly it still works. It’s just an absurd post concept though because blogs are social media. Maybe we should all stop linking to them so they’re forced to write up real stories and trends. To call blogging dead is basically to call publishing dead and that no one on the web wants to read anything. Right.

Companies who think they aren’t yet participating in social, but already blog

Note to companies: you are already participating. The web doesn’t happen in silos, in fact I’ll go a step further: even if you just have static web pages and no blog you are already participating in a social form of media. The web was social from day one, and the fact that I can just copy paste any content on a new page and react means any company with a domain name is social to some extent. If they didn’t want to be they would pull the page down.

Studies / reports that look at just Facebook and Twitter and think that is inclusive

I was at a conference in Minneapolis and watched someone present a report purely on data from Facebook and Twitter. They framed it as being inclusive of the social web, but it was just Facebook and Twitter. A few times in the presentation he definitely tried to marginalize blogs. At the conclusion I asked why he neglected blogs, forums, social news, and the spectrum of other social platforms? He had no legitimate answer and was forced to cede the point that this was just a sampling. But his presentation was aimed squarely at positioning just Facebook and Twitter as the only social channels. I have seen this viewpoint presented before — usually by some type of service that focused just on Facebook and Twitter (other people’s platforms). The point here is that it’s an attempt to sell a product or service and not a realistic view of the web (and the world). Basically, an attempt to prey on ignorance.

How is this dangerous?

Well first of all, this ongoing persuasion to yield your presence to the stream is an anti-outcome oriented approach and is basically encouraging companies to dismiss having a search and social media strategy. Yet search is still a core function of the web. It is narrow-minded to think that everyone uses the web in the same way, or that specific channels are worth spending huge amounts of time on just because they’re hot with early adopters. It is the opposite of holistic.

I keep several sites and communities personally and have managed/consulted/developed strategies for hundreds of others. And high quality content or networks created external of stream-based platforms still pull traffic, links, organic mentions and conversions from assets created years later. You are simply not building the same kinds of equity in stream or social news platforms: it is much more ephemeral. I’m not saying it isn’t valuable, but it is a different type of leverage and needs to be a part of larger approach for it to mean something. It’s the same reason why some people have tens of thousands of Twitter followers but almost no traffic to their websites. Seen these people? Good luck to them creating conversions.

Perhaps confusion of blogs and social media is the wrong word. Feels more like an attempt at manipulation.

To sum up: please stop saying blogs and social media. Blogs are social media.

And if you hear someone say it (I am sure you will) politely correct them if it is confusion, press them on it if you sense manipulation.

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