It used to be that blogging was sexy. It was what the cool kids did.
On many levels it still is but the content landscape has changed decidedly as social media continues to cement itself into our online world.
The nice thing about blogging is that it is not only surviving this period of change but it is even thriving. The chart below comes from Nielsen’s NM Incite service and shows the growth of blogging during the age of social media.
The need for a place for more developed thoughts and examinations of subjects has actually never been greater. As people realize exactly where social media falls in the process of content ingestion there needs to be a place where the 140 character idea is worked out in more detail. People who are smart seek more information and will not settle for undeveloped thoughts that are abbreviated to fit social media’s format.
I liken it to when MTV came onto the scene. The quick cut, multiple image per second onslaught of images was visually pleasing at first but it was “figured out” by people and then given its place in the media landscape. It was not the death of anything long form. In fact, it increased many’s appetites for something with more depth and breadth.
The same is happening in the world of content today. Social media’s main purpose is to inform, update and entertain in quicker more bite-size morsels. That doesn’t mean that people are satisfied. In many cases it can be seen as content junk food. It’s fun, it tastes good, it serves a need but the long term well-being of ideas and information requires more work. If we decide to only live on a social media-ized version of information, we will all become the mental version of today’s obese America. We will be feeding on empty calories and then waking up one day seeking to be something more than just bloated and seeking a quick content fix.
A small piece of evidence of this need for more developed thinking can be seen in the fact that Chris Hughes, a Facebook founder, is purchasing “The New Republic” magazine. He feels there is a real need for traditional long form journalism even in the 140 character world we all live in currently. It is one he helped birth, in fact, but is clearly saying that there is more to it and needs to be more to it.
All the talk of the end of “more involved” content due to social media’s pervasiveness is grossly overstated. Sure, there will be some who never get beyond the bite-sized morsels of social media content. Those types will likely end up as social media’s version of Beavis and Butthead. They will be made more stupid by deciding to only take the easy way out with regard to being informed. Those who want more and are looking for bloggers and journalists to unpack ideas in a more thoughtful and complex way will end up being the new highly educated. They will be the ones who own things and build things. It’s our choice to make.
In the end, the lesson here is that a deeper and more thoughtful examination of information will always have its place. In fact, it will be something in such high demand that we may even see a very quick renaissance of the traditional approach to media. I for one would love to see it. What about you?