Gini Dietrich

Blogging Most Certainly Is Not Dead

By: Gini Dietrich | June 14, 2016 | 

Blogging Most Certainly Is Not DeadLast week, Chris Brogan wrote a blog post titled, “Blogging Isn’t Dead” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head (which always means it’s great blog fodder).

I mentioned that I spent last week in Cincinnati speaking to Vistage groups.

As part of that presentation, I always give business leaders a refresher on where the web is today, in terms of how many people participate on social media and how that might affect their efforts.

There are 161 million blogs on the internet today. Of course, I say that with the caveat that they’re not all functioning blogs.

If I were to take one Vistage group and do a quick analysis, I can tell you, of 15 member companies, two or three might have a blog and (typically) only one has updated it in the last month.

This is because blogging is, hands down, one of the most time intense marketing tactics. It’s also one of the best ways to generate qualified leads, but, because it’s so hard to keep up on, people abandon it before they see tangible results.

But it most certainly is not dead.

Comments Have Shifted

Two years ago, Copyblogger made a big stink about turning off their comments, in favor of having conversations on other sites.

They claimed the spam comments were too much to keep up with and the real conversations were happening on Facebook and Google+ and Twitter so that’s where they would spend their time.

But it didn’t work as well as they imagined. The experiment lasted a little more than a year and now the comments section is back.

Many other gigantic bloggers followed suit and, from March 2014 through January 2015, you saw a mass exodus away from allowing comments on site.

I even wrote a blog post about why we will never turn off comments.

That said, commenting definitely has slowed. There is a big shift away from commenting on blogs to conversations in private groups.

The private Facebook groups I belong to are crazy engaged.

And, I’ve noticed an interesting trend where people will come here to read, but go back to the social network to comment and have a conversation.

It kind of drives me crazy sometimes. I’ll add a blog post to my personal Facebook page and people go nuts there. The only thing I can attribute it to is my friends, in particular, REALLY like to give me a hard time and I suppose most don’t think that’s appropriate in a blog’s comment section.

(And, in most cases, I’d agree.)

But that does not mean blogging is dead. It means commenting has shifted.

Blogging Is Not Dead

Today we have Facebook Instant Articles, LinkedIn Pulse, and Medium.

The social networks are dying for you to shut off your comments and then shut down your blog entirely.

If your community moves to Facebook, for instance, and you keep people engaged there, that is more time spent on that social network, which makes them money.

Even better, if you create content there, they then own it and you no longer have rights to it. But more, they love you even more because now no one ever leaves Facebook.

They have everything they need in one spot.

Same goes for LinkedIn and Twitter and Google+ (even though it’s slowly dying) and Instagram and Snapchat and every other social network.

But, to create content for those sites and not house it on your own website or blog, means you’ve given away your intellectual property, your thoughts, and your credibility to someone else.

Rent Your Content to the Social Networks

You’ve given it away. You won’t be able to nurture relationships and eventually sell to those people. Because the social network now owns them, not you.

The only real way to make money from blogging and show a true return-on-investment is to house the content on your site and rent it to the social networks.

This means you own the content, you own the audience, and you own the relationship.

And, if you’re good at the relationship building, you’ll see a return-on-investment that is significantly more than any other marketing tactic you’ll execute (except maybe Facebook advertising, but that requires you to have really good content).

So here we are…back at blogging not being dead.

It most definitely has shifted. It most definitely is harder to gain attention in an information overload space. It most definitely has to be nurtured to grow. It most definitely needs some consistency. It most definitely needs lots of love and lots of patience.

But blogging most definitely is not dead.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • So much food for thought in this post – a whole smorgasbord and I don’t know what to pick first! Chris’s piece echoed something you have said previously — our blogs are the only place we truly own the real estate where we plant our thoughts, and that’s important. I guess the most pressing thing this piece leads me to reflect on is one that’s a little separated from “business,” but … my most recent personal blog started out feeling a little like a “fluff” piece — I had scheduled a spontaneous out of town trip and looked through old drafts for something “easy.” I picked a “73 questions” prompt that asked 73 questions about myself. It felt so narcissistic that I almost didn’t promo it at all Sunday, but as I was preparing to go on Facebook live to talk about it (because someone encouraged me to start doing that ::cough cough::), it occurred to me that a) learning about ourselves is critical — and there’s a business application for that idea too — how many times in writing about our field/business have we had to delve deeper and by doing so become better capable of explaining who we are? and b) we need to take the time to learn about others — how many people in our personal lives have we taken the time to learn 73 things about? For the business parallel — how much time have we taken to REALLY learn about our customers/readers/peers? Taking the time to get to know someone pays off, maybe not in an immediate ROI, but developing relationships matters.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Wow, Paula! This is intense…and so good! I honestly don’t know that I could name 73 things about some of our very best clients, even those who have been with us for years. I really, really want to think about it.

      • It’s not easy at all (at least that’s what I found)!

        • Laura Petrolino

          I love this Paula (and can’t wait to go learn 73 things about you). Totally random (and stupid) question, but if I don’t ask my brain will be trying to figure it out all day….why 73? Any reason you choose that number?

    • I didn’t read Chris’s post. I just find him kind of narcissistic and too into zen for me to take seriously for marketing. But giving the social nets the rights to your IP is pure crazy. As Gini says rent them.

      Too bad for Facebook. If they weren’t one of the sleaziest companies on earth I would love to use Live and Messenger and all their comm tools but I can’t do it. Life is getting so hard now. I boycott everything made in NC even closing my BofA account over the LGBT hate. I barely Facebook over ethics. I can’t buy Apple because they support the Chinese Government oppressing Tibet and killing/jailing anyone who speaks freely. I can’t even go to Florida because you are oppressing alligators. I am going to cry.

      • SO uncanny that we’re having this convo b/c a friend of mine said to me, just HOURS ago, that she may come (from FL, land of oppressed alligators (????) to see a minor league baseball game in VT. I told her I knew of a great restaurant-in-a-former-firehouse that she should visit. If there’s nothing objectionable in Vermont, maybe I should accompany her! 🙂

      • Gini Dietrich

        Before you know it, you’ll be burying your money in the backyard and living off the grid.

  • This is a great post! It’s definitely true – blogging is NOT dead, it’s just always changing. I’ve only been blogging for about a year and have noticed shifts (albeit subtle) in how the industry communicates with audiences, how to get my contact out there and how to keep people coming back!

    • Gini Dietrich

      I’d love to hear more about the shifts you’ve seen in the last year and what you find works (and doesn’t work), Madi!

  • Wow, what a great post, Gini! I agree 100%- While there are some fantastic ways to build real engagement on social networks, it’s such a bad idea to completely ignore your own site. We saw what happened with Facebook’s organic reach and how that affected organic page reach (which does have pros and cons, but in terms of building your audience on Facebook, it’s likely that ads will continue to get more expensive and eventually, smaller brands will have a harder time growing that way). And it’s probable that this same thing will happen with Instagram, Pinterest etc. Someone else will always determine who sees your content, how they see it and how they interact with it.

    • Gini Dietrich

      It’s DEFINITELY going to happen to Instagram, simply because Facebook owns it. And you’re right…while Facebook advertising is accessible right now, it won’t remain that way. The only way smaller businesses will be able to compete is to have a living and breathing website that is searchable and findable.

      • Corina Manea

        Instagram algorithm had already changed to match Facebook’s. Now you see in your feed the images that have the most recent comments, instead of the latest images posted.

        • Exactly! They’re great tools to use for your business but not the ONLY tools.

  • Oh, hello 2012…. 😉

    It’s easy to blame social media for blogging’s woes. Much like blaming others for our own failings in life, scapegoats are more attractive than self-analysis.

    But it’s not as clear-cut as “all the conversations are happening on social media”. They may well be happening a lot – but guess where that traffic will come when they want to see the source of that discussion?

    Once that traffic arrives, if they find a comments area that looks as fun and inviting as a McDonald’s restaurant does to a food snob, of course they’ll leave immediately.

    If, on the other hand, they see a blog that opens up to others, and – *imagine this!* – actively converses with them, they’ll stay. Comment. Reply.

    I used to follow a lot of the blogs that closed their comments section(s) down, and something that became clear as they were getting close to that decision was the blogger was seen less and less in the comments.

    Whereas before they’d been very active in helping build community and hold active conversations with commenters, now they were only replying to comments that praised them or their post.

    *That’s if they even showed up at all.*

    Instead of a thriving, interactive comment section (and, by association, blog), there was simply comment after comment without a reply, either from the blogger or other commenters.

    In that kind of environment, of course blog comments are going to suffer – after all, how long would you stay talking to someone on the phone, or in-person, if there was no reply coming back?

    *Not long.*

    Social media won’t “kill” blog comments – bloggers will.

    • Gini Dietrich

      You know, I don’t think Copyblogger has said this, but I do think they saw a significant drop in traffic and subscribers when they shut down comments. Sure, people may have conversations in other spots, but they want to know you’re paying attention. And there is no better way to show that than to have live and active comments…even if the person prefers to comment elsewhere.

      Totally goes to your point that no one will talk on the phone if there is no reply.

      • Here’s the thing with that – one of the things the Copyblogger team said at the time was that the conversations were happening on social, so they’d move them there. So I checked out their social feeds for a few months after that decision was made, and…. crickets.

        The comments from followers was low, and the responses from the CB team equally lacking. That, and the fact it was a simple copy/paste of the post link as opposed to tailoring for each network. So, yeah… crickets.

        As time becomes less scalable for many people, forcing them to multiple channels doesn’t make sense. Keeping them active on a place you can regulate, and ensure the experience is a seamless one, makes much more sense.

        • Gini Dietrich

          In a podcast interview about a month ago, Brian Clark said the real reason they did it is because “influencers” would come and comment on their blog, not because they were potential customers, but to get the link (which makes me still wonder…because it’s not like you get a lot of SEO value from commenting on blogs).

          • Well, given the CB brand uses “influencers” to promote their courses and products, I don’t think you can really complain when they appear in the comments to promote themselves…

            Besides, that comes down to a decent comment policy and moderation.
            Something bloggers that really care about their community already do.

          • Gini Dietrich

            Totally agree. The whole “we got too much spam” excuse drives me crazy. That just means you’re not using the right tools.

  • “The social networks are dying for you to shut off your comments and then shut down your blog entirely.” I’ve suspected this too, and lots of people are obliging — especially on LinkedIn, which a lot of people seem to be treating as a blog lately. And people do seem to feel more free to comment in places other than the blog itself. Maybe because posting here is more visible, and people hesitate to be so prominent?

    • Gini Dietrich

      I think you’re probably right. We find the private groups have the most engagement…for that very reason. I also think people do it while at work and they don’t necessarily want the boss to know that’s how they’re spending some of their time.

  • Love this, especially the concept of “renting your content” to the socials. Flip the switch and own your own stuff. Nice.

    • Gini Dietrich

      I’ve never understood why people think it’s okay to not keep their content on their own site.

  • It’s funny… I was just thinking last week that I bet there are tons of posts out there about why blogging is dead (it takes a lot of effort, people don’t comment, there is too much content out there and it is hard to not be repetitive, etc., etc.), but that someone really ought to talk about why that isn’t the case. Lo and behold, here were are!

    I think that people just need to understand what residual value they can get from blogging, even if it isn’t necessarily comments or a high degree of initial readership (especially if they don’t promote posts effectively). There’s SEO value in blogging… there is intangible thought leadership value in blogging… heck, there is value simply in blogging consistently enough that a valuable someone says “Boy, kudos to her. It takes real commitment to create thoughtful posts that regularly!” Do we want engaged readers? Sure, but I think a case can be made for blogging based on residual effects, too. Thanks for covering this!

    • Gini Dietrich

      I am a mind reader, Lukas!

  • I do not often comment on blogs I read, but that doesn’t mean that I am not reading those blogs. If I feel I have something worthwhile to contribute then I do post a comment. Mostly, I just don’t have the time to post a well thought out comment. I read many blogs that cover all things I am interested in and enjoy most of them for the education or helpful insights they provide. And depending on the subject, sometimes I read the comments as a form of entertainment. ; )

    • Gini Dietrich

      There is a great graphic that shows the different types of people—all the way from lurkers to content creators. It’s pretty fascinating and the majority do exactly what you do—read and absorb, but rarely comment.

      What I mean when I talk about commenting is we used to, on average, get a few hundred comments on every blog post. When the economy began to rebound, we saw that start to slow…mostly, I think, because people had things to do again.

      That trend has continued, for sure, across the board.

    • Dawn, this comment could have been mine. I read a lot of blogs, but I rarely comment because I rarely have the time to write a thoughtful comment.

      Much of what I read does come from Facebook though. I get sucked into all kinds of blogs and news articles thanks to my FB wall.

  • Most certainly true Gini, rumours of blogging’s demise are seriously exaggerated. I’m also with you in not publishing elsewhere (Linked In, Facebook), they own the intellectual property, not you.

    • Gini Dietrich

      And why would you give your IP to someone else? I don’t understand that.

  • This is a very awesome post Gini,
    I totally agree with your points. Turning off comments on your blog just so you can engage with your audience on social media is a No No to me.

    I don’t know why anyone should even nurture such thought. Like you said, its always better to house your contents on your blog and then, rent it out to social media that, you’ll know you’re the rightful owner.

    However, I think that blogging in the true sence of blogging is dead, I even wrote about it recently on my blog.

    What’s trending now which is also the best is content marketing. Blogging alone can not make anyone money. You can check out this post I wrote about that and let me know what you think.

    Feel free to remove the link, I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful piece Gini.


    • Gini Dietrich

      I will definitely check out your blog post! I do agree that blogging, alone, won’t generate cash. It has to be used in combination with a fully integrated program.

  • I’m feeling ya Gini

    What I think is changing is Blogging was a big part of the social media fad/hype machine specifically for SEO Lead Gen. It was being pitched for that. And I myself of guilty of blogging for that purpose because of the hype.

    So two things happened….

    First I attended 3 webinars here. First was Sean McGuinness. Then two by Andy Crestodina. And I started using my finance degree and basic math to look at my hours spent blogging for SEO over the years. And I started researching the competition. And Andy was brilliant showing me I had no chance in hell at succeeding that powerful and smart people all were competing with me for that first and second page slot in the Google. And how if I had just taken the money for my own time for 2 years and spent them on adwords I could crush everyone for SEO so much faster.

    So I stopped blogging. And I am seeing a lot of the SEO chasers stopping because the drum beat by the content marketing hypers has lowered as they have jumped on new fads like Snapchat and live streaming to keep bilking customers. ‘Oh blogging wasn’t working..hey you need to be here now’

    The second thing is the comments.

    Most of the people who turned comment off did so because they were being outed in their own comment sections by readers for their poor stats and failed ideas. I give credit to the Bryan Kramers for not turning them off…well he gets so few comments he doesn’t need to. Just like Shelly Kramer and Daniel Newman whom almost never get comments.

    And as you mentioned I discuss way more marketing in the dark web than public web. Just like for Brands 1000% more discussion occurs there among customers than social media (another thing they are catching on to).

    I think blogging has its place for lead conversion vs lead creation. As well as a great place to update visitors on what is happening and story telling.

    Hmmm….let me think is there anything else…..

    • Gini Dietrich

      You also discuss it more in email… 🙂

  • Ben

    yep nice one , liked it , got some new ideas , have to follow your blog regularly .

    • Gini Dietrich

      Thanks, Ben!

  • Gini–

    I totally agree blogging is far from dead!

    IMO–a blog is a combination owned social media-content marketing platform that NO business can be without. Even better you don’t have to worry about making it mobile friendly if you use the right plug-ins.

    It’s where you can start to build your community and engage your audience by providing them with the information they actively want and seek.

    At a minimum, use your blog to answer all of your customer questions (and link to the relevant product).

    Also, use your blog to capture email addresses to build your house file.

    Understand that most social media platforms have reached a mature phase where they need to show more than audience numbers. For marketers and PR professionals, this translates to marketing expense in the form of advertising and improved content.

    BTW, maybe it’s time to revisit my post on why blogging isn’t dead.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen
    Actionable Marketing Guide

    • Gini Dietrich

      Amen, amen, amen!

  • Corina Manea

    Blogging is dead! Facebook is dead. Twitter is dead.

    People like to make predictions and declare dead everything that is not working the way it used to.

    What some fail to understand is we (humans) and everything around us evolve. Blogging is not the same as in 2006 or even 2014, nor is Facebook or any other social network.

    Just like websites evolved and now anyone can set up a website without having to pay thousands of dollars to an IT company, the same is valid for blogging.

    My question is: Why would you build a community on “rented land” without having your own platform?

    How can you become a thought leader in your niche if there is no “home” to send the people you target for more info?

    As for Copyblogger and the like, they experimented on their own how community can “punish” you when you fail to listen.

    I am not going to be as nice as you. My opinion is they opened the comment section again when they saw people are not interested anymore, and surprise, they don’t have who to sell to their products or services.

    Copyblogger is a very good case study that no matter how big you are, if you fail to nurture it, your community penalizes you.

    • Gini Dietrich

      I don’t blame Copyblogger for testing and trying new things. I’m a big fan of testing what works and what doesn’t work. And we certainly can try things not everyone agrees with.

  • Laura Petrolino

    I think the ease with which people can interact on social networks and the huge amount of content created there helps make blogging better—because it puts a greater responsibility on us to create content meaningful and targeted enough for them to click over.

    It forces us to be clear and smart in our content creation and distribution, and not be sloppy with our strategy. It makes us measure and analyze how people interact, and with what content. In many ways the TDLR culture and ease of social network interaction has only improved blogging vs. killed it.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Is TDLR like uncracking an egg?

  • Gonna go a little zen (sorry Howie) and drop some Tarot wisdom: death means change. OUAT people bemoaned the ‘death’ of everything but what they really mean was how something changed. “Twitter used to be blah but now everything is so blah programmed PC orchestrated blah, I’m gonna unfollow (yet automate everything) blah.” Ahem.

    The only thing that changed was US and how we are social. I remain a ‘purist’ in that 1) I prefer the conversation on the blog not the network, and 2) that I’m genuinely social and don’t seek to monetize and marketize and douchify it at every turn. YES I am out here networking and engaging for my career, it’s just not the only thing I do and I give back way more than I get.

    I’m not in many private business-oriented FB groups, many are closed via a buy-in to some association or another. I know I’d probably get a lot of it and yet I’d rather keep one network just personal. FWIW.

    • I love it when you go zen and I love it when you write comments. Because your comments are always the start of really good blog posts…and they’re incredibly intelligent. And yes, to all of this!