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Two Blogging Camps: Which is Better?

By: Guest | June 11, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Craig McBreen.

Several weeks ago Gini Dietrich wrote about “smart” posts vs. those other posts.

I think she kinda said: Stupid spreads like a virus.

It’s not exactly like comparing Mad Men to Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Charlie Rose to Snooki, but those top 10 lists sure go viral, don’t they?

After reading this, I started thinking about a different kind of comparison.

Between two smart, but disparate approaches in the art of attracting eyeballs.

And both formulas can lead to clients, book deals, and becoming “Internet famous.”

So, for the sake of argument, let’s focus on these two camps …

Camp A teaches businesses how to leverage technology to court and maintain loyal customers. They blog about social media, online marketing, and best practices. When it comes to social and content marketing, they are the A-Team.

Camp B understands that people spread emotion and crafting compelling copy often means seizing a scary concept. They have a more fanatical fan base and you might consider them the rock stars of our digital realm.

Group A includes bloggers such as Jay Baer and Jason Falls.

On our Team B roster, we have authors such as Julien Smith and Erika Napoletano.

One group is fairly buttoned down.

The second, a bit more esoteric.

Camp A is focused on metrics-driven social media strategies for online success. You might call this a more scientific approach, but it’s still about creating great content by learning how to become extremely useful to your target audience.

The wordsmiths of Camp B have mastered the art of creating sticky content. They are fearless with their opinions, because they realize polarizing posts attract fans and often spread like a virus.

I think they would like the word “sticky” and might even do something dirty with it. All good, as I have a fondness for profanity in small, effective doses.

I’ve listened to their interviews, read their books, and devoured their writing, and I would say they share a common belief: Concern for audience response is almost guaranteed to extinguish your creativity.

Camp B creates content people might hate for all the right reasons, because it attracts that little group you covet.

This form of rejection works, and if you cuss enough to make Joan Rivers blush, even better, because the people who love you will find you.

So here we have two distinct methodologies that work brilliantly.

Members of each group sell plenty of books, know how to attract fans, and have mastered the fine art of blogging.

But I would like to focus on Camp B.

Why?

Well, I’ve spent years working on branding and design projects in the B2B world, where persuading clients to inject some personality into the mix can be a battle.

In the realm Olivier Blanchard refers to as “socialized digital communications,” things are a tad different. And here, I rather like the approach of the so-called “unpopular” kids.

I love the idea of taking scary ideas and giving them a giant bear hug. It’s a mindset that started some of the worlds most popular brands, but could also be the golden key in bringing that little blog of yours to the next level.

And since Erika wrote a book on this very topic, I thought it was more than appropriate to open it up to discussion.

What about your humble little blog?

If you’re blogging for business, are you proudly displaying your own special form of genius? Your unique combination of know-how and life experience?

Your personality? Your core? Your essence?

This is the place where you just might start to build that rabid fan base and also realize being accepted by everyone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

What say you?

As small businesses get deeper into social, does it stand to reason they will have to turn up the personality a wee bit?

And isn’t taking “scary” and running with it a pretty solid business strategy? Especially in this new paradigm where tribes reign supreme?

I’m a big fan of all parties mentioned above. They obviously ALL know what they are doing.

It’s just that in my little world where small businesses and budding bloggers need advice, getting traction means “niching down.”

And this process entails risking popularity by:

  1. Embracing a bit of discomfort and taking those risks.
  2. Letting some emotion seep into the mix.
  3. And not worrying about audience response.

I like to call this “killer swag,” but that’s just me. How about you?

Craig McBreen is the owner of McBreen Design and writes at craigmcbreen.com. A Seattle-based branding consultant who also likes to write about social media, breaking out of routine, and the power of creativity as a daily practice. You can follow him on Twitter @craigmcbreen.

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82 responses to “Two Blogging Camps: Which is Better?”

  1. AndyOterson says:

    What kind of a blogger are you? RT @ginidietrich Two blogging camps: Which one is better by @craigmcbreen http://t.co/OG2O8sme

  2. […] Here I wrote about the importance of crafting compelling content, which often involves investing in a scary concept. […]

  3. Well, McBreen, I think you know where I am. 🙂 #cryptic

  4. I don’t feel that one camp (hey — I’ve always been on the B team *waves hi to Julien*) is any better than the other. It comes down to knowing what your target audience wants and appreciates and shaping your communications and brand personality to attract that audience. Oh yeah, and being yourself in the process. A vs B / one-better-than-the-other — the only thing that stands as BEST on any day of the week is being yourself. After all, everyone else is already taken.

    • HowieSPM says:

       @RedheadWriting I actually think there needs to be a Type C. They Type B’s who bullshit out their asses. And some of the Ad Age top 50 are of this type. And they give the Type B’s a bad name!

      •  @HowieSPM  @RedheadWriting  Funny, I’m writing another post more closely related to what you just stated. There certainly are more than a few posers out there.

  5. Hi Erika,
     
    I don’t either, really, but I did want to highlight a practice you wrote about, which is certainly a great way to find that loyal audience you covet. And like you wrote here, “the only thing that stands as BEST on any day of the week is being yourself.” … Amen to that.
     
    Displaying your own special form of genius is kinda what makes this whole blogging thing so much fun and it can also lead to more business. Double fun!
     
    Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Awesome post. I’ve always wanted to be part of this B team, but lack the skills and/or the demeanor.

    •  @Sean McGinnis I Sean. I don’t think camp B belongs to a certain personality type. Some of the most interesting (and funniest) people I know are not the demonstrative type at all, in fact they are pretty introverted.

  7. PhilipNowak says:

    Craig,
     
    Nice post. I started out as a Camp A type of blogger, writing informative posts lacking in emotion and personality.
     
    Now that I’m cranking out posts on a daily business week schedule, I find myself feeling increasingly more comfortable with my writing style and relate more to the Camp B type of blogger.
     
    My headlines have gotten stickier, my content is impactful and my prose has more of a personal touch with the occasional joke thrown in (at least I think it’s funny).
     
    Best,
    Philip

  8. PhilipNowak says:

    Craig,
     
    Nice post. I started out as a Camp A type of blogger, writing informative posts lacking in emotion and personality.
     
    Now that I’m cranking out posts on a daily business week schedule, I find myself feeling increasingly more comfortable with my writing style and relate more to the Camp B type of blogger.
     
    My headlines have gotten stickier, my content is impactful and my prose has more of a personal touch with the occasional joke thrown in (at least I think it’s funny).
     
    Best,
    Philip

    •  @PhilipNowak Hi Philip, Thank you. And that’s the key. It’s not like this belongs to a certain type of personality. It’s just more about being yourself. We can never be 100% authentic of course, but letting your personality seep into your writing style is a big ol’ benefit, for you and your readers.
       
      Glad your seeing some success with this. And thank you for the comments.

  9. ginidietrich says:

    Blog post of the week! Though, I have to say, your paraphrase is not exactly what I said!
     
    The thing I love about what you’ve written here is it really just depends. What works for Jay doesn’t work for Erika and vice versa. You have to find out what works best for you, and for your audience, and what makes you most comfortable (like @PhilipNowak says). 

    •  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak  Hey Gini, Thanks. “What works for Jay doesn’t work for Erika and vice versa.” Indeed, and like I wrote I’m definitely a fan of both, just wanted to focus on the camp B kids today.
       
      You need to find out what works best for you, but don’t be afraid to write polarizing content or reveal yourself. We do want to see … just don’t reveal too much 😉

      • HowieSPM says:

         @Craig McBreen @ginidietrich @PhilipNowak Ironically one of my most read posts recently was calling out one of those Type B bloggers in a negative way. It actually wound up on Facebook of all places with discussion because of @dannybrown loving the subject person so much.
        The post I wrote about which had erroneous data and the guy didn’t care got tweeted over 1000 times. I don’t even get 1000 views on a post never mind 1000 tweets!
         
        Tomorrow my post is a how to identify between biased bloggers and the Type A you describe Craig because i feel people should be migrating to those that tell the truth, are transparent, honest, and care about the reader as much as themselves.
         
        Yet quite a few of the bigger names in Social definitely only care about themselves and they get a lot of readers.
         
        Does this go to the heart of how many dumb people we have in the US? Aren’t the people who read type B more likely to spend their day watching the jersey shore and reading the national enquirer?

        •  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak  @dannybrown 
           
          Hi Howie,
           
          The individuals in the B group I’m describing aren’t exactly a dishonest lot, but since I have opened the door and introduced these two camps, many others could be lumped in to fit your description.
           
          I’ll have to read your post, but publishing erroneous data is beyond irresponsible.
           
          My focus with this post was more about a writing style and a talent for creating sticky content. All the bloggers I mentioned are very talented people, especially when it comes to attracting attention and I think it’s very interesting comparing their styles and methodologies.
           
          I’m not sure about your last paragraph. Don’t know. I suspect one of the bloggers I noted might want to bean The Situation with a size 12 wingtip while he is otherwise occupied 😉

        • rdopping says:

           @Craig McBreen  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak  @dannybrown Speaking of erroneous. Have you guys seen the movie State of Play? Not even that old (2009). There is some distinct social commentary there about the “opinions” of bloggers and the “facts” that “real” journalists present. Hell, I agree. If you are stating “fact” then you better do some damn research. If not, well, an opinion is an opinion.

        • DannyBrown says:

           @rdopping  @Craig McBreen  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak To be fair, even some journos are a bit loose with facts to state their opinion. Toronto Sun, anyone? 😉

        • rdopping says:

           @DannyBrown  @Craig McBreen  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak  @GaryVee Sun, Star, Metro……but NOT the Globe or Nat Post….noooo. Not them. Sorry this is getting a little TO based (you know, the center of the journalistic universe)….bahahahaaaaa

        •  @DannyBrown The New York Times has has a few boners. @rdopping  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak  @GaryVee 

        • Umm, … mishaps. 🙂 @DannyBrown  @rdopping  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich  @PhilipNowak  @GaryVee 

        •  @rdopping   We saw the movie fairly recently and my wife laughed out loud … I think she was making fun of me 😉

  10. CraigMcBreen says:

    @benjaminhike Thank you, Sir!

  11. CraigMcBreen says:

    @ginidietrich Not the stickiest post so far 😉

  12. CraigMcBreen says:

    Hi @PhilipNowak Thanks for the RT and comment!

  13. TheJackB says:

    I don’t play for either team, holding out for more cash and a bigger signing bonus. I still maintain that you build your community around you and that if you aren’t having fun you will not last.

    •  @TheJackB You too, huh? 😉
       
      Well, I’m certainly having fun. Now, blogging for business and having fun? Even better.
       
      Thanks, Jack.

      • TheJackB says:

         @Craig McBreen Honestly I don’t see why we can’t, with very few exceptions. I suppose if you are running the social media for a mortuary you can’t make all the usual jokes online about stiffs and necrophilia, but you should be able to add some life to your posts.

  14. DannyBrown says:

    See, this is the one thing I hate about blogging (and this is no slight on you whatsoever, mate), the need to break into camps, sides, divisions, etc.
     
    Can’t we just find the blogs we like, read them, subscribe to them and share them for what they are? Unless they’re a complete shyster (and there are some out there, for sure), every bloggers writes honestly (or videos, or podcast).
     
    The best bloggers do what they do, and in the way they do, for love of the art and for love of their audience. That’s what attracts me to blogs – not science, not stats, not strategies, not f-bomb heavy cussfests. Love.
     
    Without that, it’s just another article directory.
     
    Cheers, sir!

    • rdopping says:

       @DannyBrown  f-bomb heavy cussfests! Have you been over at Ash Amberge’s place recently? Love that girl.

    •  @DannyBrown  *the part where I dry hump Danny’s leg just a little bit*

    •  @DannyBrown  
      Hi Danny,
       
      My real focus with this piece was regarding audience response and not worrying too much about it. “being accepted by everyone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” That’s one thing I admire about the people mentioned. Although there are so many out there who do the same exact thing: They write what they feel and that can result in love and hate. But like you, I want to focus on the love.
       
      Just for the record, I’m a fan of everyone I mentioned above for various reasons, and one thing they don’t do is publish just another article directory, we have way to many of those out there, don’t we? 😉 Me? I want to add a little spice to my client’s content, all while focusing on the underlying mechanics that make it all work.
       
      The Scam Artists? I’d like to see them doing the perp walk.
       
      Thanks, Sir. Glad you stopped by.

    •  @DannyBrown  And hedgehogs. Don’t forget the hedgehogs. Right, @RedheadWriting ?

  15. rdopping says:

    Craig,
    I have to admit, I had a completely different response written at work and my darn work security protocols will allow me to “view” the site but not leave comments. At least I am blaming them for that.
     
    First off, congrats on a great piece.
     
    The fact that there are so may varied takes on this subject is fantastic and I am sure when you were writing it you thought about the potential controversy. I hate to say it but I have to agree that there are “styles” that people can adopt but each blogger makes their thing unique to them. Sure, there are lists and there are controversial subjects and phrasing but we cannot and will not be labelled. One thing is for sure; if you can’t take any risks with your writing and “opinions” then maybe you won’t stand out or be heard. I love vanilla but only on a cone.
     
    You have, as always, opened pandora’s box (a little) and have given us something to chew on. Nice and chewy. Risking popularity is probably going to happen if you “take a stand” but you never know. In this world you could take a stand and find out you are more popular than ever. Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall.

    •  @rdopping 
      Ralph, Thank you, Sir.
       
      Security protocols? Don’t they know this is Spin Sucks? … Damn them 😉
       
      Yes, I thought it would be a great conversation starter, but I also like how some people write. They just let ‘er rip, in a very talented way of course. The point I really like to focus on, and you know this because I’ve written about it ad nauseam: that writing comes to life when you let your essence shine through. 
       
      Funny, some people I know who aren’t the least bit demonstrative are pretty damned funny and very creative and could make a big dent in this blogosphere if they gave it a go.
       
      I’m glad you found this nice and chewy. Your comments were pretty chewy too, Mr. Dopping.

  16. true2texas says:

    Craig
     
    What a profound and well written piece, congrats.
     
    Before you slaughter my English,   If there were a plan C well I would take it.
     
    Embracing a bit of discomfort and taking those risks.Letting some emotion seep into the mix.And not worrying about audience response.  What would happen if I did that with my little blog, I did that the risk is a well overlooked one, about to have more traction given to stem this year.
     
    Take a look a cherry.com, or taskrabbit.com two companies with similar plans that failed in San Francisco during the last tech run up.
     
    It is a scary new world  in marketing.  Today it is possible to launch a campaign without going to the marketing director if you have a good idea, because guess what if people “like” you at a good little clip, you probably know more than the average small business owner anyway.  
     
    That should be both discomforting, and risky for anyone getting paid big bucks to produce.
     
    Maybe we try some old fashioned teaching before someone starts paying alot of money for the things that they can do themselves with a little help.
     
    Peas

    •  @true2texas Hey Texas, Well, thank you. I don’t work with many startups, so that’s not my bailiwick. I usually work with smaller co’s that need a bit more direction. Anyway, those are some interesting concepts. If cherry failed in SF, I wonder how it’s doing elsewhere? Interesting concept, but I like to wash my car 😉

  17. […] Two Blogging Camps: Which is Better?, spinsucks.com […]

  18. bdorman264 says:

    Hey, there was some other cat at another site talking about killer swag just recently. Would you believe Malcolm in the Middle’s dad was selling meth to get his groove on?
     
    What happens when you are in no camp? Are you still allowed to blog? I tend to agree with @DannyBrown when he asks ‘can’t we just find blogs we like?’ 
     
    I have no game plan and it shows as I struggle with it at times because I KNOW I could be doing something different but for what outcome? 
     
    Everybody has their own unique style; some much more unique than others. I like to keep an open mind and not get painted into a corner in regards to one camp or another. But then again, I’m just a nice guy like that, aren’t I?………….:). 
     
    Hola Craig. 

    •  @bdorman264  
      Hey Bill, Ha ha.  Malcolm in the Middle’s dad took a turn for the worst, but he most definitely has some killer swag 😉
       
      No camp is perfectly fine 😉 My focus was about audience response and not really worrying too much about it. Not dwelling on it. That fact that being accepted by everyone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Camp B just has a handle on that.
       
      I guess this is all easier if you do have an outcome in mind and it’s aligned with your business goals. That’s my simple take on it anyway. But if you’re having fun, love to write, etc. what’s wrong with that? Nothing of course. Write what you feel and see where it takes you. It’s a fun little trip is all.
       
      Hola!

  19. CraigMcBreen says:

    @rdopping @spinsucks Thanks!

  20. CraigMcBreen says:

    @annelizhannan @SpinSucks Thanks. I try to avoid those with too much schtick 😉

  21. CraigMcBreen says:

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks You are too kind, buy hey, I’ll take it 😉

  22. CraigMcBreen says:

    @edreuben Hi Ed. Thanks!

  23. CraigMcBreen says:

    @YearOfBlogger Thanks!

  24. CraigMcBreen says:

    @MichaelBowers Hi Michael.Thanks!

  25. CraigMcBreen says:

    @JohnFalchetto Hi John, back up to speed after that long trip?

  26. CraigMcBreen says:

    @jocmbarnett Thanks!

  27. CraigMcBreen says:

    @ShakirahDawud Scary keeps you going 😉 TY!

  28. CraigMcBreen says:

    @iarlabyrne Thanks!

  29. CraigMcBreen says:

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks This statement made my week 🙂

  30. crestodina says:

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks @craigmcbreen I’m in Camp A. Here’s another take on it… Nice Blogs Finish Last: http://t.co/G1kLTSx5

  31. CraigMcBreen says:

    @timepass Hi Shane. Thank you!

  32. CraigMcBreen says:

    @blfarris @spinsucks Nice Tweet, Brad 🙂 Thanks.

  33. CraigMcBreen says:

    @efrogthemes Thank you!

  34. […] create a name for yourself by solving problems and providing worthwhile and meaningful content. But injecting your personality into the mix is the extra spice that will keep ‘em coming […]

  35. CraigMcBreen says:

    @jenniferwindrum Hi Jennifer. Thanks!

  36. […] recently wrote a piece which presented disparate approaches to the world of […]

  37. […] I wrote this post at Spin Sucks, I didn’t exactly have an eBook in mind, but I couldn’t resist pairing […]

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