Blogs used to be the central place for people to share points of view. Status updates have moved to facebook. Link sharing has moved to twitter. Photo sharing has moved to instagram. What is left for blogs is a place to spread corporate agenda. Why? Chris Thilk gives four points in his blog post, “Blog writing has changed, man“
1. In the past we had to reach out to other blogs to get links. Today we just use Facebook and Twitter.
2. In the past we would link to other blogs. Today we link to our own blog posts.
3. Today we overuse dramatic statements and top ten lists.
4. His fourth point, the summary, is very insightful, his words: “Blogging became a formula for too many people. And once you start using the same (broken) playbook as everyone else it’s going to create a less interesting place for everyone to interact and live.”
(Chris explains these four points more in more detail on his blog post)
A solution, as Chris points out, is to keep things weird.
Yeah! Keep it weird. Other ways of saying weird is creative. Or insightful–and not generic insight–but true unique insight that is personal to the writer.
People and companies have become formulaic with how blogs are written. There are so many blogs that follow the utility angle. While I love utility, but only when it’s done from an insight–not from a “hey what are people searching for? Let’s write about that.” Then you end up with flat content.
Another solution: Aggregate comments
What’s also left blogs flat—even blogs with insightful, creative, weird content—is the lack of comments. Blogs used to be lively discussion areas. Now those comments have floated off to all the various areas of Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook.
The next generation of great blogs could take advantage of this splinterization of comments by becoming an aggregator of all these comments. So far nobody is bringing together all the comments left about a blog post on the various social media channels. Every now and then I try to gather up the various comments into one area.
Here’s an example of that type of aggregation, I’ll fulfill reason #2 for why blogging has changed and link to my own blog post. It’s funny to see how that blog post as one comment, but ten from various places online. There is value to the reader in bringing together all these comments into one place. In another irony, here’s a top-five list.
Five values in aggregating comments across social media onto your blog
1. Convenience for the reader
The reader doesn’t have to feel like he/she needs to follow all the social channels to get everything. Readers are feeling overwhelmed by all the various streams they feel they have to follow. Not everything can be read. Anything that captures things together into one place makes it much more convenient.
2. Shows the blog owner cares for your comments
The effort put by the blog to aggregate all the comments shows that the blog owner truly does read all the comments read across the social channels. Not only reads them, but actually cares about the comments enough to bring them into one spot.
3. Blog is still the hub
The aggregated comments shows that the blog is still truly the hub of all publishing activities. We are tempted to make Facebook the hub, because that’s where we get the most activity. Or maybe for businesses, it’s Linkedin. Be very careful about making a third party service your hub.
4. Encourages people to leave comments on other social media channels
While I push and push for people to leave comments on my blog, I still appreciate comments on other channels. Most readers would also appreciate being able to use whatever channel(s) they like most. The majority of America are Facebook users. That’s cool. It’s a flawed channel for content reading; but hey, people use it, because they like it. Same thing with twitter. It’s not the best channel in the world for comments, because of the limit of length; but you know what? If you like twitter, go ahead and use it. Everyone has their preference. And your blog should accommodate that. NOT just by having those silly “share this” and “tweet this” buttons; but by actually collecting those comments together onto your blog.
5. The blog owner will be happy
There’s a satisfaction in seeing all the comments in one place. You won’t feel like your ideas are a neglected hole.
Perhaps I love comments too much. Perhaps I love marginalia too much. My girlfriend is an English teacher who loves encouraging critical thinking in her 8th grade students. As critical thinkers, every time you read something, certainly there is an idea that goes off in your head—or at least an emotion.
Why not share that idea or emotion with the author? He/she will be greatly appreciative.