The Blog Unnomenon
Okay, it has been a bit of time since weblogs inc was snatched up by AOL, turning Jason Calcannis into the mover and shaker he always dreamed of, but as more and more traditional publications seek ways to incorporate blogs, let’s look at the rarely viewed dark side (even more amusing because I’m blogging about it!)
Four Problems with Blogs
- PassivityQuality Let’s be honest here: What blog delivers good, fact-checked correct-spelling-grammar-proper completed-thoughts every day the way a newspaper or magazine does?
Consistency Friend of mine is a food maniac. One day she was having a crappy day, and she went to a favorite blog to read about produce, or sautÃ©ing, or other cheering topics. That was the day the blogger had to put her cat to sleep.
Blogs are reflections of the whole person, no matter how focused they are on a single topic. I remember getting a sad comment on this blog saying “I liked this blog better when it was about design.” and I thought, dude, I’m sick of design.
Constancy How many times have you read on someone’s blog “sorry I haven’t posted for awhile”… .
Passivity While occasionally some blogs have featured “guest bloggers” a blog is almost always me talking to you. Or a closed group talking to you.
So I’ll take half a second to define “problem” because none of these things are problems when you accept that a blog is the public diary of a single person to friends, family, colleagues or even fellow travelers. But these are problems if you are an advertiser, and if it’s a problem for an advertiser, it’s a problem for any blogger who wants to go pro.
Quality: what does it do to your brand to be seen next to profanity, or radical positions?
Consistency: how can you guarantee relevance when you don’t know when a blogger is suddenly going to go apesh*t over a president’s policy change?
Constancy: it’s just too big a hassle to chase blogs with small audiences, especially if they are going to burn out regularly.
Passivity: Switching costs are nothing when the audience isn’t involved.
Right now we’re seeing a few “pro” bloggers who are changing the nature of blogs by adding editors and keeping things consistent. But are these really blogs anymore, or simply the equivalent of a newspaper column with a shorter word count?
User-generated content is an anathema to most quality advertisers (take a tour thorough Myspace to see who is comfortable with advertising on user-generated content…. and don’t forget not to click on “Your PC is infected!”) One has to wonder how Federated Media and its ilk will be addressing this issue.
Without advertiser or other revenue, blogs remain in the hobbiest state, unable to hire editors, fact checkers, or even assure time to keep publishing regularly. Readers must continually hop from blog to blog as one ascends and another descends.
Right now there is a race to address these issues. Some entrepreneurs are trying to aggregate then use the crowd behavior to rate, others are focusing on adding quality controls in order to be advertiser friendly, and the bloggers themselves are working on experiments from tip jars to sponsorships. The ordinary voice is too interesting and too real to ignore, but how to sustain it, grow it and provide for it is a mystery so far.