The Internet is a constantly changing landscape, and within that landscape are trends – some ‘trendier’ than others. Since 1998, blogs have grown and grown. We have seen a number of themes; from beauty and décor, food and exercise to motherhood and gardening – the topics are endless. But, with cash for reviews, sponsorships, advertisements and ‘shout outs’, blogs are being labeled as unauthentic and fraudsters. And with so much content curated, the blogosphere has spilled onto multiple media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Tumblr, Vine and most recently Snapchat. However, could it be argued that with the continuous change that smartphone apps thrive on is the downfall of blogging? Is blogging dead…or at least dying?
A timeline of events
When blogs first started up in the late 90’s, the content was minimal, poorly written and often perceived as an online diary for individuals, expressing their feelings and an environment to rant.
According to Google Trends, the search for ‘blogs’ has reduced drastically over the years. The height was September 2008 with 100%, compared to the present day drop by over 4 times, being a fraction of that figure to a minimal 24%. These figures suggest that blogs are not a strong interest to web users like they once were
Although a more in depth exploration of Google search, ‘how to start a blog’ is actually on the increase. We can see that there is not such a drastic decline, but there is a particular band that it drops and picks up between, 50% and 80%. Looking at this figure, we can calculate that people are perhaps not searching for the definition of a blog because it is now an established form of our language. Therefore, this rejects the theory that ‘blogs are dead’.
According to comScore (one of the leading firms in measuring the digital world), in August 2008, “14.5 million people in the U.K. visited at least one blog, representing 41 percent of the total U.K. Internet audience.”
Managing director of comScore Europe, Herve Le Jouan, claims “blogs have become part of the essential fabric of the Internet today, they live and breathe in real-time, helping quench media consumers’ thirst for the most up-to-date breaking news, information, and analysis. It should not, therefore, be particularly surprising that they’re increasingly displacing traditional media usage and carving out an ever-increasing slice of the online advertising pie.”
Some trends are trendier
Before Facebook, it was MySpace, before MySpace it was Bebo. In February 2008, Bebo was down by 45% at 12.8 million global visitors, MySpace was standing at 110 million visitors but Facebook was in the lead with 462 million visitors.
Facebook offered a newsfeed – a thread of status’s with the ability for users to like and comment, they had a games section most memorably ‘Farmville’, users could have ‘poke wars’ with friends, they could also use the instant messenger within the site as well as group chats.
Likewise, blogs need to be engaging with the audience and updating with the technology of today to keep the reader hooked. In comes social media.
As devised by Henry Jenkins, transmedia storytelling is the format in which, “stories unfold across multiple media platforms”.
With thanks to smartphones and androids, web users crave more instant updates from their favourite bloggers. Instagram and Twitter are two of the most instant forms of sharing content. Unlike sitting down, typing a review and publishing it, Instagram and Twitter take all of ten seconds to put your post out there. The more hash tags there are, the better – allowing people with similar interests to be diverted to your page.
Similarly to blogs, at one point YouTube was a void for amateur film makers to upload fifteen seconds of footage. Gone are the days with the low budget videos being filmed on a mobile phone. YouTuber’s are creating quality videos and investing in the equipment to put their footage out there.
With the number of casual bloggers dwindling, devoted and precise bloggers are taking the forefront. Big brands have attached themselves to bloggers, by negotiating with the authors to give a recommendation of the brand. Or to simply even have a ‘selfie’ on their feed with a particular product. But – it is not just the big labels, even charities are branching out to bloggers to gain recognition.
Social media is not blogging
Instead of blogging, people are hashtagging, tweeting, Instagramming, updating Facebook statuses, Snapchatting and pinning things to their boards. As maintained by the Lifetime Achievement Award winning blogger, Jason Kottke, “the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs”. Kottke believes that, “today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.”
It is argued that instead of creating blogs, companies are creating mobile apps, where once to view a blog was free, some apps have additional add ons or even come at a price to download.
In conclusion, nearly twenty years down the line, there has been a huge evolvement within the blogosphere. From small, personal blogs, to celebrity culture to the outrageous and witty humour of teenagers making it viral.
In my opinion, blogging is not dead, nor is it dying. It is in its element of meeting with the needs and wants of today’s multimedia culture. Take a look at Zoella, the beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger launched her blog in February 2009. By the end of the year she had 1000 followers. Six years later, (and just last year) she received over 540 million total visits. Whilst Zoella has dispersed into most social media formats, she still regularly returns to her blog that started it all for her – and publishes posts.
Blogging does not just stop at people, it allows products and companies to create content and market it more effectively than ever before. It is not just about views, opinions, hobbies or entertainment – for example products such as Coca-Cola even have blogs. Why do they just have to be a product, when blogs and social media combined allow them to be an experience? “Transmedia has been incredibly exciting, it allows companies like ourselves to build vast, seamless conversations with consumers that tie across multiple platforms in a media space that is usually fragmented.” Jared Konstaty, Coca-Cola Senior Vice President.
Blogging is a lifeline to writers outside of London, or other cities that drive the publishing sector. Yes social media is expanding, but blogging, realistically will remain the same. Blogs allow undiscovered authors to get their work out there, which they cannot do through Snapchat or Instagram.
Blogging has so much content that simply cannot be contained in one corner of the Internet, thus getting shares via other aspects of social media.