To Blog or Not to Blog: Are Social Tools Ready Replace Them?
Will blogs soon go the way of wooly mammoths and bell-bottomed jeans? Some online marketing leaders certainly think so. In fact, many of them are giving up their blogs already, taking their content, fans, and inspirations to Google+ and other social venues.
Should you do the same?
Before we answer that question, let's take a quick look at a case for and against giving up your blog.
Why You Might Want to Say Goodbye to Your Site's Blog
If you read a lot of my posts (or my books), then you already know I think the point of having a blog isn't just to spread content or even to boost your Google search rankings, but to actually engage with readers and followers on interesting or important aspects of online marketing. You want readers to not just absorb an idea, but also form an impression about you, your company, and your expertise.
These days, that's actually easier to do on a social media site (and particularly Google+) than it is on your own blog. That's because Google's brand of social networking allows you to share your content quickly and conveniently among different circles, discover other great content, and especially to engage with other users, without having to wait for comment approval. The give-and-take is faster and more "real" in this scenario, making it a lot more interactive than your typical blog comment module.
Plus, it's much easier and faster for others to share your content from a social media site than it is to send a link to your blog. A Plus, Like or Favourite when logged in is just one click away.
Google and the other social media sites have made it easier to post longer or ongoing articles, so what do you have to lose? If the point is to engage readers and develop a following, and both of those things are easier to do on a social network than on a blog, why bother with hosting your own blog at all?
Don't Switch Off Your Blog Just Yet...
The case I just made for "blogging" through social media makes sense, but it's not the last word on the subject. As it turns out, there are still some advantages to having your own blog (and some ways to realize the benefits you'd get from posting straight to Google+).
The first and most important reason to keep your blog is because publishing there gives you control over your content. You can choose exactly when and how it's displayed, what images go next to it, what your blog looks like overall, whether you'll display accompanying marketing offers, and so on. While that may be (more or less) true with Google+ as well, there's no way to guarantee that will always be the case. In other words, you'll always be able to decide what goes on your blog, but you can't know or control what Google is going to do with its social media platform in the future. Just consider the recent repeal of Google's real names policy, for example.
Another important benefit of blogging is that it gives more power and value to your existing content. The more relevant information you add to your site, the more there is to be indexed and discovered. It's easier for users to bookmark and locate old posts again later on your site than in social.
And finally, using readily available plug-ins (such as Disqus or LiveFyre), you can devise a social commenting system that bypasses the traditional barriers and opens up a two-way window for dialogue. Or better yet, you can post your material to your blog, share to social, which links to the post from your social accounts, and then invite engagement on Google+ for the best of both worlds.
Blogs Can Have Big Value
You probably could follow the example of bloggers like Mike Elgan and throw your content into social - he has been extremely successful at it - but is it that the right move for you? Side note: Mike also guest blogs for other sites.
If your goal is to follow the trend of a few of the more established bloggers, ditching your blog might be the way to go. But if you want to get the most mileage from the content you produce, having your own web presence - and posting to it regularly - is likely still the best way to go. (At least until you reach the mass of followers they have.)
Connect with me on Google+ and check out how I use that social platform to integrate my own blogging and social engagement.
Follow Randy Milanovic on Twitter