The Blog Conundrum

To Blog,or not to Blog, that is the question… or perhaps the question is why do we Blog, and what is the better method? As I see it, there are four main reasons to use social media.

1) To sell things to people

2) Social diaries

3) As a forum

4) To influence people

Selling things to people can take two primary forms. A) Advertisement revenue – This requires people to visit your page, which means enticing people to click on a link, that leads to material people are interested and getting those advertisements to load. The purpose of your blog is to generate page views. B) Buying things that I advertise – Your aim is to get people to like what you have created and go buy it. Page views are lower since you gain direct dollars from those who buy from you. What you are trying to generate is actual clicks to purchase, which could be a quantity or quality purchase based system. As a business, the number of people you can share with is optimised for quantity rather than quality.

Diaries are the original idea of the B-Log, although not so much in the petty “I had a shit morning” way. The B-log was all about keeping a more rich and emotive record of the project you were working on. These days the project is your life. Because sales is not the point, it is more about the people you are interacting with. I believe people have discovered that the number of followers is indirectly proportional to quality. That is, the more people you have in your list, the less you care about them and the more noise to your signal. Minimalism has become very popular, such as limited short blog posts or limited small numbers of followers. Both of these are mechanisms to make your posts mean something. That doesn’t mean that it works though.

Informal Forums are very popular. That is finding other people interested in the kinds of things that you are interested and getting to know them via the social media. Formal forums are very regulated and off topic or immature writing is often treated poorly in order to keep the site pure. In social media this is not directly regulated, but rather the regulation is more in the format of people cutting you from their list. This is a bottom up regulation verses a top down regulation. Lists, circles and specialised social media have become the means of keeping track of who is in which forum. Some social media engines are better for some kinds of sharing of ideas than others, such as photography or coding. Much of this depends on the quality of the sharing tools incorporated into the social media itself.

Social media is a powerful tool to Influence people. The priority is to sway as many people as you can to your perspective. To do this you need as many followers as you can get and you need to keep their interest engaged.

You could argue that you are trying to sell ideas, so it is similar to the first purpose of the list. I would argue that the methodology is different. Revenue raising requires streaming people towards sites that you can sell through while influencing people does not require a redirect. The influencers will have disparate tool that the same concept is copied and pasted to. It may redirect to a single specialised blog location, in which case the posts are tailored to entice people to click on the link and explore the site to understand more of this idea. This later version is more efficient for the influencer to create, but may loose quite a few people who don’t wish to click the link and want the relevant information here and now.

The optimal influencer will tailor their message to the format of the blog medium they are posting to. Short snappy sound bites, impressive pictures, titles and headings where appropriate and catchy content are the tools of the influencer. The primary aim is to get as many people to follow you in as many social media as you can and keep their engaged interest.

I believe that Google Plus is trying to be all these things to all people. I believe this is the order of its success.

1 – Selling things

2 – Influencing people

3 – Forums – connecting specialists

4 – Diary – connecting those who actually know each other

As a social blog, Google Plus has a two way fundamental flaw. The first direction is the number of people you can follow with the reverse being the number of people who follow you. While circles can manage this, the sheer number of people whom you can have cluttering up your stream is massive. Why follow people you don’t want to … um, follow?

The signal of your friends becomes buried in the noise of your list, unless you only follow those few who you care about. This is not a socially successful model because we humans always want one more. Some social media artificially limits those whom you can follow imposing a need to contemplate quality over quantity, such as PATH. Google Plus as a system encourages quantity over quality and requires the user to manually choose quality rather than automatic quantity. How often has a “friends cull” been used in various other social media, or a post about difficulties in managing ones circles been posted about? Quite often I believe.

Circles are easy to manage when the number of people being followed is few. How many people do you actively follow vs passively? I suspect the ratio is quite extreme.