Does social media kill the blog?

Do social media services kill the blog?

Answering Klout questions is sometimes difficult, as space is very limited and some topics require more in-depth discussion than the equivalent of 3 tweets – ask any regular on Quora! In most cases, I manage to stuff my collected knowledge into a couple of lines, but today Klout asked a very interesting questions that has been sitting in the back of my mind for quite a while now:

Are social media websites like Twitter and Facebook killing the blog? Why or why not?

The shortest possible answer is of course no – one letter shorter than “yes” even, and the right answer, too. So here's the little song I wrote:

Social media has changed the blogosphere: instead of commenting, a lot of users “like” or “+1” and the remaining discussion has moved away from the blog onto social media services. But blogs are a more important content back-bone than ever – the format evolves.

This line of reasoning requires a little elaboration: back in the early days of blogging, weblogs were primarily a means to document/store/share the websites bloggers had visited and found interesting – hence the name which stems from “logging your web journey”. In bold ignorance of the harsh reality our web fore-fathers faced, nowadays I regularly hear web-experts spread a different founding myth – one in which the first blogs were “online diaries”. No, wrong.

Online diaries appeared on the scene a little later, together with the first content-rich blogs: instead of presenting their readers with an extensive list of hyperlinks and very little additional information, the new generation of blogs would change the ratio of the two main ingredients: more content, less links. That's when commeting became a vital part of the blogosphere and comment-rating plugins, an early form of social content structuring, became popular.

Enter social media: platforms like blogger or wordpress.com took care of the technical hassle, but is was Myspace that took the blogging phenomenon to a whole new level in terms of numbers. We've seen a couple of first-generation platforms go and we've witnessed the immense success of Facebook and Twitter's increasing popularity among geeks.

Bloggers these days have stopped whining about the decreasing number of comments – the discussion happens elswhere, the prime content still lives on the blog. Several technical solutions allow bloggers to pull back discussions from social media platforms to their blog and/or use these platforms as distribution channels for their postings.

Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest and all these other empty shells are ever-hungry beasts that call for fresh, new, entertaining and stunning content. They host pictures and videos and short status updates, but they're far from a library of knowledge, tutorials and in-depth analysis. Social media is channel, blogs are a publishing platform – both formats co-exist and influence each other, but nobody's killing anyone. At least not today.

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