It occurred to me the other day that blogs may have already become the next passe thing on the Internet.
Think about it. When blogs went mainstream about five years ago, they were an avenue for people to spout random things about themselves, rant about a topic or just take up bandwidth with whatever musings crossed their minds.
Then came social media like Twitter and Facebook, letting people do the same things but at the same time have a built-in network of "friends" or "followers" to share in these experiences.
So, for the average person with an online identity, a blog may now seem a tad old-fashioned.
But that's not to say a blog can't be useful for people and for businesses. Obviously there are still quite a few popular blogs on the Web, particularly in the realms of politics, entertainment and sports. If you're reading this (thank you), you must find value in this one.
But the role of blogs may have changed. For individuals, instead of being the stream-of-consciousness journals they once were, blogs now in many ways have become more grown up. That is, people seem to put more time and thought into a blog post now than they did maybe two or three years ago. Many people have moved all the daily clutter to social networking sites and reserved their blog as a showcase for their more "polished" work.
In the business world blogs have, for the most part, been a recent addition as companies have seen the value of having a continuous online conversation with customers. Even if a business uses Twitter or Facebook, a blog may be a good way to help customers online without them having to deal with the "noise" often associated with social networking. For example, Family Trust Federal Credit Union has a blog it uses to give financial advice to customers.
In the news business, I've found -- as many others have, too -- that something like Twitter (often called "micro-blogging") is a better way to frequently communicate with readers and quickly get news out there. But there are certainly limitations with social networking sites, so I still maintain this blog to help maximize business coverage. I think it still has value, but it's no longer the primary tool for a reporter to communicate online.
Until recently, the school of thought was that a blog had to be updated at least several times a week to be effective. But with the emergence of Twitter and Facebook, is that still the case?
So, what's the best use for a blog personally and professionally? Has the role really changed?
What are your thoughts?
(And yes, I see the irony of using a blog to discuss the usefulness of the format.)